Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Bubbe would be proud

Children's division entries
For several years, I have judged the annual Bubbe's Bake Off competition at Congregation Ahaveth Chesed's Jacksonville Jewish Food Festival.

This year's, the seventh, the judging panel was particularly impressed with entries in the children's category. Both first- and second-place-winning young bakers found their recipes on line but they prepared the entries themselves; no adults are allowed in the kitchen during prep and baking.

Here is the first place winner so you can taste for yourself. Second place will follow later.

First place: Hannah Brown, 13, said summers with lemons and picking blueberries with her grandmother was her inspiration for choosing this recipe from

Lemon Blueberry Layer Cake

1 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 TBS vanilla extract
3 cups sifted all-purpose flour, (spoon and leveled)
1 TBS baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk
zest plus juice of 3 medium lemons
1 1/2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen (do not thaw)
1 TBS all-purpose flour

Cream Cheese Frosting
8 oz. full-fat brick style cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
3 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 - 2 TBS heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch salt
lemon zest
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and lightly flour three 9x2-inch cake pans with nonstick spray. Set aside.

Using a handheld or stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on high until creamy -- about 1 minute. Add granulated and brown sugars and beat on medium-high speed until creamed, about 2-3 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla. Beat on medium speed until everything is completely combined, about 2 full minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Set aside.

In a large-sized bowl, toss together the flour, baking powder and salt. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Beat on low speed for 5 seconds, then add the milk, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Remove from the mixer and stir lightly until everything is just combined. Toss the blueberries in 1 tablespoon of flour and fold into the batter. Batter is extremely thick. Do not over-mix at any point. Over-mixing will lend a tough, dense textured crumb.

Spoon batter evenly into 3 prepared cake pans. If only using 2 cake pans, bake time will be longer. Bake the three layers for about 21-26 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before frosting.

Using a handheld or stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat cream cheese and butter together on medium speed until no lumps remain, about 3 full minutes. Add confectioners' sugar, 1 tablespoon cream, vanilla extract, and salt with the mixer running on low. Increase to high speed and beat for 3 minutes. Add 1 more tablespoon of cream to thin out, if desired. Recipe is enough for a light frost.

Using a large serrated knife, trim the tops off the cake layers to create a flat surface. Place 1 layer on your cake stand. Evenly cover the top with cream cheese frosting. Top with 2nd layer, more frosting, then the third layer. Top with frosting and spread around the sides. Top with blueberries or lemon garnish if desired. Refrigerate for at least 45 minutes before cutting, or the cake may fall apart as you cut.

Tip: Prepare cakes and frosting 1 day in advance. Keep cakes at room temperature, covered tightly. Refrigerate prepared frosting in an airtight container until ready to use. Frosted or unfrosted cakes may be frozen up to 2 months, thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature if desired before serving.

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