Marbled Lemon Blueberry Butter Cake Recipe

With all of my attention, love, and affection (for food, at least) directed at bread baking these days, it might seem that I’ve strayed from my first love, pastry.

However, when given the opportunity to spend a Friday away from the bread kitchen, I happily settled back into my own, excited to be working with butter, sugar, and blueberries in season creating something sweet, tall, and delicious to go along with the fortune cookies and send Matthew off to Pittsburgh properly.

So many important milestones in the lives of friends and loved ones are marked by me pouring through cookbooks, searching for a cake that I think will speak to the honoree in a particular way. Sometimes these decisions are ingredient-based, like the cakes that I make for chocoholics, and sometimes the cake is driven by a theme or message, in which case aesthetics will drive the flavor choices that I make.

In Matthew’s case I had nothing to go on. He likes every flavor. He’s a dream of a dinner guest because there’s absolutely no limits to the foods that he’s willing to try.

For a warm August rooftop party, doing something gooey and chocolate just didn’t seem right. Especially when the blueberries are still piled high in the stalls of the farmer’s market. I wanted light airy cake, even lighter frosting, and a cake that would show off the star ingredient beautifully.

Just like so may times before, my quest ended with Alissa Huntsman’s gorgeous book, where I found this. Swirls of blueberry and lemon in a cake as light as air, sandwiching fresh blueberry jam between the layers, and covered in a light, just slightly lemon buttercream.

The results were all one could hope for from a summer celebration cake, delicious, beautiful, and not too heavy.

And like all the other cakes featured in Sky High Cakes, this was perfect for it’s honoree, time, and place. I highly suggest that you run out and get a copy. It’s worth it for the food porn alone.

Marbled Lemon Blueberry Butter Cake
Almost as is from Sky High: Irresistible Triple-Layer Cakes by Alisa Huntsman and Peter Wynne

2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 cups sugar

2 tsp grated lemon zest

11⁄2 tsp lemon extract ( I do not have lemon extract and substituted with an additional tsp lemon zest)

7 egg whites

3 cups cake flour

4 tsp baking powder

1⁄2 tsp salt

11⁄4 cups milk

Fresh blueberries, for decoration

Lemon blueberry preserves (below)

Lemon buttercream frosting (below)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter the bottom and sides of three 8 inch round cake pans. Line the bottom of each pan with a round of parchment or waxed paper and butter the paper.  In a mixer, cream together the butter, sugar, lemon zest and lemon extract until light and fluffy. Gradually add the egg whites 2 or 3 at a time, beating well between additions and stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Combine the flour, baking powder and salt, whisk gently to blend. In 2 or 3 alternating additions, beat the dry ingredients and milk into the butter mixture, scraping down the sides of the bowl several times. Beat on medium-high speed for about 1 minute to smooth out any lumps and aerate the batter.

Scoop 1 cup of the batter into a small bowl. Divide the remaining equally among the 3 prepared pans, smoothing the tops with a spatula. This gives you a smooth surface to work with. Add 21⁄2 tbsp of the lemon blueberry preserves to the reserved batter and blend well. Drizzle heaping teaspoons of this blueberry mixture over the batter in the pans. Use a skewer to swirl the blueberry mixture in short strokes to drag it down through the lemon batter without mixing it in.

Bake for about 25 minutes or until a cake tester or skewer stuck in the centre comes out clean and the cake pulls away from the sides of the pan. Lat the layers cool for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack, peeling off the paper and leaving to cool completely.

Lemon Blueberry Preserves

3 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen

1/2 cup sugar

2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

11⁄2 tsp grated lemon zest

1 tsp grated fresh ginger

Puree the blueberries with any juices that have exuded in a blender. Pass the puree through a coarse strainer to remove the skins.  In a heavy medium saucepan, combine the blueberry puree with the sugar, lemon juice, zest and ginger. Bring to a gentle boil over a medium heat, stirring often for 20 minutes, or until the preserves have thickened and are reduced to 1 cup. To check the proper thickness place a small amount of a saucer and put in the freezer until cold. Drag your finger through it. If a clear path is made through the preserve then it is ready. Let the preserves cool before using. (Can be made up to 5 days in advance).

Lemon Buttercream Frosting

1 cup sugar

1⁄4 cup water

2 eggs

3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and water. Bring to the boil over a medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Continue to boil without stirring, occasionally washing down the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush until the syrup reaches the soft-ball stage, 238 degrees F on a candy thermometer. Immediately remove from the heat.

In a large mixer bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed, beast the eggs briefly. Slowly add the hot syrup in a thin stream, pouring it down the sides of the bowl; be careful to avoid hitting the beaters or the syrup may splatter. When all the syrup has been added, raise the speed to medium,-high and beat until the mixture is very fluffy and cooled to body temperature. This can take 15-20 minutes.  Reduce the mixer speed to medium-low and gradually add the softened butter 2 to 3 tablespoons at a time, beating well between additions. As you’re adding the last few tablespoons of butter, the frosting will appear to break, then suddenly come together like whipped butter. Beat in the lemon juice, and the frosting is ready to use.

