I’ve made this recipe three times and declared each one a winner; a light, creamy cake with a burst of lemon and blueberry goodness. The first time I baked it for Easter, and the following two times for birthday celebrations. You can make it any season of the year by substituting frozen blueberries for fresh.
For a tall and impressive presentation, I divide the batter between three pans to make a three-layered cake. However, you can use two larger pans and adjust the baking time.
The most significant difference in preparation, at least for me, involves the reverse creaming method. You don’t cream the butter and sugar to start. Instead, you begin by adding softened butter one tablespoon at a time into the flour mixture. It looks like sand or pie dough before the liquid is added. The reasoning behind this method is to ensure the butter gets evenly dispersed throughout the batter.
What is the Reverse Creaming Method?
Making a cake using the reverse creaming method begins with mixing softened butter into the dry ingredients instead of creaming the butter and sugar.
History of the Reverse Creaming Method
I was introduced to this method by Rose Levy Beranbaum, author of “The Cake Bible”, written in 1988; though I did not buy it that early, it’s a favorite of mine and certainly NOT out of date.
When she wrote the book, the term reverse creaming had not come into use. Rose developed the process using butter, not shortening, as was standard at the time. She wanted to make a cake with the velvety texture of boxed cake but with the flavor of from-scratch cake.”
She mixed softened butter into the dry ingredients to make her butter cakes with an electric mixer. And then a little of the recipe’s liquid before adding the wet liquid and eggs to make a batter.
How does reverse creaming improve a cake?
According to the Cake Bible and Rose, “The method is faster, easier, and better,” and “It has no downside.” And I agree. It is easy. The best part, Rose says, “it virtually eliminates any possibility of toughening the cake by overbeating.”
More specifically, “not only does it emulsify better and have a more even texture,” Rose explains, “but it’s more tender.”
This method limits gluten development by coating the recipe’s flour with butter. Too much gluten development can make cakes tough, so this buttery coating prevents that from occurring.
Lemon Blueberry Layer Cake Recipe
The recipe for the Lemon Blueberry Cake comes from the blog: Sugar Spun Run by Sam or Samantha. I have copied her recipe only changing the wording in the directions slightly.½ cups granulated sugar
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon table salt
½ cup unsalted butter softened and cut into 8 pieces
½ cup canola or vegetable oil
¾ cup buttermilk
2 Tablespoons lemon zest (zest before squeezing)
¼ cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice
4 large eggs at room temperature
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
2 ½ cups blueberries (fresh or frozen-unthawed)
- Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and flour three 8” round cake pans. If you want to ensure the cake fully releases from the bottom of the pan, line the bottoms with parchment paper. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- Using an electric mixer, add softened butter, one tablespoon at a time, adding the next tablespoon only after the first is combined. The mixture will appear sandy in texture. (This is the reverse creaming method)
- While mixing on low-speed, slowly drizzle in oil.
- In a separate bowl or large measuring cup, whisk together buttermilk, lemon zest, lemon juice, eggs, and vanilla extract until combined.
- With mixer on low-speed, slowly drizzle in the buttermilk mixture into the batter until it is smooth and completely combined.
- Use a spatula to stir in blueberries. Don’t worry that the batter is thick, that means the blueberries won’t sink to the bottom.
- Evenly divide batter into prepared cake pans and transfer to 350F oven Bake for 30 minutes or until the surface of the cake springs back to the touch and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean.
- Allow cakes to cool in cake pans for 10-15 minutes before running a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen cakes. Carefully invert each cake onto a cooling rack.
- Once cooled completely, decorate the cake with frosting.
I’ve made cream cheese frosting and lemon frosting. Both are excellent, but I suggest the lemon if you like citrus flavors.
Cream Cheese Frosting
- 8 ounces full-fat brick style cream cheese, softened to room temperature
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 3 1/2 cups – 4 cups confectioner’s sugar
- 1 – 2 Tablespoons cream or full-fat milk
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- pinch salt
Instructions for Frosting
Using a handheld or stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat cream cheese and butter together on medium speed until no lumps remain, about 3 full minutes.
Add confectioners’ sugar, just 1 Tablespoon cream, vanilla extract, and salt with the mixer running on low.
Turn mixer to high speed and beat for 3 minutes. Add 1 more Tablespoon of cream to thin out, if desired.
Place 1 layer on your cake stand. Evenly cover the top with cream cheese frosting. Top with 2nd layer, more frosting, then the third layer. Top with frosting and spread around the sides. Decorate with blueberries or lemon garnish if desired. Refrigerate for at least 45 minutes before cutting.
Cover and store leftover cake in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
To make Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting I use the above recipe, substituting about ¼ fresh lemon juice for the milk and adding 1 Tablespoon lemon zest. You will need to add more confectioner’s sugar to get to the right consistency.
Best if made one day ahead.
Freezing: Frosted or unfrosted cakes may be frozen up to 2 months, thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before serving.
Flour: I sifted the flour as I measured it.
Cream Cheese: Use brick-style cream cheese, not cream cheese spread.
Cream: Heavy cream is preferred but milk works in a pinch!