lemon blueberry shortcake

Alas! Summer is finally here and so far, so good. I thought that I would be inspired to bake the second I got home, but besides a homemade pizza I have been relatively uninspired. Today I told myself to power through and get my s*** together -- and that is how this cake came to be. I was originally inspired by a recipe for blueberry lemon scone cakes from The Loveless Cafe Cookbook but decided that a cake was more appropriate for a day when I had nothing to do. I wasn't sure if the combination was going to turn out, I feared that it may be too sweet but I must say not bad at all, in fact quite delicious. The fresh ginger in the blueberry mixture is an unexpected complement that helps to soften the sweetness of the almond extract. This cake just screams "summer" to me with the fresh blueberries on top and the sweetened lemon whipped cream in the middle -- to die for.

I used frozen blueberries for the sauce and fresh for the filling, however you could fresh for both. I wouldn't recommend using frozen for the mixture though as the blueberries lose their "crunch." The blueberry sauce takes the most time as it needs to chill for 2 hours, so you will want to make that first and bake the cake in the meantime if you can. I know this looks like a lot of components but they all whip up fairly easily and the cake only takes about 10 minutes to assemble.

Blueberry Sauce
{This makes about 1 and 1/2 cups which is way more than you will need but no worries because this makes a great topping for ice cream or pound cake.}

2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2 teaspoons almond extract

In a medium saucepan over low heat, combine the blueberries, sugar, and lemon zest and cook until the sugar is melted and the berries have popped - about 5 minutes.

Once the berries are popped strain them through a sieve, gently pressing on them with a spatula, leaving only the juice. 

Add the almond extract to the juice and chill in the refrigerator for 2 hours. Discard the blueberry hulls.

Vanilla Cake
{Makes 2, 8 inch cakes}

2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoons kosher salt
1 cup + 6 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
4 eggs, room temperature
2/3 cups whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon vanilla paste - optional

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour 2, 8 inch cake pans and set aside.

Mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium sized bowl. Give the flour a good whisk to air it out.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the butter and sugar and beat on medium high speed until very light and fluffy, about 10 minutes.

Add the eggs one at a time. Beat on low speed for 1 minute and then on medium for about 1 minute or until completely combined. 

In a small bowl combine the milk, vanilla, and vanilla paste (if using).

Add the flour and milk mixtures to the butter mixture alternately in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour. Mix until just combined.

Remove the bowl from the mixer and fold the batter a few to times to ensure that it is fully mixed.

Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until a tester comes out clean.

Let cool in the pans for 10 minutes and then invert on to a cooling rack.

Blueberry Filling
2 and 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
juice from 1/2 of 1 lemon

Add the all of the ingredients to the chilled blueberry sauce and mix thoroughly. Let sit for about 15 minutes so that the sugar can dissolve. 

Separate the blueberries and the sauce using a strainer so that the blueberries are lightly coated with sauce. 

Lemon Curd 
{I used Trader Joe's lemon curd because this cake only uses a small amount, however you are more than welcome to make and use homemade lemon curd.}

2 tablespoons lemon curd

Sweetened Lemon Whip Cream
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest

In the bowl of a stand mixer, (or in a bowl if using a hand mixer) whip the cream on high speed until stiff, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the sugar, vanilla, and lemon zest and beat until fully combined and the whipped cream holds stiff peaks.

To assemble the cake -- the fun part!

On a cake stand or plate, place one of the cooled cakes face down (you may have to level the tops of the cakes using a large bread knife and cutting evenly across the top).

Spread the lemon curd on the cake, keeping the majority of the curd towards the middle to avoid oozing out over the sides.

Spoon the separated blueberries on top of the lemon curd starting in the middle and work out towards the sides. Gently press the blueberries flat with a spoon so that the surface is somewhat flat. Leave about 1/2 inch from the edge of the cake and the blueberries (you may have some berries left over depending on how big/small they are). Drizzle some blueberry sauce (as much or as little as you like) over the blueberries. 

Spoon 3/4 of the whipped cream on top of the blueberries.

Place the second layer of the cake on top of the whipped cream face up. Spoon the rest of the whipped cream on top of the cake in the middle and then spread to the edges (as pictured). Pile the leftover 1/2 cup of blueberries on the whipped cream, placing more in the center and working out. Add some grated lemon zest on top if you wish.

Drizzle the blueberry sauce over the cake (again, as much or as little as you wish).

Serve right away or cover with plastic wrap and keep refrigerated. 

Enjoy and cheers to summer!

<3, The Sweet Petite

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