Note – this is a slightly-simplified layer cake recipe from ChelSweets.com – I highly recommend checking out her site if you haven’t before; it’s amazing!!
3 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 cup granulated sugar
2 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter (or 2 sticks) room temperature
2 teaspoons almond extract
1 1/2 cups buttermilk, room temperature (or buttermilk powder with water is an option if you can’t find liquid buttermilk at your grocery store!)
1/8 cup (28 grams) vegetable oil
1 cup chopped blackberries (fresh or frozen; I used frozen)
¾ cup sliced almonds
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line four 7 inch pans (for taller layers) or three 8-inch cake pans with parchment rounds, and /or grease with non-stick or baker’s floured cooking spray.
Mix together all dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt) in a stand mixer with a paddle until fully combined.
Mix chunks of room-temperature butter slowly into the dry mix, on a low speed. Continue to mix until no large chunks of butter remain, and the mixture becomes crumbly.
Pour in eggs and mix on low until just incorporated. Mix in the buttermilk in two parts on low speed. Add in flavor and oil, and mix at a low speed until fully incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula, then beat on medium speed for about 30 seconds. Fold in blackberries and sliced almonds.
Divide batter evenly between the prepared cake pans (I find a kitchen scale helpful for this part). This guarantees your layers will bake to be the same height.
Bake for 35-37 minutes if using 8-inch pans, or 37-38 minutes for 7-inch cake pans (or until a toothpick comes out clean). Allow cake layers to cool for 10-15 minutes on a wire cooling rack before removing from pans – it helps to run an offset spatula or knife around the perimeter of the pan first. Cool completely before frosting. Set in the fridge or freezer to accelerate the cooling process if desired.
Once the layers have fully cooled, the caramelized bits can be trimmed from the sides / top of the cake using a serrated knife if desired. Be sure the layers are completely cooled or chilled before trimming. If you try to trim the layers while they’re still warm, they will crumble apart.
This is a great time to make your blackberry reduction and frosting!
3 ½ cups blackberries (fresh or frozen; I used frozen)
½ cup brown sugar
Place both ingredients in a medium saucepan over low heat. Stir for 2-3 minutes, pressing berries with the back of your spoon until they begin to soften and break down into a sauce. Continue to cook uncovered over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 50-60 minutes until reduction appears darker and thicker. Cool to room temperature before using. (Note: you can strain this reduction to remove the blackberry seeds; I find the process painful and time-consuming and don’t mind the texture of seeds in the filling or frosting. Up to you!)
Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting:
8 oz (one package) cream cheese, softened
16 Tablespoons (two sticks) butter, softened
6-7 cups powdered sugar
1 cup blackberry reduction (see above)
1-2 teaspoons milk (if needed)
1 teaspoon clear vanilla extract
1/4 t. salt (if using unsalted butter)
Beat together softened cream cheese and butter; slowly add in powdered sugar alternating with blackberry reduction until frosting reaches desired consistency. Add vanilla and salt if needed and beat until well combined.
– 1 8- or 10 -inch cardboard cake circle (I prefer Wilton’s center-punched circles) or an 8” acrylic cake disc (I started using these so I wouldn’t waste so many cake circles!)
– Large piping bag & tip – I use this set of reusable large bags & tips more than almost any of my others! A smaller bag with the Wilton 1M tip would work great as well.
– Remaining blackberry reduction (see above)
– Additional ¾ cup sliced almonds
– Cake leveler, cake turntable, large offset spatula, and pastry cutter/bench scraper – not all 100% necessary but incredibly helpful! (Here’s a link to the cake turntable I use)
– Textured cake comb (if you want to texture the frosting) – I used a comb from this set by Wilton!
– 4 oz white candy melts (I use the Wilton brand Bright White) + 2 Tablespoons heavy whipping cream (the brand I usually use comes from Costco and is incredibly thick; you may need a bit less depending on the thickness of your heavy cream!) + ½ teaspoon almond extract (for cake drip)
Once your cakes are cool, level them (if needed/desired). This can be done with a cake leveler or a large serrated knife and a ruler. Place a smear of frosting on your cake circle (to keep the cake from sliding while you decorate it) and center your first cake layer in the center of the circle. Spread the layer with frosting, and spread a layer of blackberry reduction over the frosting. Add the next layer on top.
Repeat the process with your remaining cake layers.
Now you’re ready to crumb-coat . If you’re unfamiliar with crumb-coating, it’s just what it sounds like – spreading a thin layer of frosting over the entire outside of the cake to keep crumbs out of your final layer. I usually do this with my large offset spatula.
Once your crumb coat has set (this takes about 5-10 minutes in the fridge), add your final layer of frosting and smooth. I like to start with an offset spatula and bench scraper for this part, and I textured the cake with this Wilton cake comb. Once your cake is covered, place it into the fridge or freezer to set the frosting.
This recipe is very similar to my white chocolate ganache recipe – you’re basically using candy melts instead of white chocolate to make a very similar drip ganache. Place heavy cream and candy melts in a microwave-safe bowl, and microwave on 50% power in 30-second intervals until smooth, stirring in between.
When your candy melt mix has cooled to a moderate temperature – it should feel slightly warm and still be fairly liquid – transfer it to a squeeze bottle or piping or small ziplock bag. A spoon will work if you don’t have either of those; I’ve just found spoons to be a little bit more difficult to work with.
Slowly drizzle ganache around the upper edge of your cake, pausing every inch or so to let more fall in a drip down the side of the cake. Cover the cake top with the remaining drip mix and smooth. Return cake to the fridge or freezer to set the drips.
Transfer your remaining frosting to a piping bag fitted with the tip of your choice, and add swirls of frosting around the upper edge of the cake. Sprinkle with a few more sliced almonds – and you’re done! Snap a picture, and serve and enjoy!