This Blueberry Cake looks completely unassuming until you pull a slice out … and eyes go wide at the sight of the layers dotted with vibrant pops of blueberries, sandwiched together with the creamy Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting …
Just wait until you taste it! It’s ridiculously good!
When time is short, we make a quick, wooden spoon-mixed Lemon Blueberry Yogurt Cake.
But when you want to bake a cake to impress, we make THIS Blueberry Cake!
It is a complete and utter celebration of blueberries, bundled up in a combination that can’t be beat: A lemon-infused plush cake adapted from this Vanilla Cake, which in itself has amassed a loyal following from all around the world. Juicy pops of blueberry littered throughout. And that fluffy creamy Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting …
Words fail me. It’s just to-die-for!!
What you need for blueberry cake
Here’s what you need for the cake batter:
Sour cream – The Vanilla Cake batter uses milk, which makes a thin batter so the blueberries would sink to the base. By switching milk with sour cream, the batter becomes thick enough to suspend blueberries throughout whilst still achieving the same velvety, fluffy crumb;
Flour – Just plain/all-purpose flour works better here than cake flour. However, if you can only get cake flour, that works just fine. The only difference is that the cake surface becomes tacky the next day (not really a big deal in this frosted cake);
Sugar – Superfine / caster sugar is best as it dissolves more readily. But ordinary granulated white sugar is fine too. Please do not attempt to substitute with brown sugar or any sugar substitutes;
Butter – Unsalted, the default for baking;
Eggs – Fresher is better, and at room temperature. Fresh eggs fluff better, and fridge-cold eggs take longer to fluff to the same volume. If you don’t know how, here’s how to check how fresh your eggs are;
Baking powder – For lifting power. If you don’t use yours regularly, make sure sure it’s still good. Inactive baking powder is a common hidden culprit of cake fails;
Vanilla – For flavour;
Salt – Just a little brings out the flavours of everything else in the cake; and
Oil – For a touch of extra moisture but more importantly, it keeps the cake fresh for 5 days. Any neutral flavoured oil works fine here – vegetable, canola, peanut etc.
For the add-ins:
Blueberries – Tossing in a tiny bit of flour helps ensure that the blueberries remain suspended in the cake batter as it cooks; and
Lemons – We use the zest in the cake, and the juice in the frosting.
Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting
Here’s what you need for the cream cheese frosting.
Icing sugar – Called powdered sugar in America. Heads up Australia: be sure to use soft icing sugar not pure icing sugar. The latter is used for icing intended to be firm, such as Royal Icing used to decorate Gingerbread Men. We don’t want that here!
Cream cheese – It must be the brick form which is intended for cooking purposes, not the softer spreadable type that comes in tubs.
The recipe calls for it to be at room temperature which is around 17°C/63°F for baking purposes. This is necessary so it blends with the butter easily.
But don’t let it get too soft. Cream cheese is already softer than butter, so if it gets too soft, you’ll end up with a sloppy frosting. If this happens to you, you can just fix it by refrigerating the bowl for 30 minutes, then beating again to fluff it up.
Note: There’s a slightly higher ratio of cream cheese in this than what I use for my Carrot Cake Frosting because the lemon juice thins it out, and also I want it to have a touch more structure so it doesn’t ooze out when you cut the cake.
How to make Blueberry Cake
The batter for this cake is based on my Vanilla Cake in which I already provided comprehensive process steps and The Why for. Rather than repeating it all, I’ll focus on the essentials relevant to this particular cake.
But to briefly recap the key points of Vanilla Cake: This method is safer than the usual “cream butter and sugar” cakes, and yields a plush, velvety, professional bakery-style crumb. And it stays 100% fresh for 5 days!
1. Toss blueberries with a little flour. This will help ensure they stay suspended throughout the cake as it bakes. We also set aside some blueberries to scatter across the top for decoration;
2. Beat eggs & sugar for 7 minutes until tripled in volume. This is the secret to the beautifully light, plush texture of the cake!
