Saturday was the first time we’ve had truly nice weather in Boston all year. The temperatures were in the low 60s, the sun was out in full force, and the skies were bright blue. Some people took advantage of the spring weather and went running along the river. Others watched the Red Sox lose to the Yankees at Fenway Park. I spent the day dressed as a leopard, complete with ears, tail, and collar (with bells!).
I could tell you that I do this every weekend, but sadly my life is not that exciting or strange. It was my friend Angela’s circus-themed bachelorette party, and she was the ringmaster while the rest of us were circus animals. Our menagerie consisted of several leopards, panthers, a zebra, a tiger, and a truly amazing furry bear wearing a wig. To say that we drew attention is an understatement. When a fireman honks and turns around to wave while sirens are blaring and his truck is racing to an emergency, you know you’re doing something right.
Initially, I was going to make a circus-themed treat. But I woke up that morning and couldn’t get a berry cake I’d read about months earlier out of my mind. This cake was perfect, almost necessary, for the first spring-like day after a long winter of snowstorms. It seemed bright and hopeful which, all raunchy partying aside, is what I wish for my friend as she embarks on a new beginning. And so I presented my ringmaster bride with a triple berry cake filled and frosted with a fluffy vanilla buttercream. The circus animals devoured it.
Triple Berry Cake with Vanilla Buttercream
Adapted from Joy the Baker
Triple Berry Cake
1 cup (2 sticks) butter at room temperature
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped out
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt (omit if using salted butter)
1/2 to 1 cup blueberries, depending on personal taste
Additional blueberries, raspberries, and/or blackberries for filling and garnish
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour two 9-inch round baking pans and set aside.
In a bowl whisk together flour baking powder and salt. Set aside.
In a separate small bowl combine the milk, vanilla extract and vanilla seeds.
Using a stand mixer or hand-held mixer, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy (about 3-5 minutes), scraping the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating for one minute after each addition.
With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture and the milk mixture in three alternate batches, starting and ending with the flour mixture (i.e. flour-milk-flour-milk-flour). When the batter is just combined, shut off the mixer and thoroughly incorporate the dough with a rubber spatula.
Divide the batter between the two pans. Sprinkle with blueberries and lightly press into batter – not so much that they’re submerged, but just so that they’re embedded.
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until cake is a pale golden color and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
Cool cakes in the pan for 15 minutes before inverting onto a wire rack to finish cooling. Frost and assemble cake only when completely cool.
1 cup (2 sticks) sticks butter at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup whole milk, divided
1/4 cup sifted flour
2 1/2 tablespoons vanilla extract
Using a stand mixer or hand-held mixer, cream the butter on medium speed until soft, about 30 seconds. Add the sugar and beat on high speed until light and fluffy, 5 to 7 minutes. Stop the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
In a small saucepan, combine 1/4 cup milk with the flour and vanilla extract. Whisk together until there are no lumps. Over medium heat, slowly add the remaining 3/4 cups milk, whisking constantly until mixture starts to thicken slightly. If mixture comes to a boil, reduce heat to low.
When the mixture starts to thicken, immediately remove the pan from the heat but keep stirring. The mixture will continue to cook for a minute or two on its own.
If you overheat the mixture and find that it is lumpy, try to whisk them out or pass the mixture through a fine mesh strainer. Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature. Place the mixture in the freezer for a minute or two to speed up the process.
With the mixer on low speed, slowly pour the milk mixture into the butter and sugar mixture. Increase speed to medium and beat until frosting is light and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes.
How to assemble the cake: Spread a layer of frosting on one cake. Top with blueberries, blackberries, and/or raspberries. Place second cake on top. Frost and garnish with additional berries.