When I came home from work on Thursday, the house was quiet. Rain had just started lightly falling, the sky was dark with clouds and there was a faint rumble of thunder in the air.
Moments like that always make me feel at peace.
And somehow, they make the words I write flow more readily.
I set a pan on the stove, dropped in a handful of blue raspberry Skittles and covered the candy with water to make a candy-flavored syrup for a batch of birthday cupcakes I was going to make the next day. As the bright blue liquid hissed and bubbled - looking a bit like a cauldron of witch's brew - the water evaporated away, leaving behind the sugary syrup, and I listened to the rain.
To the sound the cars made splashing by on the slick streets. To the distant thunder. I wished it would rain harder, thunder louder, enveloping me in the homey comfort of a stormy night.
I waited for Jamie to get home. I always feel cuddly when it rains.
Evenings like that one make summer feel like it's almost over, with fall just peeking around the corner, teasing me with its brown suede boots, crunchy leaves underfoot and steaming cups of hot apple cider, but I try not to get ahead of myself. It's still summer, and will be for a while yet, no matter that Hobby Lobby has already filled their front aisles with fall and winter decorations. My boots will have to continue their summer nap at the back of the closet for now.
Before summer ended, there was a cake I felt I must make. I had envisioned a few variations of this Lemon Blueberry Cake, such as blueberry filling inside the cake with sunny yellow buttercream, or fresh blueberries covering the entire cake.
But in the end, I decided on a lemon cake, very lemony with lots of fresh lemon zest and juice, full of plump juicy blueberries, tart lemon curd between the cake layers, and blueberry buttercream with elegant dots and ruffled edges. The buttercream turned out to be lavender rather than blue, but that was to be expected since blueberries really are more purple than blue.
A friend told me that my lemon cake has ruined them for all other lemon cakes. It was a wonderful compliment to my cake.
The rain was still pitter-pattering and the thunder had deepened by the time Jamie got home. With no music, no TV, just the sounds of the damp evening, it wasn't long before he fell asleep next to me on the couch while I rubbed his head.
One Year Ago: Mini Mint Chocolate Chip Mascarpone Pies
Two Years Ago: A Summer BBQ Dinner Party
Lemon Blueberry Cake
· 2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour, plus 2 tablespoons, divided
· 1 ¾ cups granulated sugar
· 1 ¼ teaspoons baking soda
· 1 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
· 1 teaspoon salt
· 3 eggs, room temperature
· 1 cup buttermilk
· ¾ cup fresh lemon juice
· ¾ cup vegetable oil
· Zest of 3 large lemons
· 1 ½ cups fresh blueberries
· 1 cup lemon curd
· 1 cup blueberry juice (fresh or bottled)
· 2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
· 4 cups powdered sugar
· 2 tablespoons meringue powder
· 1 teaspoon vanilla
· Milk, if needed
· Fresh blueberries
Bake the Cake:
Preheat the oven to 350. Spray the bottoms of three 8-inch round cake pans with non-stick spray, line with parchment paper, and spray the paper also.
In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour (except for 2 tablespoons), sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add the eggs, buttermilk, lemon juice, oil and lemon zest, and beat for 2-3 minutes until smooth. Toss the blueberries with the 2 tablespoons flour, and fold the blueberries into the batter.
Divide the batter between the pans. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden and a toothpick comes out clean. Set pans on wire racks, cover loosely with a clean kitchen towel and cool completely.
Make the Buttercream:
Pour the blueberry juice into a saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium low heat. Simmer until reduced until to ¼ cup; juice will be syrupy. Cool completely.
In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the butter for 1 minute. Combine the powdered sugar and meringue powder and add by spoonfuls to the butter, while mixing on low. Add the vanilla and the reduced blueberry juice; increase speed to medium high and whip until light and fluffy, scraping the bowl occasionally, for 4-5 minutes.
Assemble the Cake:
Remove the cakes from the pans, peel off the parchment paper, and level the tops if needed. Set one cake on a cake stand. Spread half the lemon curd over the cake (I like to pipe a “dam” of buttercream around the edge of the cake before spreading with the filling, to ensure the filling doesn’t leak out). Top with the second layer of cake and repeat with the rest of the lemon curd. Top with the third layer of cake.
Frost the cake all over with a thin crumb coat of buttercream, then chill in the refrigerator for 15 minutes to set before frosting with the final coat of buttercream. Pipe decorative swirls if you like, and garnish with fresh blueberries.
Recipe from Curly Girl Kitchen