Mississippi Blueberry-Lemon Cake
My cousins in Seminary, Mississippi have blueberry fields and one of the highlights of late spring, early summer is going to Mississippi and picking bushels of blueberries and deciding what to make of them.
If you've never paired blueberries with lemon before, you're in for a real treat. These two flavors are simply a match made in heaven, and they come together in perfect harmony in this Mississippi Blueberry-Lemon Cake.
The fruit's sweet, floral flavor pairs well with tart and tangy lemons and buttermilk—both of which star in these tender cake layers. The cake layers are perfumed with a subtle hint of lemon, and the frosting is light and fluffy with more intense lemon notes. Tossing the blueberries with a little flour and gently folding them into the batter prevents them from sinking to the bottom of the pans when baking. Pureed berries give the frosting its naturally beautiful hue. You'll have about 1/4 cup of puree left over; stir it into smoothies or yogurt.
If you're new to decorating layer cakes, don't worry—this cake doesn't require much fuss. A simple garnish of fresh blueberries goes a long way (if you're feeling fancy, feel free to add some candied lemon peels). No time to put together an entire layer cake, but still want a dessert that will impress? This recipe would also make great cupcakes.
Vegetable shortening, for greasing pans
1 cup butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
3 cups plus 1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour, divided, plus more for pans
1 ¼ cups whole buttermilk
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest plus ¼ cup fresh juice (from 2 medium lemons)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 ½ cups fresh blueberries (from 2 [6-oz.] containers)
1 cup fresh blueberries (from 1 [6-oz.] container), plus more for garnish
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest, plus 3 Tbsp. fresh juice, divided (from 2 lemons)
1 cup butter, softened
1 (32-oz.) pkg. powdered sugar
Prepare the Cake Layers: Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease (with shortening) and flour 3 (8-inch) round cake pans, and set aside. Beat butter with a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment on medium speed until creamy, about 1 minute. Gradually add sugar, beating until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until blended after each addition.
Whisk together baking powder, salt, baking soda, and 3 cups of the flour in a medium bowl until well blended. With mixer running on low speed, gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture, alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture, beating until blended after each addition. Stir in lemon zest, lemon juice, and vanilla. Toss together blueberries and remaining 1 tablespoon flour in a small bowl; gently fold blueberry mixture into batter. Spoon batter into prepared pans.
Bake in preheated oven until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, 23 to 25 minutes. Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely, about 1 hour.
Meanwhile, prepare the Frosting: Process blueberries and lemon juice in a blender or food processor until completely smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Beat butter and lemon zest with a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment on medium speed until creamy, 1 to 2 minutes. With mixer running on low speed, gradually add powdered sugar, alternately with blueberry mixture, beating until blended after each addition. Increase speed to medium; beat until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. If desired, reserve 1 cup Frosting; place in a piping bag fitted with a star tip.
Place 1 Cake Layer on a platter or cake stand. Spread 1 cup Frosting over top. Add a second Cake Layer; spread top with 1 cup Frosting. Top with third layer; frost top and sides of cake with remaining Frosting. If desired, pipe reserved Frosting around outer edge of cake. Garnish with blueberries.
Florida blueberries are a little less exciting but no less sweet. In Florida sands and due to our normal dry season (November - May) the blueberries do not attain the size of juiciness of Mississippi berries. Photos of my Florida blueberry bushes below.
There are eight or more different wild blueberry species that occur in Florida. They can generally be divided into two main varieties: rabbiteye blueberries (Vaccinium ashei) and Southern Highbush blueberries (Vaccinium corymbosum).