Best Birthday Cake Ever: Almond, Mascarpone, Lemon and Blueberries

25 Feb

This past Monday was my coworker’s birthday. Being a newbie around here, I’ve observed that the thing to do is to bake for your coworker’s birthday.

So I resolved to do just that. After a heated discussion with Jenna at Modern Domestic over what DC cupcakeries are really worth our time and money – and of course – a debate over their various frostings, I requested a suggestion for a not-to-sweet cake recipe for this very birthday occasion of which I am speaking.

Jenna sent me the Almond Birthday Cake with Lemon Curd, Blueberries and Mascarpone Frosting that she made for her mom’s birthday. Not only are her photos just absolutely stunning, the cake stood up to all of its promises. And as a new girl at work – let’s just say – thank goodness!!

Baking the cake was easy. I threw that batter into my new KitchenAid stand mixer and whipped it all up. Baked one cake at a time in the oven (because I was too cheap to buy two cake pans!), and cleared off some space on a cooling rack for those perfect little round cakes.

The only other cake I have really ever made from scratch is a 6 layer chocolate cake I found in Bon Appetit magazine which is rather easy to make but yet, rather involved. Plus, I can only make that once a year it’s so darn rich and delicious. (Guess that recipe will need to come soon – it’s been about a year!)

Back to my cake, I gleefully spread a jar of lemon curd on to a side of each of the cakes. That was easy. Then laying down the blueberries was almost meditative, or like laying down a mosaic. You see, I had to put the big fat blueberries in the middle of the cake – to account for one half of the cake dropping a little in the middle (my larger muffin-top-esque one of the two) – and then the littlest berries out around the edges.

A quick flip of the top, and we were ready to ice.

Jenna mentioned she struggled a little with the consistency of the whipped topping, so after a little researching, I took the advice of Martha.  I used a different Mascarpone Frosting recipe, which called for the initial separation of the whipped cream and the sugar-whipped mascarpone. My first attempt at whipping the cream was grainy and looked like it has just been aerated out of a can. So, I started again.

Now, apparently I was so entrenched in getting the right consistency for my whipping cream, that I missed an entire fire drill in my building. (I still need to speak with the management about this, because I’m pretty sure whipping up cream should not be louder than the fire alarm.) But I hovered right over that whipping cream until soft peaks formed and then reserved it, switching out the cream in the bowl for the mascarpone and powdered sugar. I combined the two and prepared for icing.

Since I’d flubbed the first half of my frosting, I only had half of what Jenna used, but it turned out to cover the cake just fine. With a little lemon curd “piping” on top – that effect you see there is caused by poor piping technique in fact… – and a few whimsically placed blueberries, I was darn proud of my cake.

Now if I only had a cake carrier. Why am I always so unprepared? My usual glass-mixing-bowl-over-the-top technique failed (cake is too tall), however it did create nicely smoothed corners!

So, Steve drove me to work at 10 p.m. on a Sunday night so I could safely drop my cake off in the fridge.

The next morning, I looked at the cake and it was starting to show signs of mini-earthquakes. The frosting had dried and was cracking along the edges.

Well, the good news is, no one seemed to mind. The little mini-earthquakes continued until we ate the whole darn thing. I wanted the cake to be pretty, but at the end of the day, I really just wanted it to be delicious, and it was.

The cake itself – because of the refrigeration – took on a pound-cake-like consistency. Lemon on top of pound cake = good, with blueberries = even better, with CHEESY mascarpone frosting = heavenly.

Nothing in here was too sweet, it all was perfectly balanced. The fruit, cheese, and nuts, it would probably all be nice piled up on a cracker, which is exactly how I prefer dessert time – salty. It was even a little crunchy since I ground my toasted almonds up in the Cuisinart.

So, for those of you looking for a change from the overdone, overkill-sweet cupcakes and cakes we see now, this one is just perfectly majestic and beautiful for a special occasion without making you reach for your insulin.

Thanks, Jenna, for a great recommendation. Can’t wait to see what you have for me next!


3 Responses to “Best Birthday Cake Ever: Almond, Mascarpone, Lemon and Blueberries”

  1. Kristen February 26, 2010 at 4:36 pm #

    Wish I was one of your co-workers! The cake sounds amazing!

  2. Kyle March 1, 2010 at 4:07 pm #

    I had to watch (and smell) this being made and wasnt even allowed to try it. Sigh…


  1. Weekly Roundup: Flattered Edition « ModernDomestic - February 26, 2010

    […] thrills I can possibly get as a blogger. So I was really thrilled when Cathy of We Love DC and Constantly Cathy hit me up for birthday cake recommendations this week. She finally decided to make the almond cake […]

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