1. I’m back in the US for a couple weeks, which means my greatest concerns at the moment include: a) when is the plumber going to get here to fix the leak in the tub? b) When is that $19.99 oil change coupon going to come in the mail? and c) Jake. Shedding season. Vacuum. Blurg.
2. It’s Bill’s (i.e. my dad’s) birthday this week.
3. It was a day of baking-related triumph.
I had birthday cake on the brain today, since, as I mentioned earlier, my dad will be celebrating his this week. Before you lampoon me for being a bad daughter without a smidgeon of filial piety, let me tell you that he’s actually headed to the airport right now to fly to Seattle for a business trip, which really blows.
I mean, celebrating your big birthday 30,000 feet above Russia, nursing a lukewarm coffee and attempting to drown out the crying toddler in the seat behind you with the latest Thor installment does not a great birthday make.
But hopefully he’ll land and see this fantabulous Triple Layer Berry Cake we made, mind-eat it with extra imaginary whipped cream and pistachios, and then receive our appropriately-millennial digital birthday present, which we shall be sending via email in due course. These are the days of our lives.
But seriously, this cake is not only great for any birthday recipient with distinguished tastes and a love of antioxidants, but also for any upcoming Memorial Day festivities brewing in your neighborhood. You’ll KILL it at your next potluck with this thing. Everyone is going to look at you with either amazement, appreciation, or jealousy. Or even better: a combination of the three.
Start by making the cake. This is a three-layer situation–one that I’ve never tackled before. But it’s mega easy. You’ll see.
Preheat your oven to 350°F. Thoroughly grease and flour three 9-inch round pans. Emphasis on the thoroughly. I know flouring your pans seems like a fussy-sissy move. Just do it. You can also do the thing where you cut out a circle of parchment paper and lay it in the bottom of your pan. But greasing and flouring seems a lot easier now, don’t it?
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. In another large bowl, whisk together the sugar, yogurt, and lemon juice. Slowly whisk in the oil, followed by the eggs one at a time, and then the vanilla. You can also use an electric mixer for this of course, if you’re not an occasional Luddite like me.
Sift and fold in the dry mixture just until combined.
Distribute evenly in the pans (if you want to get a really even distribution, you can actually measure the batter into each pan. I actually did this, because I wanted to be really sure it was even) and bake until a toothpick comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Cool completely.
Assemble the cream: Combine the cream, sugar, lemon zest, and lemon juice in a large bowl and whip. Refrigerate.
Now, your berry compote: In a small saucepan over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1 tablespoon sugar, and 1 cup of berries. Simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, until almost jam-like. Refrigerate.
Here, I just used the strawberries and blueberries, since that was what I had the most of. You can use any combination you like. The rather expensive and precious raspberries and blackberries were reserved for cake topping duty only.
I also sliced the strawberries into quarters, so they would cook down faster.
Once the berries are coated in sugar and start to heat up, they’ll take on a nice sheen relatively quickly.
After about 30 minutes at a low simmer, uncovered, you should get a thick compote, like this:
Once everything is cooled completely, put it all together. Get your fruit and other toppings ready. Make sure to wash and dry your berries with a kitchen towel or paper towels before putting them on your cake. The pistachios add an awesome contrast in color here, but you can also try slivered almonds or something similar if that’s what you have on hand.
Put one layer of your cake onto a cake stand or plate.
Top with a third of the whipped cream…
A third of the berries…
A third of the compote…
And a sprinkle of pistachios and thyme leaves. I used lemon thyme, which was STILL alive in the backyard garden after all this time. It wasn’t just alive, it was thriving.
You could stop there, and it would still be a lovely dessert. I mean, whoa.
But we’re not going to stop there. Because we’re CRAZY. Repeat for the next two layers.
This is literally the most beautiful cake I’ve ever laid eyes on.
It will make all the other potluckers faint with pure envy. And it will make any birthday recipient–no matter how testosterone-laden–squeal like a six-year-old girl in an American Girl store.
Yes, berries are a bit pricey, but if you’re looking to impress, you can make this cake for about 15 bucks and get 100 bucks’ worth of “HOLY #$%@!” out of the ordeal. It’s really surprisingly easy to make.
I think that by the end of the day, I’d taken about 300 photos of this cake. I couldn’t stop looking at it.
Until we ate it. It was glorious.