3. Add dry ingredients – Whisk the dry cake ingredients in a bowl (ie. flour, baking powder, salt). Add the dry Ingredients in 3 batches to whipped egg mix, mixing on Speed 1 for 5 seconds after each addition. Stop as soon as most of the flour is mixed in;
4. Sour cream mixture – Whisk sour cream, hot butter, oil, vanilla and lemon zest in your now-empty flour bowl. The mixture will be quite thick, and you will see little lumps which is the zest;
5. Lighten the sour cream mixture – Add some of the egg batter into the sour cream mixture. The purpose of this step is to lighten the sour cream mixture before combining it with the batter so it is incorporated more easily. The batter is beautifully aerated and this technique thus helps preserve all those air bubbles we created in Step 2.
6. Mix on low speed until just combined – we don’t want to knock out all those air bubbles we created, remember!
7. Blueberries – Stir through the flour-coated blueberries;
8. Cakes pans – Divide the batter between the cake pans, smooth the surface, then scatter with reserved non flour-coated blueberries. These end up sinking while cooking to just below the surface of the cake. This in turn helps with a more even distribution of the blueberries (figured out yet that I’m kinda fussy? 😂);
9. Bake for 24 minutes, then cool upside down on a rack. Why upside down? Because it will flatten out any slight doming on the upper surface so there’s no need to trim to make the cakes level.
You’ll know straightaway when you touch the cake that it’s a very special cake because you can feel how plush and velvety it is even on the surface.
Be sure to let it cool fully before frosting, otherwise it will melt your frosting!
How to make Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting
The key to a fluffy cream cheese frosting is to beat, beat, beat!
To make the frosting, cream the butter first. Add the cream cheese and whip, then add the icing sugar/powdered sugar and beat for 3 minutes until it’s fluffy.
Add a pinch of salt, vanilla and lemon juice at the end, and beat again just to mix through. Spread on each layer of the cake, the top and the sides. We’re all in for this one!
Troubleshooting: Sloppy cream cheese frosting?
Butter-based frostings can get sloppy when worked in hot ambient temperatures (ie Aussie summer!). It’s easy to fix: just refrigerate the frosting in the bowl for 30 minutes, then beat again just before use.
Also, if at any point while frosting the cake it gets too runny, just refrigerate the whole cake for 15 minutes and keep going.
I’ve made this cake as a 3-layer cake because . well, speaking frankly, this isn’t a 10 minute, one-bowl cake. So if I’m making the effort to make it, I want to go all out. And, more layers = higher ratio of frosting to cake.
But it can be made as a 2-layer cake, or 2 x single layered individual cakes, or one large rectangular cake.
To ensure success …
Firstly, I want to highlight that this recipe was developed with all sorts of safety measures in place so it’s as fail-safe as it can be. It is much more reliable than typical cake recipes that start with “cream butter and sugar”, and the results are far better.
Secondly, 6 years of baking questions from readers has given me invaluable insight into the most common causes of issues with baking! So here are my top tips to ensure success:
Read the recipe from start to finish, and watch the video;
Work in the order of steps as written;
Baking powder – Make sure it’s still active; it can lose rising power even before the expiry date;
Eggs – Make sure they are fresh and at room temperature, as they fluff better than fridge cold and old eggs. Here’s how to test how fresh your eggs are. Fresh is best, but 1 week old is ok too. However older eggs rise marginally less. I recommend not using anything >2 weeks old;
Preheat your oven for 20 minutes before starting – This ensures heat retention when opening to put cakes in; and
Once you start making the batter, do not stop until it’s in the oven. Aeration via bubbles by beating eggs and the baking powder reacting can lose rising power. So do not take a call from your chatty Aunt Marge until it’s in the oven – let her go to voicemail!!
