This Blueberry Cake looks completely unassuming until you pull a slice out… then eyes go wide at the sight of the layers dotted with vibrant pops of blueberries sandwiched with the creamy Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting……
Then just wait until you taste it! It’s ridiculously good!
When time is of the essence, we make a quick wooden-spoon-mixed Lemon Blueberry Yogurt Cake.
But when you want to make a cake to impress, we make THIS Blueberry Cake!
It is a complete and utter celebration of blueberries, bundled up in a combination that can’t be beat. A lemon infused plush cake adapted from this Vanilla Cake, which in itself has amassed a loyal following from all around the world. Juicy pops of blueberry littered throughout. And that fluffy creamy Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting……
Words fail me. It’s just to-die-for!!
What you need for blueberry cake
Here’s what you need for the cake batter:
- Sour cream – the Vanilla Cake batter uses milk which makes a thin batter so the blueberries sink to the base. By switching with sour cream, the batter becomes thick enough to suspend blueberries throughout whilst still achieving the same velvety, fluffy crumb;
- Flour – just plain/all purpose flour works better here than cake flour. However, if you can only get cake flour, it works just fine. The only difference is that the cake surface becomes tacky the next day (not really a big deal in this frosted cake);
- Sugar – superfine / caster sugar works best as it dissolves more easily. But ordinary / granulated sugar is fine too. Please do not substitute with brown sugar or any sugar substitutes;
- Butter – unsalted, the default for baking;
- Eggs – fresher is better, and at room temperature. Fresh eggs fluff better, and fridge-cold eggs take longer to fluff to the same volume. If you don’t know, check how fresh your eggs are;
- Baking powder – for lift. If you don’t use yours regularly, make sure sure it’s still good. Inactive baking powder is a common hidden cause of cake fails;
- Vanilla – for flavour;
- Salt – just a touch perks up the flavours of everything else in the cake; and
- Oil – for a touch of extra moisture but more importantly, it keeps the cake fresh for 5 days. Any neutral flavoured oil works fine here – vegetable, canola, peanut etc.
For the add-ins:
- Blueberries – tossing in a tiny bit of flour helps ensure that the blueberries remain suspended in the cake batter as it cooks; and
- Lemons – we use the zest in the cake, and the juice in the frosting.
Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting
And here’s what you need for the cream cheese frosting.
- Icing sugar – called powdered sugar in America. Heads up Australia: be sure to use SOFT Icing Sugar not pure icing sugar which is used for icing that goes hard, such as Royal Icing used to decorate Gingerbread Men.
- Cream cheese – it must be the brick form which is intended for cooking purposes, not the softer spreadable type that comes in tubs.
The recipe calls for it to be at room temperature which is around 17°C/63°F for baking purposes. This is necessary so it incorporates with the butter easily.
But don’t let it get too soft. Cream cheese is already softer than butter, so if it gets too soft, you’ll end up with a sloppy frosting. Though if this happens, you can just fix it by refrigerating the bowl for 30 minutes, then beating again to fluff it up.
Note: There’s a slightly higher ratio of cream cheese in this than what I use for my Carrot Cake Frosting because the lemon juice thins it out, and also I want it to have a touch more structure so it doesn’t ooze out when you cut the cake.
How to make Blueberry Cake
The batter for this cake is based on my Vanilla Cake in which I provided comprehensive process steps and The Why. Rather than repeating it all, I’ll focus on the essentials for this particular cake.
But to recap on the key points: this method is safer than the usual “cream butter and sugar” cakes, and yields a plush, velvety, professional bakery style crumb. And it stays 100% fresh for 5 days!
1. Toss blueberries with a little flour. This will help ensure they stay suspended throughout the cake as it bakes. We also set aside some blueberries to scatter across the top;
2. Beat eggs & sugar for 7 minutes until tripled in volume. This is the secret to the beautifully light, plush texture of the cake!
