Cook's Country airs Saturdays at noon.
In our Instagram era, people have come up with all sorts of visually appealing desserts, from raindrop cakes to souffle pancakes to all sorts of black-stained treats made from activated charcoal. But you want your dessert to not just look great but taste great, too, so why not take a simple classic instead of a fad and dress it up with a decorative effect? That's exactly what the stalwarts at Cook's Country have done with this Blueberry Jam Cake, incorporating different ratios of jam into the same frosting to achieve three different shades of purple and a lovely shaded ombre gradient. It may require a bit more effort, but it will look stunning in a picture – or you could just bypass making it look pretty and dive right in.
Blueberry Jam Cake
To achieve the proper ombre effect (colors that blend into one another from dark to light) with the frosting, having a cake stand with a turntable is a must. Also, we found that we needed to pass the portion of the blueberry filling used in the frosting through a fine-mesh strainer, or it left the frosting full of ugly bits of skin that marred the appearance of the cake. And because the filling contains pectin, we found that we could add increasing amounts of filling to the frosting to get the different shades of color without diluting it (although, in a warm kitchen, chilling the dark shades of frosting helps). Cream cheese frosting was the perfect pairing for blueberries—we preferred it to plain buttercream frosting.
Serves: 14 to 16
1 cup whole milk, room temperature
6 large egg whites, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups (9 ounces) cake flour
1 3/4 cups (12 1/4 ounces) sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened but still cool
1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
2 tablespoons low- or no-sugar-needed fruit pectin
15 ounces (3 cups) fresh or thawed frozen blueberries
1 tablespoon lemon juice
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) sifted confectioners' sugar
8 ounces cream cheese, cut into 8 pieces and softened
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 (8-inch) white layer cake rounds
1. For the Cake Rounds: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 9-inch or three 8-inch round cake pans, line with parchment paper, grease parchment, and flour pans.
2. Mix milk, egg whites, and vanilla together in 2-cup liquid measuring cup. Using stand mixer fitted with paddle, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt on low speed until combined, about 5 seconds. Add butter, 1 piece at a time, and mix until only pea-size pieces remain, about 1 minute.
3. Add half of milk mixture, increase speed to medium-high, and beat until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Reduce speed to medium-low, add remaining milk mixture, and beat until incorporated, about 30 seconds (batter may look slightly curdled). Give batter final stir by hand.
4. Divide batter evenly between prepared pans and smooth tops with rubber spatula. Bake until tops are light golden and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 18 to 22 minutes (for 8-inch pans) or 20 to 25 minutes (for 9-inch pans), rotating pans halfway through baking. Let cakes cool in pans on wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove cakes from pans, discarding parchment, and let cool completely on rack, about 2 hours.
5. For the Jam Filling: Process granulated sugar, pectin, and salt in food processor until combined, about 3 seconds. Add blueberries and pulse until chopped coarse, 6 to 8 pulses. Transfer blueberry mixture to medium saucepan and bring to simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until mixture is bubbling and just starting to thicken, 6 to 8 minutes. Off heat, stir in lemon juice. Transfer 1 1/3 cups jam to small bowl, cover, and refrigerate until firm, about 3 hours. Strain remaining jam through fine-mesh strainer, cover, and set aside at room temperature. (You should have at least 1/4 cup.)
6. For the Frosting: Using stand mixer fitted with paddle, beat butter and confectioners’ sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add cream cheese, 1 piece at a time, and beat until no lumps remain. Add vanilla and 2 tablespoons strained jam and mix until incorporated. Transfer 1/3 cup frosting to each of 2 small bowls. Add 1 teaspoon strained jam to first bowl and 1 tablespoon strained jam to second bowl, stirring well to combine. (You should have 3 shades of frosting.)
7. To Assemble: Place 1 cake round on cake turntable. Spread 2/3 cup chilled jam in even layer over top. Place second cake round on top of jam and repeat with remaining chilled jam. Place third cake round on top. Spread small amount of lightest-colored frosting in even layer over top and sides of cake. Using small offset spatula, spread darkest-colored frosting over bottom third of sides of cake; medium-colored frosting over middle third; and remaining lightest-colored frosting over top third. While spinning cake turntable, run spatula from bottom to top of side of cake to blend frosting colors. While spinning cake turntable, run spatula over top of cake, working from outside in to create spiral. Serve.