You’ve got this. And just imagine the gasps of delight when you pull out that first slice … because it happens, every time!! – Nagi x
Watch how to make it
Blueberry Cake with Lemon Frosting
- 2 cups flour , plain / all purpose (Note 1)
- 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder (make sure its still good)
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 4 large eggs (50-55g / 2oz each), at room temp (Note 2)
- 1 1/2 cups sugar , caster / superfine (Note 3)
- 115g / 1/2 cup unsalted butter , melted & HOT
- 1 cup sour cream , full fat, at room temperature (Note 5)
- 3 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 tsp vegetable or canola oil (Note 6)
- 3 tsp lemon zest
- 375g / 2 1/2 cups blueberries (Note 7 for frozen)
- 2 tsp flour
Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting
- 225g / 2 sticks unsalted butter , at room temperature
- 250g / 8oz cream cheese , brick not tub, at room temperature but not too soft (Note 8, esp UK)
- 4 cups soft icing sugar / powdered sugar , SIFTED
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- Pinch of salt
- Extra blueberries, lemon slices, edible flowers
- Preheat oven: Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F (160°C fan) for 20 minutes before starting the batter. Place one shelf in the middle of the oven and a second beneath it.
- Cake pans: Grease 3 x 20cm / 8” cake pans with butter and line with parchment / baking paper. (Note 9 more pan sizes)
- Blueberries: Set aside ~1/3 of the blueberries (for scattering later). Toss the remaining blueberries in flour.
- Be prepared: Have all batter ingredients measured out and ready to add in. New to baking? Read 'Tips for Success' above recipe card.
- Combine dry ingredients: Whisk flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Set aside.
- Whisk eggs: Beat eggs for 30 seconds on speed 6 of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, or hand beater.
- Add sugar, then beat: With the beater still going, pour the sugar in over 45 seconds. Then beat for 7 minutes on speed 8, or until tripled in volume and white.
- Gently add flour: Scatter 1/3 flour across surface of whipped eggs, then beat on Speed 1 for 5 seconds. Add half remaining flour, mix on Speed 1 for 5 sec. Add remaining flour, then mix on Speed 1 for 5 – 10 sec until the flour is just mixed in. Once you can’t see flour, stop straight away.
- Whisk wet ingredients: Put sour cream, hot butter, oil, vanilla and lemon zest into the now-empty flour bowl. Whisk well until smooth.
- 'Temper' sour cream mix: Add about 1 1/2 cups of the egg mixture into the sour cream bowl (2 big scoops, no need to be accurate). Whisk well until smooth.
- Slowly combine sour cream mix and egg mix: Turn beater back on Speed 1 then scrape the sour cream mixture into the egg mixture over 15 seconds, then turn beater off.
- Scrape and final mix: Scrape down sides and base of bowl. Beat on Speed 1 for 10 seconds. The batter should be thick but soft, not runny and thin.
- Blueberries: Quickly but gently fold in flour coated blueberries.
- Divide batter between cake pans, smooth the surface. Scatter over reserved blueberries.
- Bake 25 minutes or until golden and toothpick inserted into centre comes out clean. (If you cannot fit all pans on one shelf, put 2 pans in the middle shelf and 1 pan underneath. Take the top pans out at 25 minutes, move the lower pan to middle shelf and bake for a further 3 minutes)
Cool & frost:
- Once out of oven, cool in cake pans for 15 minutes, then gently turn out onto cooling racks upside down. Peel off baking paper and cool upside down – any slight dome will flatten perfectly (for neat layers).
- Frost upside down layers with Cream Cheese Frosting! Decorate with extra blueberries, lemon slices and edible flowers, if desired.
Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting:
- Beat butter with whisk attachment in stand mixer for 2 minutes until fluffy and creamy, and it becomes a paler colour. Add cream cheese, then beat for 30 seconds just until smooth.