3. Sour Cream Mixture – While the eggs are whipping, whisk sour cream, hot butter, vanilla and lemon zest. The mixture will be quite thick, and there will be little lumps which is the zest;
4. Add Dry Ingredients – When eggs are whipped, add the Dry Ingredients (flour etc) slowly in 3 batches, using a low speed. Stop as soon as most of the flour is mixed in;
5. Lighten Sour Cream Mixture – Add some of the egg batter into the Sour Cream Mixture. The purpose of this step is to lighten the Sour Cream Mixture before combining it with the batter which is beautifully aerated so the incorporate together more easily, thereby preserving all those air bubbles we created in Step 2.
6. Mix on low speed until just combined – we don’t want to knock out all those air bubbles we created!
7. Blueberries – Stir through the flour coated blueberries;
8. Cakes pans – Divide the batter between the cake pans, smooth the surface, then scatter with reserved non-flour coated blueberries. These end up just below the surface of the cake. It just helps with a more even distribution of the blueberries (figured out yet that I’m kinda fussy? );
9. Bake for 24 minutes, then cool upside down on a rack. Why upside down? Because it will flatten out any slight dome so there’s no need to trim to make the cakes level.
You’ll know straightaway when you touch the cake that it’s a very special cake because you can feel how plush and velvety it is even on the surface.
Be sure to let it cool fully before frosting, otherwise it will melt!
How to make Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting
The key to a fluffy cream cheese frosting is to beat, beat, beat!
To make the frosting, cream the butter first, then whip the cream cheese, then add the icing sugar/powdered sugar and beat for 3 minutes until it’s fluffy.
Add a pinch of salt, vanilla and lemon juice at the end, then beat again just to mix through. Then spread on each layer of the cake, top and sides. We’re all in for this one!
Sloppy cream cheese frosting?
Butter based frostings can get sloppy when working with it in extreme heat (ie Aussie summer!). It’s an easy fix – just refrigerate the frosting in the bowl for 30 minutes, then beat again just before use.
Also, if at any point while frosting the cake it gets too runny, just refrigerate for 15 minutes then keep going.
I’ve made this cake as a 3 layer cake because…. well, speaking frankly, this isn’t a 10 minute one-bowl cake so if I’m making the effort to make it, I want to go all out. And more layers = higher ratio of frosting to cake.
But it can be made as a 2 layer cake, or 2 x single layer cakes, or one large rectangle cake.
To ensure success….
Firstly, I want to highlight that this recipe is designed to incorporate all sorts of safety measures so it’s as fail-safe as it can be. It is much safer to make than typical cake that start with “cream butter and sugar”, and the results are far better.
And secondly, here are my top tips to ensure success. 6 years of baking questions from readers has given me invaluable insight into the most common causes of issues with baking!
- Read the recipe from start to finish, and watch the video;
- Work in the order of steps as written;
- Baking powder – make sure it’s still active, it can lose rising power even before the expiry date;
- Eggs – make sure they are fresh and at room temperature, they fluff better than fridge cold and old eggs. Here’s how to test how old your eggs are;
- Preheat your oven for 20 minutes before starting – to ensure heat retention when opening to put cakes in; and
- Once you start making the batter, do not stop until it’s in the oven. Aeration in bubbles from beating eggs & activated baking powder can lose rising power. So do not take a call from your chatty Aunt Marge until it’s in the oven!!
You’ve got this. And just imagine the gasps of delight when you pull out that first slice…. it happens, every time!! – Nagi x
Watch how to make it
Blueberry Cake with Lemon Frosting
Adapted from my Vanilla Cake, the crumb is soft and plush, infused with a subtle hint of lemon which goes so well with blueberries. The slight tang of cream cheese frosting is a perfect match for this cake and takes it over the top.
Stays fresh for 5 whole days!
