I do a lot of baking with berries in the summertime…because BERRIES! I typically use them a topping (as opposed to baking them), because they’re just so darn good as-is! This time I decided to leave the (beautiful, roll-your-eyes good) berries for snacking. I used freeze-dried berries for this gorgeous Vanilla Cake with Berry Buttercream.
This Vanilla Cake with Berry Buttercream is three layers of the BEST tender, flavorful vanilla cake frosted with strawberry, raspberry, and blueberry buttercreams. *heart eyes*
The cake recipe uses cake flour and coconut oil, which lend the cake it’s super soft and fluffy texture. I don’t suggest substitutions for these! It also uses buttermilk, which improves the cakes moisture and flavor. If you don’t have buttermilk, you can make a quick substitution with milk and vinegar or lemon juice (see recipe notes).
Last, but never least, I added vanilla bean paste to the cake batter. You know me, it’s in everything! Delicious and more economical than whole vanilla beans, this ingredient is my go-to for an extra punch of flavor. You can find it online [here]. If you prefer to substitute, you can use an equal measure of vanilla extract.
This recipe is for a 6″ triple-layer cake. If you’re looking to get some 6″ pans for yourself, these are the ones that I use [here]. I also have details in the recipe notes on how to adapt the recipe for an 8″ triple-layer cake. If you don’t have three pans, the batter will still be good at room temperature for about three hours if you need to bake them individually. I only have two, so I use my kitchen scale (link [here]) to help to ensure that I have the same amount of batter in each pan.
I considered making Swiss meringue buttercream for this cake, because I LOVE it. But, it’s summer. It’s hot. I wanted a delicious dessert, but I didn’t want the hassle or additional heat in my kitchen. Every so often, a quick-and-easy American buttercream is what you need!
Make sure to use *freeze-dried* berries for the buttercream, as they are free of moisture and will process into a powder in your food processor. If you can’t find them at your local grocery store, they are available from Amazon ([strawberries], [raspberries], and [blueberries]).
If you choose to process the different berries separately, like I did, I suggest starting with the strawberries (lightest in color) and ending with the blueberries (darkest in color). That way, you won’t have to wash the bowl between berry types (moisture wreaks havoc on this process). You also won’t end up with dark remnant pieces of blueberry in your lighter strawberry buttercream.
This cake would be perfect in early spring before berries are in season. That said, the flavors of the freeze-dried berries make this a fabulous treat for summer, too! I hope you have one of these beauties whipped up in your kitchen soon!
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Vanilla Cake with Berry Buttercream
- 2 cups cake flour (see note)
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, soft but still cool (1 stick)
- 1/3 cup virgin coconut oil, solid but creamy (see note)
- 1 cup sugar
- 1¼ tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp baking soda
- pinch salt
- ½ cup egg whites (from about 3 eggs)
- 1 Tbsp vanilla bean paste (see note)
- 1 cup buttermilk (can substitute; see note)
- 3 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature (6 sticks)
- 5⅓ cups powdered sugar, sifted
- 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
- 2 Tbsp heavy (whipping) cream
- 1 oz freeze-dried blueberries (see note)
- 1 oz freeze-dried raspberries (see note)
- 1 oz freeze-dried strawberries (see note)
- Preheat oven to 325F. Grease three 6" cake pans and set aside (see note).
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine butter, coconut oil, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- With the mixer running on low, add the egg whites one at a time. Add vanilla bean paste (see note) and mix to combine.
- With the mixer running on low, alternate additions of flour and buttermilk. Add 1/3 of the flour, followed by 1/3 of the buttermilk. Repeat for remaining flour and buttermilk, allowing each addition to incorporate before adding the next.
- Divide the batter between the prepared pans (see note).
- Bake for about 30 minutes, turning the cakes around at the halfway point to help ensure an even bake. A toothpick inserted in the center of the cake should come out clean. Allow the cakes to cool completely on a wire rack.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter and sifted powdered sugar until smooth.
- Add vanilla extract and cream. The buttercream will be on the thin side until we add the berries.
- In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the berries until they turn into a fine powder. You will want to make sure that everything you use is COMPLETELY dry to keep the powder from clumping up.
- You can process all the berries together and put them all in the buttercream for a mixed berry buttercream. I chose to process the berries separately, divide the buttercream evenly between three bowls, and have three different flavors of buttercream (see note on flavoring buttercream).
- Frost cooled vanilla cake layers with buttercream. If storing in the refrigerator, allow the buttercream to warm before serving.Enjoy!