- Add icing sugar / powdered sugar, then gently mix on speed 1 (to avoid an icing powder storm). If you do get a powder storm, cover with tea towel, then once mostly incorporated, beat on high for a full 2 minutes on Speed 7.
- Add vanilla and lemon juice, then beat for a further 30 seconds. Use immediately. (Note 11 re: frosting too sloppy)
1. Cake flour works just fine with this recipe as well. 2. Eggs – Fresh eggs are best as they whip better. Here’s how to check how fresh your eggs are. 1 week old are ok; 2+ weeks not recommended. It’s important eggs are at room temp as they fluff better when whipped, which is key to the fluffy texture of this cake. Quick way to warm up fridge-cold eggs: Place in a large bowl, cover with warm tap water (just warm, not hot), leave for 5 minutes. Wipe dry (to avoid residual water dripping into bowl), then use per recipe. Large eggs – 50 – 55g / 2 oz per egg is the industry standard of sizes sold as “large eggs” in Australia and the US. If your eggs are significantly larger or smaller in size, just weigh different eggs and use 200 – 220g / 8 oz in total (including shell) or 180 – 200g / 7.3 oz in total excluding shell (this is useful if you need to use a partial egg to make up the total required weight. Crack eggs, beat, THEN pour into a bowl to measure out what you need). 3. Caster / superfine sugar has finer grains so it dissolves easily when whipped with the eggs. However, granulated / regular white sugar works fine too. 4. Baking powder – Dead baking powder is a common cause of cake failure. Here’s how to check if it’s still active. Baking soda (bicarb) won’t make the cake rise quite as well. If you have no choice, then use 3/4 teaspoons of baking soda. 5. Sour cream – The base Vanilla Cake recipe uses milk which makes the batter thin, and blueberries sink to the base. By switching with sour cream, the batter becomes thick enough to suspend blueberries throughout. To bring sour cream to room temperature, measure out then leave out for 30 minutes or so – it just needs to not be fridge-cold. Do not substitute for low-fat, it’s not as thick. 6. Oil – Just 3 teaspoons makes a noticeable difference to the tenderness of the crumb AND keeps the crumb moist for days. 7. Blueberries – If using frozen, do not thaw as it will leave unsightly streaks in the batter. Measure out, toss with flour, and return to freezer until required. Add 1 minute to bake time. 8. Cream cheese – It must be brick form which is firmer than cream cheese in tubs intended for spreading. UK cream cheese has a lower fat %, comes in tubs and is the spreadable kind, so it’s softer than brick form. Use Original Philadelphia cream cheese but start with 125g instead of the 250g called for in the recipe. Take cream cheese of fridge to take the chill out, but don’t let it become so warm that it’s sloppy. After beating, if your frosting consistency is soft / fluffy but still holds its shape, add more (for more cream cheese flavour). Also, ensure your butter is softened but NOT super soft, that will also help (16-17°C, to be exact). If frosting is too runny, just refrigerate for 30 min and it will firm up. Then beat to fluff, and spread. SOFTENING NOTE: These days, Philadelphia cream cheese is softer than it used to be straight out of the fridge. So don’t leave it out for too long otherwise it will go too soft and you’ll end up with a sloppy frosting. We just want to take the chill out of it. Hot summer day? Leave it in a cool room. 9. Icing sugar – For Australia, be sure to get SOFT icing sugar not pure icing sugar. Pure icing sugar is used for hard-set icing like Royal Icing. The frosting will not be as creamy and will form an unpleasant hard crust on the surface 10. Different cake pan size bake times:
- 2 x 20cm / 8″ cake pans- bake 38 min
- 2 x 23 cm / 9″ cake pans – 33 min*
- 3 x 23 cm / 9″ cake pans – 26 min*
- 23cm x 33 cm / 13″ x 9″ rectangular cake – 35 minutes*
Life of Dozer
Because he didn’t get any real blueberries, he had to make do with a giant blueberry toy. Though try as he might, he couldn’t hold it in his mouth!