- 2 cups flour , plain / all purpose (Note 1)
- 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder (make sure its still good)
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 4 large eggs (50-55g / 2oz each), at room temp (Note 2)
- 1 1/2 cups sugar , caster / superfine (Note 3)
- 115g / 1/2 cup unsalted butter , melted & HOT
- 1 cup sour cream , full fat, at room temperature (Note 5)
- 3 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 tsp vegetable or canola oil (Note 6)
- 3 tsp lemon zest
- 375g / 2 1/2 cups blueberries (Note 7 for frozen)
- 2 tsp flour
Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting
- 225g / 2 sticks unsalted butter , at room temperature
- 250g / 8oz cream cheese , brick not tub, at room temperature but not too soft (Note 8)
- 4 cups (500g) soft icing sugar / powdered sugar , SIFTED
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- Pinch of salt
- Extra blueberries, lemon slices, edible flowers
Preheat oven: Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F (160°C fan) for 20 minutes before starting the batter. Place one shelf in the middle of the oven, and a second beneath it.
Cake pans: Grease 3 x 20cm / 8” cake pans with butter, then line with parchment / baking paper. (Note 9 more pan sizes)
Blueberries: Set aside ~1/3 of the blueberries (for scattering later). Toss the remaining blueberries in flour.
Be prepared: Have all batter ingredients measured out and ready to add in. New to baking? Read Tips for Success above recipe card.
Combine Dry: Whisk flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Set aside.
Whisk eggs: Beat eggs for 30 seconds on speed 6 of a Stand Mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, or hand beater.
Add sugar, then beat: With the beater still going, pour the sugar in over 45 seconds. Then beat for 7 minutes on speed 8, or until tripled in volume and white.
Gently add flour: Scatter 1/3 flour across surface of whipped eggs, then beat on Speed 1 for 5 seconds. Add half remaining flour, mix on Speed 1 for 5 sec. Add remaining flour, then mix on Speed 1 for 5 – 10 sec until the flour is just mixed in. Once you can’t see flour, stop straight away.
Whisk Wet: Put sour cream, hot butter, vanilla and lemon zest into the now empty flour bowl. Whisk well until smooth.
Temper: Add about 1 1/2 cups of the egg mixture into the sour cream bowl (2 big scoops, no need to be accurate). Whisk well until smooth.
Slowly combine: Turn beater back on Speed 1 then scrape the Sour Cream mixture into the Egg Mixture over 15 seconds, then turn beater off.
Scrape and final mix: Scrape down sides and base of bowl. Beat on Speed 1 for 10 seconds. The batter should be thick but soft, not runny and thin.
Blueberries: Quickly stir in flour coated blueberries.
Divide batter between cake pans, smooth surface. Scatter over reserved blueberries.
Bake 25 minutes or until golden and toothpick inserted into centre comes out clean. (If you cannot fit all pans on one shelf, put 2 pans in the middle shelf and 1 pan underneath. Take the top pans out at 25 minutes, move the lower pan up and bake for a further 3 minutes)
Cool & frost:
Remove from oven. Cool in cake pans for 15 minutes, then gently turn out onto cooling racks. Cool upside down – any slight dome will flatten perfectly (for neat layers).
Frost layers upside down with Cream Cheese Frosting! Decorate with extra blueberries, lemon slices and edible flowers, if desired.
Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting:
Beat butter with whisk attachment in stand mixer for 2 minutes until fluffy and creamy, and it becomes a paler colour. Add cream cheese, then beat for 30 seconds just until smooth.
Add icing sugar / powdered sugar, then gently mix on speed 1 (to avoid a powder storm). If you do get a powder storn, cover with tea towel, then once mostly incorporated, beat on high for a full 3 minutes on Speed 7.
Add vanilla and lemon juice, then beat for a further 30 seconds. Use immediately. (Note 10 re: frosting too runny)
1. Cake flour works just fine with this recipe as well.
2. Eggs – fresh eggs best as they whip better, here’s how to check how fresh your eggs are. Important to be at room temp as they fluff better when whipped which is key to the fluffy texture of this cake. Quick way to warm up fridge cold eggs – place in a large bowl, cover with warm tap water (just warm, not hot), leave for 5 minutes. Wipe dry (to avoid residual water dripping into bowl), then use per recipe.
