Erlend’s birthday was this past weekend, and, gasp, we did not celebrate with cake. In fact, he specifically requested that I *NOT* make cake and make him a cobbler instead. I was aghast, but to be honest with you guys, he’d been making this request for years and I’ve just been ignoring him all this time. Because, alas, while I’ve been #teamcake my whole life, he’s been #teampie. Opposites attract, what can I say?
But between you and me, the only reason why I finally caved and made him a birthday pie was because I’d accidentally bought a half flat of berries that needed to be used up fast (seriously—why do berries go bad so quickly?). Even after making a generous berry cobbler, we still had a few flats to burn through. So I made this blackberry almond cake!
I’ve always liked the combination of blackberries and almonds—the nuttiness kind of helps cut away the tartness of the fruit. I decided to take the white cake from my book, Weeknight Baking, but make it with almond milk and extract instead. I was a little worried that it wouldn’t work out since almond milk is much less fatty than traditional whole cow’s milk, but it worked out really well! The almond milk gave the cake a really fine and tender crumb. And for even more almond flavor, I topped it all off with an almond German buttercream frosting.
Are you guys familiar with German buttercream? It’s basically my new favorite thing. Whereas Italian and Swiss buttercream recipes instruct you to make a meringue and whip butter into it, German buttercream is made by first making a pudding, then whipping butter into it. The result is a dreamy frosting that’s easy as heck to pipe, with the taste of vanilla pudding. It’s absolutely perfect with the blackberries and cake—every bite tasted like berries and cream. Enjoy!
- This cake is made up of multiple components: a quick blackberry jam, pudding for the buttercream, and the cake and frosting itself. Both the blackberry jam and the pudding will need to be cooled to room temperature before using in the cake and frosting recipes. As a result, it can take a long time to make this cake from start to finish. I suggest breaking it up over multiple days, since both the jam and pudding will keep in the fridge for up to one week. Just be sure to warm both to room temperature before using in the full recipe! I made the blackberry jam and pudding on Day 1, the cake on Day 2, and then finished by making the frosting and decorating on Day 3.
- When making the cake batter, it’s especially important that your butter, milk, and egg whites are warmed to room temperature—this batter will curdle if some of the ingredients are colder than others.
Blackberry Almond Layer Cake
For the Quick Blackberry Jam
- 8 ounces blackberries (fresh or frozen)
- 2 tightly packed tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- a pinch of kosher salt
For the White Almond Cake
- 3 cups (12 ounces) cake flour
- 2 cups (14 ounces) granulated sugar
- 4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup (8 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes, at room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups (10.65 ounces) unsweetened almond milk, at room temperature
- 5 large egg whites, at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons almond extract
For Almond German Buttercream
- 1 1/2 cup (12 ounces) almond milk
- 1 cup (7 ounces) granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup (1.5 ounces) cornstarch
- 3 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon almond extract
- 2 1/2 cups (20 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
For the Quick Blackberry Jam
- In a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the blackberries, brown sugar, cornstarch and salt. Toss to combine until the fruit is completely coated. Cook, over medium heat, until the most of the berries have burst and their juice is slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Set aside on a wire rack to cool completely before using in the cake. The jam will keep, for up to 1 week, in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
For the White Almond Cake
- Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Generously spray the three cake pans with cooking spray and line the bottoms with a parchment paper circle each. Spray the parchment, too.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Beat on low until just combined, about 15 seconds. Add the butter all at once and beat on low until the mixture has the texture of coarse meal, with pea-sized pieces of butter throughout, about 3 minutes. Add 1 cup (8 ounces) of the almond milk all at once and increase the mixer to medium. Beat until the batter is light and fluffy, about 2 minutes, using a rubber spatula to scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl as necessary. While the batter is mixing, whisk together the egg whites, remaining 1/3 cup (2.65 ounces) almond milk, and almond extract in a large liquid measuring cup. Reduce the mixer to low and add the egg white mixture in two or three additions, scraping down the bottom and sides of the bowl after each addition, then beat until just combined.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pans. If weighing the batter for even layers, note that this recipe makes around 50 ounces of batter; pour 16.65 ounces into each cake pan. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes. When done, the top of the cake should bounce back when gently pressed, and a skewer inserted into the center of the cake should come out with a few crumbs attached. Cool completely in the pan(s) on a wire rack before frosting.
For the Almond German Buttercream
- Pour the almond milk into a medium, heavy bottomed saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat.
- Meanwhile, whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, and eggs in a medium heatproof bowl. Once the milk is at a simmer, ladle approximately 1/2 cup of milk into the eggs and whisk to combine. Repeat with two more 1/2 cup additions, then pour the warmed eggs into the pot. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the pudding turns thick and lumpy, about 3 minutes. Once the pudding begins bubbling, continue cooking and whisking for 2 minutes more.
- Pour the custard into a fine mesh sieve set over a medium bowl, using a rubber spatula to press the pudding into the sieve and discard any remaining lumps. Immediately whisk in the almond extract. Set the bowl on a wire rack and cool completely before proceeding with the next step.
- Once the pudding is at room temperature, place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. With the mixer still on medium speed, add the pudding, one or two tablespoons at a time, one right after the other. Once all the pudding has been incorporated, use a rubber spatula to scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl.
- Stop the mixer and replace the paddle with the whisk attachment. Whip on medium-high until the frosting is light and airy, at least 5 minutes. Use immediately, or scrape into a ziptop bag. The buttercream can be refrigerated for up to 2 weeks. Rewarm to room temperature in a double boiler or microwave and rewhip before using.
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