1990s Recipes + Menus

Lemon Blackberry Wedding Cake

  • Active time:6 hr
  • Start to finish:1 day (includes chilling)
September 1999
If you want to make a wedding cake but are intimidated, this is the cake for you. The layers—from a pound cake batter with milk added—are very sturdy and forgiving, even when split. The cream cheese frosting couldn’t be easier. And yet the result, layered with blackberries and garnished, perhaps with roses, couldn’t be more of showpiece, or more delicious. Although the thought of freezing your creation may be alarming, it’s infinitely better to freeze the layers than to run the risk of having them dry out at room temperature. You will need a base for the assembled cake: this can be anything from a very large platter to a piece of wood covered with tulle.

For each batch of batter (you will need to make two)

  • 12 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 6 cups cake flour (not self-rising)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 6 sticks (1 1/2 pounds) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 cups sugar

For assembly

  • Garnish:

    blackberries and (optional) petals from 3 large organic, nontoxic roses
  • Special equipment:

    one 12- by 2-inch round cake pan; one 9- by 2-inch round cake pan; one 6- by 2-inch round cake pan; 2 packages Magi-Cake or homemade foil strips; a 5-quart standing electric mixer; a 12-inch serrated knife; four 11-inch cardboard cake rounds, four 8-inch cardboard cake rounds, and four 6-inch cardboard cake rounds, trimmed to 5-inch rounds; a cake base (preferably a cake-decorating turntable) or large platter; five 8-inch plastic straws; a medium-size pastry bag fitted with 3/16-inch plain tip

Make the cake layers:

  • Put racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 350F. Grease cake pans and line bottom of each with a round of parchment or wax paper. Grease paper and dust pans with flour, knocking out excess. Wet Magi-Cake strips and fasten around pans or attach homemade foil strips.
  • Whisk together eggs, milk, and vanilla in a medium bowl. Whisk together flour and salt in another bowl.
  • Beat together butter and sugar in bowl of stand mixer at medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Reduce speed to low and add flour and egg mixtures alternately in 3 batches, ending with egg mixture and mixing until just incorporated.
  • Divide batter among pans, filling each one to 1 inch from top. Put 12-inch pan on upper rack and other pans on lower rack 20 minutes. (If you have a wall oven or other small oven, see Cooks’ Note.) Gently turn pans around and bake until a wooden pick or skewer inserted in center of cakes comes out of each with a few crumbs adhering, 10 to 20 minutes more, depending on cake size. Transfer each one as done to a rack to cool.
  • Cool layers slightly (9-inch and 6-inch layers for 10 minutes; 12-inch layer for 20 minutes), then invert onto racks. Peel off paper, turn cakes right side up, and cool completely.
  • Clean pans. Make second batch of batter; bake and cool cakes in same manner.

Assemble the cake layers:

  • Start with 12-inch cakes. If necessary, trim top of each with long serrated knife to make it level, then cut horizontally in half. Put each layer cut side up on an 11-inch cardboard round. Brush tops generously with syrup. Stir jam until smooth, then spread about 2/3 cup on one layer. Invert another layer (on cardboard) onto jam. Discard top cardboard round and spread about 2 1/2 cups frosting on top of layer. Scatter a layer of blackberries over to cover frosting. (If berries are 1 inch or larger, first halve them lengthwise.) Slide the third 12-inch layer, syrup side up, onto berries (discard cardboard) and press down gently. Spread about 2/3 cup jam on layer and invert last 12-inch layer (on cardboard) onto jam, discard cardboard.
  • Spoon 2 cups frosting onto top of 12-inch tier and cover cake with a thin coating. (This is called a crumb-coating.) Refrigerate tier while you work on remaining tiers.
  • Trim and halve 9-inch cakes similarly and put on 8-inch cardboard rounds. Brush cut sides generously with syrup. Assemble and crumb-coat 9-inch tier in same manner using about 1/3 cup jam, 1 1/4 cups frosting, and more berries between layers, then crumb-coat with about 1 1/2 cups frosting. Refrigerate.
  • Repeat procedure to make 6-inch tier using about 2 1/2 tablespoons jam, about 3/4 cup frosting, and more berries between layers, then crumb-coat with about 3/4 cup frosting). Refrigerate until frosting is firm.
  • Reserve 2 cups frosting for piping. Place 12-inch tier on cake base and frost top and sides. Frost remaining tiers. Refrigerate frosted tiers (do not stack) for at least 4 hours. If you won’t be able to fit the assembled cake on its base into your refrigerator, stop here up to 1 day before assembling cake; cover each tier loosely with plastic wrap.

Assemble the cake tiers:

  • Cut 3 straws in half . Insert 1 piece in center of 12-inch tier, all the way to bottom. Insert remaining pieces in a circle about 1 1/2 inches from center straw and trim straws level with top tier. (Straws will support tiers.) Carefully put 9-inch tier (still on cardboard) in center of bottom tier. Cut remaining 2 straws in half and insert into middle tier in similar manner, with 1 piece in center and remaining pieces in a circle around it. Carefully put 6-inch tier (still on cardboard) in center of middle tier.
  • Fill in any gaps between tiers and any imperfections with some of reserved frosting and transfer remainder to pastry bag. Pipe a decorative border around the bottom edge of each tier. Reserve remaining frosting for touch-ups if needed.
  • Bring cake to room temperature before serving; it can stand at cool room temperature about 6 hours. Garnish cake with rose petals, if desired, and serve slices with blackberries.
Cooks’ notes:
  • The cake layers can be baked up to 1 month ahead and frozen, well wrapped in foil and sealed in plastic bags. Thaw, still wrapped, overnight at room temperature before assembling the cake.
  • The frosted tiers can be refrigerated for up to 24 hours.
  • Wall ovens tend to be small (ours are about 19 inches wide, 15 inches high, and 17 1/2 inches deep). When using them, we found that the cakes cooked more evenly when we first baked the 12-inch cake alone on the middle rack, then baked the 6-inch and 9-inch layers together on the middle rack. If you do this, fill all the pans at the same time but leave the two smaller layers at room temperature while you bake the 12-inch one.
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