Summery Lemon Blueberry Cake

It’s summertime and I’m home! Being back in my own kitchen feels so easy, so comfortable, and so calm. There’s a pantry full of my favorite spices, a mixer that works, an oven that won’t set the fire alarm off, and all the time in the world. Don’t get me wrong, I’m very thankful to have any kitchen in college, but this is so much better. Home → kitchen → kitchen + time → happy Kas → more recipes.

I’m looking forward to being creative this summer, but I wanted to start off with something fruity, summery, and guaranteed to be good. I always pair blueberry with lemon — it’s a fail-proof flavor combination.

This cake was made with three layers of white sour cream cake, layered with a tart and sweet lemon blueberry filling, covered in an addictingly good lemon buttercream. The cake and filling recipes are based off of A Modern Kitchen Guide, published in Chicago in 1946. This is my first Midwestern cookbook, but I purchased it in New York City in October at Bonnie Slotnick Cookbooks. I was walking along East 2nd Street with a group of new college friends who didn’t know me quite well enough to understand why I freaked out when I saw this sign:

Cookbooks?! A vintage looking drawing of a lady in an apron?! It looked so promising! Sure enough, it was an entire store full of old cookbooks. I was in heaven. I recognized copies of many of my cookbooks on the shelves in the store: classics like Fannie Farmer and Better Homes and Gardens. Read more about the store here and definitely go check it out if you are in the city.

Since October, well, life happened, and I didn’t get to use the book until this week. This is its blog debut!

So, let’s get started with the cake:

The white sour cream cake has a great dense but moist texture, and is very simple. Sour cream is used instead of milk and oil or butter. It serves as the dairy and the oil, so get the full fat stuff! (Just as a general rule, always bake with full fat everything.)

Next we add some basic dry ingredients and whisk to a nice smooth, white batter. While the cakes are baking, you can work on the filling and the buttercream.

For the filling we’ll need lemon juice, water, cornstarch, lemon zest, sugar, and egg yolks. We’ll mix them all together and cook them in a double boiler until nicely thickened. Then throw in some fresh blueberries and let them get juicy for a pink blueberry lemonade filling. Let that cool while the cakes cool, then you’re ready to layer.

Add together beautiful moist cake + thin layer of buttercream + tart lemon blueberry filling. Repeat. Cover in remaining buttercream. Decorate, refrigerate, devour at your leisure.

Lemon Blueberry Cake

Makes: 3 9-inch rounds, 8–12 servings Time: 40 mins active, 20 mins baking
For the cake: 1.5 cups sour cream, 1.5 cups sugar, 2 eggs, 3 tsp vanilla extract, 1/2 tsp baking soda, 1.5 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp salt, 2 1/2 cups flour
For the filling: zest of 2 lemons, juice of 2 lemons, 1.5 cups white sugar, 3 tbsp cornstarch, 4 egg yolks (beaten), 1/2 c hot water, 1 cup fresh blueberries
For the buttercream: 1/2 cup butter, juice of 1 lemon, zest of lemon, 3–4 cups powdered sugar
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line 3 round, 9-inch cake pans with parchment paper. Grease with butter and dust with flour, or spray with nonstick baking spray. Set aside.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, sour cream, sugar, and vanilla until fully combined.
3. Sift flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt and add to whisked wet ingredients. Whisk batter until it is smooth with no lumps.
4. Divide batter between prepared cake pans and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 15–20 minutes, or until lightly golden (a skewer inserted in the middle should come out with a slight crumb.)
5. While the cakes are baking, make the filling. In a metal (or the most heat-conducting material you have) bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, cornstarch, sugar, and lemon zest. Add lemon juice and water, and immediately start cooking the mixture in a double boiler. Stir consistently. It may take up to 15 minutes to thicken. Once the mixture is about the consistency of honey, add blueberries and cook for about 4 more minutes, allowing berries to soften, but not disintegrate. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. (You can refrigerate to expedite the cooling.)
6. To make the buttercream, beat softened butter with lemon juice, lemon zest, and 3 cups of powdered sugar. If the icing is too thick, add more powdered sugar, or if it’s too thin, add a few drops of milk until you reach desired smooth, spreadable consistency.
7. Layer cooled cakes with a thin (very thin! you’ll want to save lots for the top) layer of buttercream and a layer of blueberry lemon filling. Decorate as you wish, and enjoy!

These recipes were based off of recipes for a white sour cream cake and the filling of a lemon cream pie, both from A Modern Kitchen Guide (1946):

This guy is very, very simple. All you need is some fruit and the basic baking ingredients in your pantry. This down-to-earth cake is bright and fresh, simple and homey — the perfect end to a casual dinner with friends and family during the early days of summer.

So go buy some local blueberries and get baking! (or maybe blackberries, or strawberries… it’s bound to be good!)

You can follow Baking in Black and White here on Medium, or on Pinterest, Facebook, or Tumblr for more baking tips and antique-cookbook inspired recipes.

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