Almond Layer Cake with Blackberry Buttercream

an almond layer cake with blackberry buttercream being sliced

This celebratory Almond Layer Cake with Blackberry Buttercream is an elegant combination of the perfect yellow cake with an unusual tangy berry frosting…don’t be surprised if this easy layer cake becomes your most requested dessert.

Ingredients

For the cake

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1-3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 sticks, or 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 tsp almond extract
  • 1-1/4 cup half-and-half (or whole milk, or buttermilk)

For the blackberry buttercream

  • 3 sticks, or 1-1/2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 5 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 4-6 Tbsp blackberry puree, see note below
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 Tbsp half-and-half or milk

For the garnish

  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup fresh blackberries

Instructions

For the cake

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Butter three 8-inch cake pans, and line the bottoms with a circle of parchment paper. Note: if you don't have three pans, bake two layers first, and the third later.
  2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt, and set aside.
  3. In an electric stand mixer with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and the sugar until very pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Don't skip this step, it's important for the cake's texture. (You can also use a hand held mixer.)
  4. Add the eggs, one a time, letting each one get fully incorporated before adding the next. Blend in the extract.
  5. Turn the speed to low and blend in the flour mixture. While the mixer is running, slowly add the half-and-half, or milk, and stop when everything is fully incorporated. I like to mix my batter a little bit by hand at the end, to make sure everything from the sides and the bottom of the bowl is fully incorporated.
  6. Divide the batter between the three cake pans, and bake for 20-25 minutes until puffed, golden, and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out without wet batter on it.
  7. Allow the cakes to cool for a few minutes in the pan, then remove and cool fully on a baking rack.

For the frosting

  1. In an electric mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the butter until very smooth. Add the powdered sugar, a couple of cups at a time, and mix until smooth.
  2. Add the blackberry puree, vanilla extract, and milk, and blend until smooth.
  3. You can adjust the amounts of these liquid ingredients to get the color, flavor, and texture you want in your frosting. More blackberry puree will produce a darker color and a more tart frosting. If your blackberries are very sweet, you can also add a little lemon juice in place of some of the milk to make the frosting a bit more tart.

For the garnish

  1. To make the candied almonds, add the sliced almonds and sugar to a saucepan, and heat until the sugar melts and starts to caramelize. Stir a few times to coat the almonds in the sugar. Be careful, as the almonds can burn quickly!
  2. Transfer the candied almonds onto a sheet of parchment paper, and allow to cool.
  3. Coarsely chop or break up the candied almonds into smaller pieces, and arrange them around the top of the cake along with the fresh blackberries.

Notes

To make blackberry puree, cook about 2 cups of blackberries in a small saucepan until they release their juices and thicken slightly (this should take just a few minutes). Strain through a fine mesh strainer, pushing the berries down to extract as much juice/puree as possible. For me, this resulted in about 1/3 cup puree, which I used just about all of in the frosting. Your milage may vary depending on the size and juiciness of your blackberries.
You could use blackberry jam in a pinch.

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