Have you been to a farmers’ market recently? So many tasty summer fruits and vegetables have shown up on the stands in the past few weeks! So many tomatoes, blueberries, watermelon, and summer squash adorn the colorful market stands and entice me each week with their fresh flavors and inspire me to cook with local, seasonal ingredients.
One of our favorite vendors at our local farmers’ market is a couple that sells small-batch jams, jellies, and preserves made from locally grown ingredients. In the spring their roasted strawberry preserves and strawberry basil jams are stellar, but this time of year we always go to them for their blueberry jams and preserves. We always try to snag one of the few jars of grown up blueberry jam (blueberry jam with rum) for my mom, but this time around another version of the blueberry spread caught our eyes: blueberry honeysuckle and elderflower jam. How perfect and summery?
We celebrated my brother’s birthday last weekend with our extended family, and while I already had the vanilla cake layers ready, I was stumped on how to make the frosting light and summery, but still delicious and different. Fresh blueberry jam from the farmers’ market seemed like the perfect solution. While you may not be able to find such a unique blueberry jam at the store, regular blueberry jam or preserves will do the trick to make this frosting fresh, flavorful, and delicious.
Vanilla cake with blueberry frosting was light and fluffy all around, with a hint of sweet summer berries. Swiss meringue buttercream frosting takes a bit of work, but is not too sweet, holds up well in the summer heat, and is a great base for mix-ins like blueberry jam. I kept this summer cake simple with just a vanilla cake base to allow the blueberry frosting to take the spotlight, but if you want to get even more creative or add different flavors, spread lemon curd or basil simple syrup between the cake and frosting layers. The frosting is also easily adaptable for the seasons – just swap blueberry jam with other seasonal jellies and jams (strawberry rhubarb would be delicious in the spring).
Enjoy all of the fresh fruit summer has to offer in this vanilla cake with blueberry frosting.
Mini Vanilla Cake with Blueberry Frosting
1 ¾ cup sugar
2 ½ cups flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 ½ teaspoons salt
1 cup milk
½ cup canola oil
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
¾ cup boiling water
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray three 6-inch cake pans (or 2 8-inch cake pans, if making a full sized cake) with nonstick spray and line the bottom of each pan with a circle of parchment paper.
In a large bowl, whisk together all of the dry ingredients. In a separate medium bowl, wisk together all of the wet ingredients except for the boiling water. Whisk the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until incorporated, then stir in the boiling water. The batter will be thin and runny.
Pour the batter into the cake pans, distributing it evenly between them. Bake for 20-35 minutes (on the shorter side for mini cakes, on the longer side for regular-sized cakes) or until the tops are barely golden and a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Let the cakes cool in their pans for 10 minutes then transfer them from the pans to a wire cooling rack to cool completely before frosting.
3 egg whites
¾ cup sugar
¾ cup unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 tablespoons blueberry jam or preserves*
* I have found blueberry preserves at the store from Bonne Maman, Stonewall Kitchen and Smuckers
Boil a small saucepan (or double boiler) of water. In a heatproof bowl, lightly whisk egg whites and sugar over, but not touching, the boiling water. You want to gently heat the eggs so they get warm but not cooked. Whisk until the sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture is warm to the touch (it should reach 155 to 160 degrees F on a candy thermometer). Transfer the egg white-sugar mixture to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on high speed for about 8-10 minutes, until the meringue is shiny, holds stiff peaks, and has cooled to room temperature. The outside of the mixing bowl should be room temperature when you touch it.
Swap the whisk attachment for the paddle attachment and begin to add the butter, one tablespoons at a time, mixing well after each addition. Adding the butter too quickly can cause your buttercream to curdle. If it curdles, keep beating – it should eventually get back to the right texture. After all of the butter has been added, increase speed to high and beat until thick and very fluffy. If your frosting gets too liquidy here, switch to your whisk attachment and whip until it returns to a spreadable texture. Stop the mixer and add the bourbon. Mix on medium speed and add in the blueberry jam or preserves. Beat again until jam is thoroughly mixed and frosting is still fluffy. Use immediately, or cover and refrigerate in an airtight container until ready to use. If you refrigerate the buttercream, let it warm to room temperature before using and beat it again until it becomes fluffy again. If your buttercream is too liquidy to use, place it in the fridge for about 15 minutes, then beat it again.
Use a long serrated knife (like a bread knife) to level your cakes. Place a generous dollop of frosting in between each layer and on top of the stack. Spread a thin layer of frosting all over the edges and use an icing spatula (to spread it around and scrape down the sides until they’re smooth. Top with blueberries and enjoy!
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