To Assemble

To assemble the cake, place a layer, flat side up, on a cake stand. Spread half of the lemon blueberry preserves over the top. Place a second layer on top of the first and spread the remaining preserves over it. Finally place the third layer on top and frost the top and sides with the lemon buttercream.  Decorate with fresh blueberries and serve.

Makes one 8 inch triple layered cake.


  1. Posted August 21, 2009 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    As I was reading I couldn’t wait or was hoping for a pic of the inside of the cake. Viola, there is was. Perfect cake. Nicely done!

  2. Posted August 21, 2009 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

    That’s really awesome and detailed. We’ve always your attention for great details. And flavors!

  3. Posted August 21, 2009 at 10:07 pm | Permalink

    What a gorgeous cake!!! Really boasting in the summer season flavours!!

  4. Posted August 22, 2009 at 7:02 am | Permalink

    This is an absolutely delicious cake from “Sky High”. I baked this cake with the Cake Slice Bakers group as our July cake selection and loved it. The flavours of lemon and blueberries worked very well together.

  5. Matt
    Posted August 22, 2009 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

    This cake was phenomenal! It was light & airy while still being packed with flavor.

    Pitt is going well so far and everyone has been really friendly! And it has been amazing to finally have my own kitchen again :) I even became ambitious and started making my own bread (for the first time). It’s really dangerous to bake a huge focaccia when you live alone. It just stares at you until its gone. I don’t know how you control yourself in bread baking class.

  6. Posted August 22, 2009 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

    once again, thanks for the kind words! your cake turned out beautifully. believe it or not, that was one of the toughest cakes in the book for me. so many tests to get it just right-the swirls needed to be the right color and density so that they wouldn’t sink or change colors. i hope your guest of honor enjoyed the cake as much as i enjoyed reading your post.
    alisa huntsman

  7. tory
    Posted August 22, 2009 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

    oh my god.

    come to VT right now. this looks delish!

  8. Posted August 23, 2009 at 11:22 pm | Permalink

    The marble is such a wonderful touch to this cake. Really gives it that something extra.

  9. Laura
    Posted August 24, 2009 at 11:06 am | Permalink

    Simply amazing! You are so talented–it looks like it belongs in a store window to admire not eat! Speaking of beautiful desserts, I also saw your lovely sweet potato one in ANOTHER blog!! You are becoming quite famous young lady. Lastly, a colleague brought some Jacques Torres cookies in the other day, and I have to tell ya, most of us agreed that the ones you made for me tasted better than the ones from the JT store!

  10. Posted August 24, 2009 at 11:49 am | Permalink

    Very pretty cake. I love the marbled blueberry.

  11. Posted August 24, 2009 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

    What an amazing cake.

  12. Posted June 2, 2010 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

    This cake is stunning! I love the swirl of blueberry, its gorgeous! I’m wanting to make myself a birthday cake this weekend, and I wanted to do a lemon cake, I always find whenever I make a homemade cake the layers never are tall enough!! but yours seem just fine! Is there any special trick to making the batter go further or for it to rise? I just want to make a cake all at once without having to make more batter for the next batch! Thanks =)

  13. Posted June 5, 2010 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

    Alicia – Sorry for the late response – I’ve been toiling away in the restaurant all week without a break! This recipe easily fills out three eight inch cake pans. Just be sure that you are using baking powder that has not passed expiration date and that you allow the cakes to bake undisturbed for 15 minutes or so before rotating, and when you do rotate, do so carefully to prevent the cake from collapsing. Also, take care not to slam the oven door.

  14. Posted June 6, 2010 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

    Thanks Lauren, I acutally noticed last week my baking soda had expired! So I bought a new one! The cake was really yummy and delicious thanks so much for sharing

  15. Christine
    Posted July 21, 2012 at 10:44 am | Permalink

    I’m going to make this cake next week but am nervous about one of the steps – why doesn’t the hot sugar water cook the eggs as you add it? Should I use my electric hand mixer (with the two beaters) or my kitchen aid stand mixer? Thanks for the tips in advance!

  16. Christine
    Posted July 30, 2012 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

    So I’m not sure how it would have gone differently, but here’s what happened. The cake was fabulous and easy. The frosting, however, was a challenge. I tested my candy thermometer ahead of time to make sure it was accurate. I followed the directions exactly, but the sugar hardened as it hit the bowl and slowly made a hard waterfall down the side as my husband drizzled it and I beat the eggs with the electric hand mixer. There were big balls of hardened sugar in the batter and the mixer struggled with it. It tasted good, but much of the sugar didn’t make it into the frosting, so I had to add a Tbs or so of confectioners at the end to sweeten it a bit more. How do you prevent the sugar from hardening? (it was a warm kitchen with room temperature eggs). I’d love to make this again but don’t know what to change to make it work

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