This pretty little cake will win you over with its light and moist layers of vanilla chiffon cake and blueberry Italian meringue buttercream. I made this for the first time about 4 years ago for my husband for Valentine's, but didn't get a chance to take any pictures. I've been meaning to make this again ever since because it was so pretty and delicious (even my husband loved it and he's not the biggest cake eater, ironically...). So when Challenge asked me to make a cake featuring a special frosting recipe, I knew this was it!
When I make layer cakes, I love to use Italian meringue buttercream versus classic American buttercream. It is not as teeth-pulling sweet, a little ’lighter’ due to its high egg white content, holds its shape much better than classic buttercream and does not melt off your cake, especially in the heat of the summer. The secret is the cooked meringue which gives the buttercream its silky texture and makes it stable. It is prepared by the addition of sugar syrup. The sugar syrup is made by bringing water and sugar to a boil and then heating it to soft-ball stage (118 °C / 244 °F). This is important so that the syrup will cook the egg whites and heats them well past 60 °C (140 °F), the temperature recommended to kill salmonella and any other potentially harmful bacteria.
After the sugar syrup has been added, the egg whites need to be beaten for at least 15 minutes until glossy peaks form and it reaches room temperature. If it is not cooled down to room temperature before adding the butter, the butter will melt and you will end up with a runny, worst case soupy, buttercream.
The buttercream can be flavored with either vanilla, almond extract, nuts, or any other flavoring. My personally favorite and tip is to flavor buttercream with fruit powder – pulverized freeze dried fruit, in this case blueberries. You can get freeze dried berries, apples, pears and other fruit at Trader Joes, Whole Foods, Amazon, Aldi, and many other stores. Simply blend them in your mixer until they are pulverized. The advantage of flavoring buttercream this way is that you are giving it a very natural flavor and color without any artificial food colorings and additives, but you are not adding liquids to the buttercream as you would when adding real blueberries. And all-natural goes with Challenge Butter’s philosophy of high quality butter that is pure and fresh and free of anything artificial or synthetic. And that is what I love about Challenge butter and why I do not use anything else anymore, especially for my buttercream recipes.
- 2 cups sifted cake flour
- 1½ cups sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 pinch of salt
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- 7 eggs, separated
- ¾ cup milk
- ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1 vanilla bean
- 5 sticks unsalted Challenge Butter
- 8 egg whites
- 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1 ⅓ cups sugar
- ⅔ cups water
- 1.5 oz freeze-dried blueberries (blended to a powder)
Grease two 8-inch cake pans and preheat oven to 325F.
Sift flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into a bowl.
Make a well and add oil, egg yolks, milk, inside of vanilla bean to the well and set aside. Don't beat.
In a large mixing bowl, beat egg whites and cream of tartar until very stiff. Set aside.
Mix egg yolk batter until smooth and light.
Pour batter gradually over egg whites, folding in with rubber spatula. Do not stir.
Divide batter amongst cake pans.
Bake for 55 minutes.
Let the layers cool down completely, preferably over night.
Once cooled down, cut each cake in 2 layers.
In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring sugar and water to a boil. Boil until syrup reaches soft-ball stage (240°F on a candy thermometer).
In an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat egg whites on low until foamy. Add cream of tartar and beat on medium high until stiff but not dry.
With mixer running, pour syrup down side of bowl into egg whites in a steady stream. Beat on high speed for about 15 minutes until the egg whites are cool to the touch and stiff and glossy.
Beat in butter a few pieces at a time.
Add blueberry powder and beat until smooth. If it looks curdled at any point, keep beating to smooth out.