Vanilla layered Berry Cake

Unlike most food holidays, the Fourth of July is a day that tends to sneak up on us. People usually resort to their usual BBQ selection with classic potato salads, and ice cream for dessert. This year, on the other hand, I will not let the day go by without preparation; which begins now with some prideful recipes like this Vanilla layered Berry Cake!

Dessert is especially overlooked at BBQ's because it is hot and let's face it, who wants to be indoors when the fun's outside. Over the years I have come to realize that if you go the extra mile to prepare a wonderfully delicious dessert in advance, 9/10 people will eat it and appreciate you for turning on those ovens in 80° weather!

This layered cake is spongy, light, and the perfect canvas for the whipped cream cheese frosting and berries!

 
My Portuguese Mother - Vanilla layered Berry Cake
My Portuguese Mother - Vanilla layered Berry Cake
My Portuguese Mother - Vanilla layered Berry Cake

Ingredients 

Vanilla Cake 

  • 3 and 2/3 cups cake flour

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1 and 1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened to room temperature

  • 2 cups granulated sugar

  • 3 large eggs, room temperature

  • 2 egg whites, room temperature

  • 1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract 

  • 1 and 1/2 cups buttermilk, at room temperature

Heavy Cream Frosting 

  • 1 cup powdered sugar

  • 4 oz. cream cheese

  • 2 3/4 cups heavy cream, cold

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)

  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract

  • 2 cups variety berries, sliced and halved ( such as strawberries, blueberries, blackberries)

  • 1 cup sliced pineapple, save the juice for soaking cake

Recipe

Vanilla Cake 

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease & line three 8-inch cake pans.

  2. Whisk the cake flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda together. Set aside.

  3. Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar together until smooth and creamy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides, beat in the 3 eggs, 2 egg whites, and vanilla extract until combined. (Mixture will look curdled, don’t worry!)

  4. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. With the mixer on low, add the dry ingredients until just combined. With the mixer running on low speed, pour in the buttermilk, and mix just until combined. Using a whisk or rubber spatula, fold the batter, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl, ensuring there are no lumps. 

  5. Pour batter evenly into pans. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow cakes to cool.

Heavy Cream Frosting 

  1. In a cold mixing bowl, beat the whipping cream, cream cheese, vanilla extract. Add the confectioners' sugar on medium speed until fluffy. 

  2. To assemble, place one of the cooled layers on a cake plate. Using a pastry brush, soak the layer with the pineapple juice. Add a ½ cup of the frosting, roughly spread and top with a ½ cup of the berries and pineapples. Repeat until the last layer. For the top, add the remaining frosting and decorate with berries. 



Passion Fruit & Lemon Tart

Easter is fast approaching, so this week I’ll be posting some of my favorite spring-inspired dishes that are perfect for your Easter table.

Starting with my favorite topic, dessert! During the warmer months, I like to use my oven as less as possible. I love doing desserts that are quick to assemble, bright, and that incorporate fruit! One of my go-to recipe is a citrus tart. You do need to use the oven to bake your crust, but it’s only for 15 minutes, and the rest is done over stove top then chilled in the fridge until it’s all set!

Passion fruit and lemon curd tart will be the star of your table this spring. It’s tart and sweet and a perfect finish for after a heavy Easter meal! Use the leftover egg white to make a meringue to decorate the top of the tart!

 
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Ingredients 

Crust

  • 8 oz  graham crackers

  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar

  • 6  tablespoons butter, melted

Filling

  • ½ cup  fresh passionfruit pulp

  • 1 cup sugar

  • 4 eggs, plus 3 egg yolks

  • ½ cup of lemon juice

  • Zest of 1 ½ lemons

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

Recipe

Crust

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

  2. In a food processor, pulse grahams until finely ground. Pour sugar and melted butter, pulse until mixture resembles wet sand.

  3. Place mixture into tart pan and press evenly into the bottom and sides of the pan. Blind bake the crust by placing a piece of parchment paper, or aluminum foil on top of the crust. Pour in pie weights, or dried beans.

  4. Bake for 10-12 minutes

  5. Carefully remove the parchment/aluminum foil and  the weights, or beans, and allow to cool.

Filling

  1. In a medium-size saucepan, place the sugar and eggs, and whisk until light and pale. Whisk in the zest, and juice of the lemons, and the passion fruit pulp.

  2. Place the saucepan over low-medium heat and constantly whisk until mixture has  thickened. Do not boil.

  3. Remove the saucepan from the stove, and whisk in room temperature butter.

  4. Pass the curd through a sieve, making sure  you have a smooth curd. Let cool.

  5. Once the crust and mixture is cooled, about 30 minutes. Pour the curd into the crust and refrigerate until set.

  6. Decorate with prepared meringue. Best served  cool.