Large eggs – 50 – 55g / 2 oz per egg is the industry standard of sizes sold as “large eggs” in Australia and the US. If your eggs are significantly larger or smaller in size, just weigh your eggs and use 200 – 220g / 8 oz in total (including shell) or 180 – 200g / 7.3 oz in total excluding shell (this is useful if you need to use a partial egg to make up the total required weight. Just crack eggs, whisk THEN pour into a bowl to measure out what you need).
3. Caster / superfine sugar are finer grains so it dissolves easily when whipped with the eggs. However, granulated / regular sugar works fine too.
4. Baking powder – dead baking powder is a common problem with cake fails. Here’s how to check if it’s still active.
Baking soda (bi-carb) won’t make the cake rise quite as well. If you have no choice, then use 3/4 teaspoons of baking soda.
5. Sour cream – base Vanilla Cake recipe uses milk which makes batter thin, blueberries sink to base. By switching with sour cream, batter becomes thick enough to suspend blueberries throughout. To bring to room temperature, measure out then leave out for 30 minutes or so.
Do not substitute for low fat, it’s not as thick.
6. Oil – just 3 teaspoons makes a noticeable difference to the tenderness of the crumb AND keeps the crumb moist for days.
7. Blueberries – if using frozen, do not thaw, it will leave unsightly streaks in the batter. Measure out, toss with flour, return to freezer until required. Add 1 minute to bake time.
8. Cream Cheese – It must be brick form which is firmer than cream cheese in tubs which are intended for spreading.
SOFTENING NOTE: These days, Philadelphia cream cheese is softer than it used to be straight out of the fridge so don’t leave it out for too long otherwise it will go too soft and you’ll end up with a sloppy frosting. We just want to take the chill out of it. Hot summer day? Leave it in a cool room.
9. Icing sugar – Australia, be sure to get SOFT icing sugar not pure icing sugar. Pure icing sugar is used for hard-set icing like Royal Icing. The frosting will not be as creamy and will get an unpleasant hard crust on the surface
10. Different cake pan size bake times:
- 2 x 20cm / 8″ cake pans- bake 36 min
- 2 x 23 cm / 9″ cake pans – 32 min*
- 3 x 23 cm / 9″ cake pans – 26 min*
- 23 x 33 cm / 13 x 9″ rectangle cake – 35 minutes*
Not yet tested, it’s based on extra baking time of 2 and 3 x 20cm/8″ pans compared to Vanilla Cake.
11. Frosting – If you make ahead, refrigerate then beat to re-fluff. If it gets too sloppy because it’s hot in your kitchen or you softened butter or cream cheese too much, then refrigerate bowl and whisk (covered) for 30 minutes, then beat again for 1 minute on high. You can also refrigerate at any time during frosting process.
12. Different measures in different countries – tablespoon and cup sizes differ slightly from country to country. In most recipes, the difference is not enough to affect the outcome of the recipe, but for baking recipes, you do need to be careful.
I’ve made this cake using both US and Australian cups (the two countries with the greatest size variance) and it came out the same. So you can have confidence that this recipe can be used no matter which country you are in – only exception is Japan (cup sizes are considerably smaller (200ml) so please use weights provided).
For absolutely certainty, opt to use the weights provided (click Metric toggle button above ingredients). Professional kitchens only use weights.
13. Storage – if not frosting immediately once cooled, cover surface with baking paper (so it doesn’t stick to cling wrap), wrap in cling wrap, place in an airtight container. Fridge 5 days, freezer for 3 months.
Frosted cake keeps perfectly for 5 days, best in fridge. But it MUST be served at room temperature otherwise cake will not be as soft as it should be, and frosting will not be creamy. Take out whole cake 1 hour prior, fastest (and neatest option) is to cut cake cold then de-chill slices (15 minutes).
SUMMER NOTE: If super hot where you are (ie Aussie summer!), put the cake in a cool room like bathroom otherwise frosting will get too soft before the middle of the cake de-chills.
13. Nutrition per slice, assuming 12 servings (a BIG slice!). This is a rich cake – it could easily serve 14, if not 16.
Life of Dozer
Because he didn’t get any real blueberries, he had to make do with a giant blueberry toy. Though try as he might, he couldn’t hold it in his mouth!