Lemon Blueberry Cake

published Jul 2, 2024
summer
Lemon Blueberry Cake Recipe
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lemon blueberry cake on blue plate on surface
Credit: Photo: Erik Bernstein; Food Styling: Spencer Richards

Calling all fruit lovers! This showstopping lemon blueberry layer cake is for you. Loaded with juicy blueberries and lemon zest, it features a moist vanilla cake frosted with a whipped lemon-y buttercream. (As someone who usually skips eating the frosting on cake, I found myself licking the mixer’s beaters with this one.)

Once blueberry season is in full swing, grab a few containers just for this (here’s the best way to store any extra blueberries). Besides the berries and lemons, the remaining ingredients are pantry and refrigerator staples. It’s been a hit with everyone I’ve served it to. Happy baking!

Why You’ll Love It

  • This tender vanilla cake is full of plump blueberries and lemon zest. The lemon buttercream frosting is not-too-sweet and has a great whipped, light texture.
  • It works in a smart trick that ensures the blueberries won’t sink to the bottom. Adding a layer of plain batter to the cake pans first acts as a cushion, preventing any sinkage. So you can say goodbye to those sticky fruit juices that “glue” the cake to the pan.
Credit: Photo: Erik Bernstein; Food Styling: Spencer Richards

Key Ingredients in Lemon Blueberry Cake

  • Lemons: You’ll need the zest of 2 lemons in the cake batter, and the juice of those lemons for the frosting.
  • Butter: This makes a big cake (enough to serve 12!), so you’ll need a whole pound of unsalted butter!
  • Blueberries: You can use fresh or frozen blueberries in the cake. You’ll need 2 cups or about 10 ounces.

How to Make Lemon Blueberry Cake

  1. Make lemon sugar. Rub lemon zest into granulated sugar to release the oils.
  2. Make the batter. Beat butter and lemon sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, then alternate beating in the dry ingredients and milk.
  3. Layer in the blueberries. To make sure the blueberries don’t sink into the bottom of the cake, spread a layer of plain batter into 2 round cake pans first. Mix half of the blueberries into the remaining batter and divide between the pans. Finally, sprinkle the batter with the remaining blueberries.
  4. Bake and frost. Bake the cakes, then let cool. Beat butter, lemon sugar, powdered sugar, and vanilla together to make the frosting, and use it to frost the cake.

Helpful Swaps

  • Vegan butter (give this cultured vegan butter a try) can be used in place of regular butter. If using salted vegan butter, reduce the salt in the cake to 1 teaspoon, and omit the salt in the frosting.
  • Fresh or frozen blueberries can be used. If using frozen blueberries, do not thaw, and note that the cake will more likely have some blue-ish streaks.

Storage and Make-Ahead Tips

  • The cakes and frosting can be made up to 1 day ahead. Store the cakes tightly wrapped in plastic wrap at room temperature, and the frosting in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Let the frosting come to room temperature before assembling the cake and whisk to lighten if needed.
  • Alternatively, the cake can be assembled and decorated up to 1 day before serving. Refrigerate uncovered and let the cake come to room temperature before serving.
  • Leftover cake can be covered and refrigerated for up to 5 days. Here’s the best way to store cake.

More Lemon Blueberry Recipes

Lemon Blueberry Cake Recipe

Don’t forget the tangy lemon frosting.

Prep time 40 minutes to 50 minutes

Cook time 35 minutes to 40 minutes

Makes 1 layer cake

Serves 12

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

For the cake:

  • 2 sticks (8 ounces)

    unsalted butter

  • 4

    large eggs

  • 1 1/2 cups

    whole milk

  • Cooking spray

  • 3 cups

    all-purpose flour

  • 2 teaspoons

    baking powder

  • 2 teaspoons

    vanilla extract

  • 2 cups

    granulated sugar

  • 2

    medium lemons

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons

    kosher salt

  • 2 cups

    fresh or frozen blueberries (do not thaw, about 10 ounces), divided

For the frosting:

  • 2 sticks (8 ounces)

    unsalted butter

  • 1 pound

    powdered sugar (about 4 cups)

  • 1/4 cup

    lemon juice (from the lemons in the cake)

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 1 teaspoon

    vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Place 4 sticks unsalted butter, 4 large eggs, and 1 1/2 cups whole milk on the counter. Let everything sit at room temperature until the butter is softened.

Make the cake:

  1. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Meanwhile, coat 2 (9-inch) round cake pans with cooking spray; line the bottom of each with a parchment paper round. Place 3 cups all-purpose flour and 2 teaspoons baking powder in a medium bowl and whisk to combine. Add 2 teaspoons vanilla extract to the milk and stir to combine.

  2. Place 2 cups granulated sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer (or large bowl if using an electric hand mixer). Finely grate the zest of 2 medium lemons directly into the bowl; reserve the lemons for the frosting. Rub the zest into the sugar with your fingers until fragrant.

  3. Add 2 sticks of the unsalted butter and 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt to the lemon sugar. Beat with the paddle attachment on medium speed until lightened in color and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a flexible spatula. Beat in the eggs on medium speed one at a time, waiting until each egg is completely incorporated before adding the next. Scrape down the sides again.

  4. With the mixer on the lowest speed, add about 1/3 of the flour mixture and beat until just combined. Pour in half of the milk mixture and beat until just combined. Scrape down the sides again. Repeat beating in half of the remaining flour and the remaining milk mixture. Beat in the remaining flour mixture and continue beating just until a thick batter forms.

  5. Transfer 1 1/2 cups of the batter into each cake pan and spread into an even layer. Add 1 cup blueberries to the remaining batter and fold with a flexible spatula until just combined. Divide the blueberry batter between the cake pans (about 2 3/4 cups each) and spread into an even layer. Sprinkle evenly with the remaining 1 cup blueberries and gently press on them so they are partially submerged.

  6. Bake until golden brown around the edges and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 35 to 42 minutes. Let the cakes cool in the pans for 15 minutes. Run a thin knife around the edge of each cake to loosen. Flip the cakes out of the pans onto a large flat plate or cutting board and remove the parchment. Flip the cakes right-side up onto a wire rack. Let cool completely, about 1 hour. Do not make the frosting until the cakes are cooled.

Make the frosting:

  1. Sift 1 pound powdered sugar. Juice the reserved lemons until you have 1/4 cup.

  2. Place the remaining 2 sticks unsalted butter and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt in the clean, dry bowl of a stand mixer (or large bowl if using an electric hand mixer). Beat with the paddle attachment on medium speed until lightened in color and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a flexible spatula.

  3. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add in the powdered sugar and beat until combined. Beat in the lemon juice and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Gradually increase the speed from low to medium-high and beat, scraping the bowl halfway through, until whipped and lightened in color, 4 to 5 minutes total.

Assemble the cake:

  1. If the tops of the cakes are domed, trim off the tops with a serrated knife so they are level.

  2. Place a small dollop of frosting in the center of a serving plate or cake stand. Top with one of the cake layers. Dollop 1 cup of the frosting on top and spread into an even layer, going all the way to the edges. Top with the second cake layer. Frost the top and sides with the remaining frosting.

Recipe Notes

Make ahead: The cakes and frosting can be made up to 1 day ahead. Store the cakes tightly wrapped in plastic wrap at room temperature, and the frosting in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Let the frosting come to room temperature before assembling the cake and whisk to lighten if needed.

Alternatively, the cake can be assembled and decorated up to 1 day before serving. Refrigerate uncovered and let the cake come to room temperature before serving.

Storage: Leftover cake can be covered and refrigerated for up to 5 days. Let come to room temperature before serving.