You are very very lucky my friends. Very very lucky to be reading this post. Since the moment I decided to put my Naked Lemon and Berry Cake with Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting up on My Little Larder the Cake Gods have been against me! I’m not sure what I ever did to anger them. I love cake. I am kind to cake. I eat lots of cake. Cake is good. Mmmmmmm….cake.
The original plan was to use a buttermilk cake for this, but the recipe I came up with was a complete flop. Twice. Guess who was frustrated? That’s an understatement. My husband gave me some good advice (which of course I didn’t want to hear at the time) and said that this is what comes with having a blog and creating recipes, sometimes they just don’t work out and you have to keep trying. He’s right but I still didn’t want to hear it. Round 1 to the Cake Gods.
Buttermilk cake out, vanilla and lemon cake in. Mixer breaks. Really? Come on Cake Gods, you could have come up with something a little more original than breaking my mixer. I have had this little hand mixer for 10 years! We have made huge Christmas Cakes together, endless birthday cakes and even a huge tiered cake for 75 people. It really was an amazing little mixer and I’m a little sad it died, only a little because the bonus is that I can replace it with a standing mixer. Woo hoo! Round 2 to the Cake Gods (secretly I think I’m winning from this round though)!
Vanilla and lemon cake is now replaced with one that doesn’t require creaming the butter. You all know how much I hate creaming butter so you will also know that I’m pretty happy with this switch. Why didn’t I do this in the first place I don’t know? The cake is cooked and comes out beautifully then my friend from the other end of the country calls and surprises me saying she’s in town for the day. I usually do all my cooking and photography on a Sunday morning when my husband takes the boys out for a walk but my friend was coming around instead (yay for friend, boo for not enough time to blog). Round 3 to the Cake Gods.
I was thinking that I could just freeze the cake (it freezes really well if you wrap in tightly in cling wrap) but I had already bought all the berries so I really needed to finish it and photograph it in the next day in the evening after my husband gets home (so he can take the boys) but before the sun goes down. My husband tells me he is flying to Christchurch for the day and is arriving home at 8pm. Can this really be happening? Do I now have to ice, decorate and photograph a cake with a toddler and baby in tow? Round 4 to the Cake Gods.
The next day is 28 degrees Celcius (82F) and 85 percent humidity. Round 5 to the Cake Gods.
I get the toddler to watch some TV (I know, I’m a model parent) and try to put the baby to sleep. Baby refuses to sleep. Whilst my little one only ever sleeps for 30-45min, there normally is never a problem with him falling asleep. Round 6 to the Cake Gods.
Baby finally goes to sleep. Cake is iced and decorated. Start taking photos and my beautiful Naked Lemon and Berry Cake with Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting starts melting and drooping and running. Round 7 to the Cake Gods.
Finally, I get a few hurried shots. I check them and they are actually okay. The cake looks a little lop sided but let’s just call that “rustic looking”. I have a slice and it is delicious – light, airy, lemony cake with creamy Cream Cheese Frosting with little bursts of tart berries. Gorgeous. You did try Cake Gods, gave me one good battle with this cake, but I’m pretty sure I won in the end. What do you think?
The moral of this story is, don’t attempt to make a cake by yourself, with a toddler and baby in tow, without a mixer on a scorching humid day. Who would have thought?
Enjoy. Kate xo
Naked Berry Cake with Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting
Lemon and Vanilla Cake:
- 175 g/6.1oz unsalted butter
- 3 free range eggs room temperature
- 1 cup milk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 3/4 cup flour
- 3 tsp baking powder
- 1 1/4 cups sugar
- zest of 1 lemon
Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting:
- 125 g/ 1 stick unsalted butter room temperature
- 250 g/8.8oz cream cheese room temperature
- 3 1/2 cups icing confectioner’s sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla paste or extract
- 4 Tbsp orange or berry flavoured liqueur optional
- 4 Tbsp sugar syrup optional
- 250 g/9 oz strawberries quartered or halved depending on size
- 125 g/4.4oz blueberries/blackberries/cherries/raspberries
- plus extra berries and flowers to decorate
For the cake:
Preheat oven to 160C/325F fan-bake. Grease and line two 15cm/6in cake tins.
Place butter in a medium sized bowl and melt in the microwave (alternatively melt in a small saucepan over the stove and transfer to a medium bowl). Allow to cool for 5 minutes then add eggs, milk and vanilla extract. Lightly beat to combine.
In a large bowl sift together the flour, baking powder and sugar. Add the lemon zest and mix to combine.
Make a well in the centre and add the wet ingredients. Mix until all the ingredients are combined.
Divide between the two tins and place in a preheated oven to bake for 45-55 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.
Allow cakes to cool in their tins for 10 min before turning out and leaving to cool completely on a wire rack.
For the frosting:
In a large bowl beat together the butter and cream cheese until pale and fluffy, either using an electric mixer or by hand. Slowly add the icing sugar 1/2 cup at a time ensuring it is fully incorporated before adding more. Once all the icing sugar is combined add the vanilla and beat for another 4-5 minutes or until the frosting is pale and fluffy.
If the icing is too soft place in the refrigerator for 15-30 min until it is firm enough to ice with.
Frosting is best made on the day of serving, but it can be made a day in advance and placed in an air tight container in the refrigerator. When ready to use, remove from the refrigerator and beat until frosting is smooth again.
Cut the rounded dome tops off both of the cakes to ensure they are flat. Cut each cake in half. It is easiest to do this with a bread knife.
OPTIONAL: Frosting is designed to keep a cake moist and fresher for longer, therefore a naked or semi-naked cake (technically what this one is) can have a tendency to dry out if it is not served relatively soon after making. This cake does tend to keep quite moist as it is but to keep it even more moist then you can use a pastry brush to brush each cake with a little liqueur or sugar syrup - the liqueur also adds a lovely flavour! This is not an essential step and I don’t often do it, but it is an option if you are concerned about your cake drying out.
Using an offset spatula or butter knife, spread 1/3 cup of frosting over the cake layer. Place 1/3 of the strawberries and blueberries on top then cover with another 1/3 cup frosting. Carefully place the other half of the first cake on top then repeat the process with the frosting and strawberries and blueberries. Next carefully place the TOP half of the second cake UPSIDE DOWN on top. By placing the first cake up the right way and the second cake upside down on top you ensure you get a nice flat top and bottom to your cake. Repeat the process with the frosting and berries then place the final cake half on top.
Using an offset spatula, smear a small amount of icing around the sides of the cake (often called dirty icing or crumb coating) and then remove most of this using a bench scraper or offset spatula being careful not to catch and drag the berries.
Place the remaining frosting on the top of the cake, spread out evenly then give the sides one more scrap with the bench scraper to give you a nice clean edge around the top. At this point I would recommend placing the cake in the refrigerator for about 30min to give it time to firm up. It is an exceptionally hot day then I would also recommend you placing it in the refrigerator as you ice each layer for about 15 min.
Finish off by decorating the top with berries and edible flowers and a sprinkle of icing sugar.