Let Them Eat Cake!

Two years ago, I shared this beautiful “Cheater’s” Cake – it’s a combination of “scratch” and “box” baking. While  the cake begins from a box, there is a little “doctoring” to bring out a wonderful flavor and texture. The frosting and berry filling are from scratch. And the fresh berry topping – look at all the color! How delightful.

This cake should have been a part of my Labor Day – Oh My! menu. It’s perfect any Red, White and Blue celebration – Memorial Day, 4th of July – with a few well-placed mint leaves; it could even be  part of a Christmas jubilee. My family loves all the layers and flavors and textures. Yeah, it’s a sinfully delightful party in your mouth.

For all those reasons, I thought it was worth another look. . . .

Before we get to baking, I want to give you a few pointer I learned the hard way.

First, the filling – the original recipe said to mash the blueberries with a fork. This seemed tedious, so I decided to “squish” them with my hands. Almost immediately into the squashing process, I realized it was a mistake. While the berries were mushing up nicely, my hands were becoming a beautiful shade of color me purple. A potato masher works well without staining your hands.

Next – the piping along the top of the finished cake. Don’t get too close to the edge or the pretty stars might just shift off the cake when you start spreading the berries on top.

Finally, you’ll want to make your cake in the morning so everything has time to set up nicely. Then keep it refrigerated until about 30 minutes before serving.

Hope you enjoy!

French Vanilla Cake with Blueberry Filling and Fresh Berry Basket
Cake:
1 Box French Vanilla White Cake
3 Eggs
1/4 Cup Vegetable Oil
1/4 Cup Melted butter
1 Cup Water

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Place eggs in a mixing bowl. Beat with paddle until pale, about 2 minutes.

Melt butter in a microwave safe dish. Add to eggs. With paddle running, slowly add vegetable oil and water until light and frothy.

Add cake mix, blend for 30 seconds on low, then 2 minutes on medium high.

Prepare 2 round cake pans with Wilton’s Cake Release.

Divide batter between pans. Tap gently to release any air bubbles.

Bake in oven for about 20 minutes, check for doneness. If necessary, bake an additional 10 minutes, checking every 5 minutes. Cake should be “just done” since it will continue to cook in the pan after being removed from the oven.

Place cake while still in the pan onto cooling racks. Let cool 10 minutes.

Remove from pans, and allow to cool completely on racks, about 2 hours.

Blueberry Filling:
2 1/2-pint baskets blueberries
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Mash BlueberriesIn a large bowl, mash blueberries. Combine berries, sugar, and lemon juice in heavy small saucepan and heat over high heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves.

Reduce heat to medium to maintain a rolling boil and continue to cook, stirring constantly until berries are reduced to about 3/4 cup. This should take about 15 minutes.

Pour mixture into a bowl and allow to cool, stirring occasionally. Once cooled, cover with plastic wrap to prevent “skin” from forming on top. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Almond Buttercream Frosting:
1/4 Cup Solid Butter-Flavored Vegetable Shortening
3/4 Cup Butter, Softened
1 teaspoon Almond extract
4 Cups sifted powdered Sugar
3 tablespoons heavy cream (approximately)

Cream butter and shortening with electric mixer. Add almond extract. Beat to blend.

Gradually add powdered sugar, one cup at a time, beating well on medium speed. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl between additions and after the last of the sugar has been added.

When all sugar has been mixed in, the frosting will appear to be dry. Add cream one tablespoon at a time and beat a medium speed until light and fluffy. Keep frosting covered with a damp cloth until ready to use.

Sift Powdered SugarSifted Powdered SugarTIP: The best way to sift powdered sugar is to use a strainer, a large bowl and a wooden spoon. Sift about 2 cups at a time through the strainer. Use the spoon to “stir” the sugar through the strainer and into the bowl. It makes quick work of sifting the sugar. This method can also be used for flour or baking cocoa.

Spread BlueberriesTo Assemble Cake: Trim “dome” from one cake round to make cake even. Place cut-side down on serving platter. Generously spoon filling over cake, and spread to within 1/4 inch of edge.

Trim “dome” from remaining cake. Place on top, cut side down. Press down slightly. Let cake rest a few minutes for filling to settle.

Frost sides of cake, pressing frosting into join between cakes to fill in any gaps. Lightly frost top of cake.

Using a star tip, pipe border around top edge to create a “rim”. Pipe matching stars along base of cake.

Finished CakeFruit Basket:
1 Basket Blackberries
1 Basket Raspberries
1/2 Jar Current Jelly for Glaze

Rinse berries, let drain well and pat dry if necessary.

Heat jelly in a saucepan over low heat until melted. Arrange berries on top of cake, brush with glaze.

Refrigerate finished cake up to 6 hours.  Remove from refrigerator about 30 minutes before serving.

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