Everyday Food (April 2012)
Zach's mom and stepdad came to visit this past weekend. It was a gorgeous weekend -- D.C. at its spring finest. We had some delicious meals (including a sojourn out to Four Sisters, the best Vietnamese place around the District), saw a few sights and generally tried to spend as much time outdoors as possible, soaking up the gorgeous spring sunshine.
For dinner on Saturday night, we wanted something light and springy. We did an all-veggie meal of grilled spring onions with a mustard sauce; a yummy asparagus-and-cheese tart we'll write about soon; and a wilted salad of spinach, fresh peas and sauteed red onions (which had a dressing of hot bacon grease, so we suppose it wasn't quite a vegetarian meal after all. Sue us.).
For dessert, we wanted something really special, but still light and springy. Enter this Blackberry-Cream Layer Cake.
The April issue of Everyday Food has a nice little feature on four ways to use the same Classic Yellow Cake Batter. There are cupcakes, marble loaf cakes and a pineapple buckle. But it was the layer cake that was calling to us. The recipe in the magazine uses raspberries; we couldn't find any, so we subbed in blackberries instead.
As the name of the cake batter implies, it's a straightforward, traditional yellow cake. It's great -- light and vanilla, with a soft, spongy crumb, almost verging on spongecake territory. The cream couldn't be simpler: Mash half the berries, stir in the rest of the berries, fold into sweetened whipped cream. Done.
The result is really nice. The toasty golden cake layers and the tart-sweet berry cream make for a delicious, light dessert. It was an excellent end to our spring dinner.
One note: This cake doesn't store very well. We tried a slice the next day, and it wasn't nearly as good. But we predict you'll have no trouble finding enough people to help you finish it while it's still fresh.
Active time: 45 min | Total time: 1 hr + cooling
unsalted butter, for cake pans
1 recipe Classic Yellow Cake Batter (see below)
2 cups raspberries
3 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
2 cups cold heavy cream
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter two 9-inch round cake pans (2 inches deep). Line bottoms with parchment paper; butter parchment. Divide batter between pans, firmly tap on a flat surface to remove air bubbles, and smooth tops.
Bake until cakes are golden and puffed and a toothpick inserted in center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, about 30 minutes, rotating pans halfway through. Let cakes cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes. Run a knife around edges, then invert; remove parchment. Invert cakes again and let cool completely on racks.
In a medium bowl, gently mash 1 cup raspberries with a fork. Stir in 1 cup whole raspberries. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat cream and confectioners' sugar on high until soft peaks form, 1 minute. With a rubber spatula, gently fold raspberries into whipped cream. Place 1 cake on a cake stand or serving plate. Spread raspberry cream on top, leaving a 1/4-inch border. Top with other cake, press gently, and finish with remaining raspberry cream. Serve immediately.
Classic Yellow Cake Batter
*Bring cold ingredients to room temperature. Butter should be soft enough to hold a thumbprint but still keep its shape.
In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter and 1 3/4 cups sugar on high until light and fluffy, about 6 minutes.
Beat in 4 large eggs plus 2 large egg yolks, one at a time, until combined. Beat in 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract.
In another large bowl, whisk together 3 cups cake flour (spooned and leveled), 1 tablespoon baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon fine salt.
With mixer on low, add 1/3 the flour mixture to butter mixture, beating to combine.
Beat in 3/4 cup buttermilk, another 1/3 the flour mixture, another 3/4 cup buttermilk, and remaining flour mixture until just combined. Scrape down bowl as needed.