Triple-Berry Vanilla Cake

Vanilla Layer Cake with Fresh Strawberries, Blackberries, and Raspberries in Mascarpone Cream Filling, frosted with Vanilla Buttercream and topped with Fresh Berries
The markets have been filled with the most amazing fruit – all sorts of berries are inspiring me to bake some type of cake.  I baked a vanilla cake two days ago and popped into it the fridge.  Hot tip: when wrapped tightly and sprinkled with powdered sugar, most cakes will stay moist and delicious up to a week.
I decided to combined the berries and vanilla cake for a scrumptious layer, cream-filled delight.  Some things went really well and some things need improvement. 
First, I love the sound and flavor of this cake – we were not disappointed with how the cake tasted (I was so interested in this cake, I ate three bites).  It was like strawberry shortcake with the volume turned way up!  The Mascarpone cream filling is the best best best compliment to fresh berries.
I added a ring of stiff vanilla buttercream to help ‘hold in’ the fresh fruit that has a tendency to ooze out the sides, making the subsequent crumb coat and icing all the more challenging.

This is the Mascarpone cream filling – next time, I’ll add a teaspoon or two of fruit preserves to the filling.  It’ll enhance the natural flavor of the fresh berries and tint the cream filling.  This will help each layer appear more distinct.

Bottom layer was strawberries.  I was going for a pattern of red, black, red… but it turned all mushy grey when I ran the knife through the cake during slicing and the blackberry juice turned everything below it a dark, inky color.  Hot tip: put blackberries in the bottom layer.

These berries were so delicious.  It might be worth having a cake all to themselves. 

You can see the slight dome on the top layer of cake, I went back and added a smaller ring or buttercream to keep the cake level.  This made icing the whole thing much, much easier.

I work with raspberries when making lemon cakes… and they are just as amazing with vanilla. 

Finished stacking the cake and ready for a crumb coat.  Usually a cake this tall I would dowel it, but this was quite sturdy and I didn’t.  That was a good call; it held together beautifully.
That being said, it wasn’t very pretty on in the inside and the slices looked like some kinda riot took place, (thought bubble: Occupy Layer Cake?).  Anyway, I think I have some solutions for next time.  This cake deserves another chance and I would love an opportunity to take it to some event or something.  Maybe I’ll simply invite myself along to somebody else’s life. 

There were so many options for decorating.  I wanted to keep things simple – and shining a spotlight on the fresh berries seemed a natural approach.  Don’t they look amazing?

I really like this swirly pattern at the base of the cake.  It was so easy and fast.  The longer I look at it, the more I think I want to try icing a whole cake with this technique.  Talk about pretty!

 Again, about actually slicing the cake open….

This patient needs triage.  And I still love that ruffled base around the bottom of the cake.
Not the look I was hoping for…


Adding fresh berries to each serving would definitely camouflage the blackberry, juice extractor effect.
Bonus:  More berries are better, almost always.


Things I learned designing and constructing this cake:

  • Add more flavor, flavor, flavor (do I hear Flava Flav in the house?); that’s a consistent message, always more flavor. 
  • Add more color that can enhance and highlight the focus of the cake, e.g. berries. 
  • There can be too much buttercream (really?) – just take a look at those white sidewalls.
  • Berries are amazing to work with for taste and inspiration.
  • A berry sorbet would pair brilliantly with this cake

I also was reminded, again, that I have amazing support for cake exploration from my life partner.  He brings joy to my life and knows when to listen and when to offer feedback.  I think our kids are outstanding cheerleaders (this one has a blog).  And our community of local friends are heavily involved in taste-testing and suggestions.

And I don’t stand a chance at any of the good stuff if I’m not in recovery and working a program.

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