Back in October — nearly four months ago now — I made a cake to celebrate our seventh wedding anniversary. Each year since we’ve been married no matter where we’ve lived (and sometimes this necessitated bringing back a jar of blackberry jam from the States) I’ve made a small version of our wedding cake. This involves baking a lightly scented vanilla cake, making lemon curd from scratch, and whipping up a big bowl of vanilla buttercream frosting. The cake layers sandwich alternating and generous spoonings of the lemon curd and jam. Then the whole thing is enrobed in frosting. It’s good. It’s very, very good. But it’s also very sweet and a bit heavier than I like these days. For this last anniversary cake I decided to keep the general idea of the cake in place but lighten it up a little. I switched plain whipped cream for buttercream and eliminated the lemon curd completely, creating instead a sort of of jam and cream cake that tasted like what I imagine a blackberry infused cloud would taste like.
In hindsight I realize this cake is nearly identical to the rhubarb cream cake I made during our first months in Australia. (Little did I know I’d move again just over a year later and discover a healthy rhubarb plant growing in our backyard. I have big plans for that rhubarb.) Those first months in Sydney I was literally entranced by the gorgeous selection of produce, most of it grown in-country. After years in the desert it was a blessed anomaly to encounter a wide selection of apples, pears, and truly beautiful cauliflower (I miss that cauliflower still!). I went a bit nuts for rhubarb and that cake is one I’ve forgotten about but surely will make again when our own rhubarb is back in season.
In other thoughts, happy new year! Can you believe we’re a month into it? I’ve not made any resolutions other than the rather pedestrian “eat more vegetables” which is going swimmingly, thanks, and I’ve managed to cut down on my previously rampant cheese consumption. More banana (-raspberry) “nice cream” in the evenings and rice cakes topped with peanut butter than bowls of ice cream. Thanks to my husband’s long furlough I was able to increase my running mileage and it’s true that the more you exercise and the better you eat the more you want to exercise and the better you want to eat. Just me? If I let myself I’d eat cheese and cream cake and cookies from here until eternity but I don’t think my body and cholesterol levels would appreciate it. Still, this cream cake is quite glorious and when spring is officially sprung I’ll make it as my Easter dinner dessert (with strawberry jam) and will wait patiently until then, eating my red cabbage and chickpea stir fries with quinoa for lunch (I thought I’d written about that one years ago but a quick search reveals I never did; I’ll add it to the list because it’s a good one). I am in the thick of trying to consistently make one family meal that appeals to all (ha) while still keeping it healthy and with a variety of vegetables. I’ll write more about this sometime, too.
’til then …
This cake can also be baked in a 9-inch round cake pan. Substitute any jam of your choice!
Makes 1 8 or 9-inch round layer cake.
Cake, adapted from Martha Stewart
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup spelt flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup raw sugar
2 large eggs plus 2 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup whole milk
1 jar of blackberry jam
1 pint of heavy whipping cream, whipped until soft peaks form
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter bottom of an 8-inch round cake pan and line with parchment paper. Butter and flour paper and sides. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
Using an electric mixer on high speed, beat butter and sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Add eggs and yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. With mixer on low, alternately add flour mixture in 3 parts and milk in 2, beginning and ending with flour mixture; mix just until combined. Spread batter in prepared pan.
Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool in pan 10 minutes; invert onto a wire rack to cool completely. Using a serrated knife, split cake in three layers horizontally; place one layer, cut side up, on a serving plate. Spread generously with blackberry jam and a medium-thick layer of whipped cream. Repeat with the second layer. Top with the final layer and use the remaining whipped cream to cover the top and sides of the cake. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve and refrigerate the leftovers.