How I Made My Sister’s Favorite Bakery Cake Right at Home




Photo by: Ryan Liebe

Ryan Liebe

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You know how everyone has that one dessert they always order time and time again? Though it pains me to pick just one, if I had to, I’d say chocolate lava cake is mine. It doesn’t matter if I ate it the night before or if a restaurant has dessert specials, if it’s listed on the dessert menu, that’s what I’m ordering.

Unlike chocolate lava cake — which is readily available in many bakeries or can be whipped up at home if I’m really in a pinch — my twin sister Nicole’s all-time favorite dessert is much harder to come by.

Part almond cake, part lemon curd and part raspberries, my twin sister’s favorite layer cake only comes out once a year at our local bakery. We often have to call the bakery in advance to get a slice reserved for us, and more often than not, the slice doesn’t last long during the drive back home. Nicole affectionately calls it her “spring cake” because its mix of zesty lemon and sweet fruit flavors reminds her of being outdoors in the sunshine. It’s also the only time she actually enjoys the taste of almonds. (She won’t even entertain the idea of eating them any other time.)

Though our local bakery has remained open during the current pandemic, they’ve had to narrow down their menu a bit and don’t yet know if – or when – Nicole’s “spring cake” will be available to purchase. You can probably imagine how sad this news made my sister. She lamented quite a bit about how she’d like to cancel 2020 (Honestly, don’t we all?) and declared that she’d never eat another dessert again. Dramatic, I know…

Being the sister that I am, I knew I had to do something to cheer Nicole up and consulted the Food Network Kitchen app for help. When I came across Vivian Chan’s Blueberry-Almond Cake with Lemon Curd class, I knew it was just the thing that would make my sister smile.

I knew Viv would be the perfect person to walk me through making this light, airy and summery confection. During the 36-minute class, Viv teaches you everything from how to make the perfect fluffy cake (hint: use cake flour) to how to properly use a cake round. As someone who hasn’t made that many layer cakes from scratch, I really appreciated all the tips Viv sprinkles throughout the class including how you should always add your dry ingredients into your wet ingredients in one-third batches to ensure that you don’t overwork your cake batter. And how, if you’ve been toasting nuts on a tray in the oven, you should always place the tray on a trivet instead of directly on your countertop, or your nuts will steam and will lose all their lovely crunch.

Viv also encourages viewers to customize the cake to satisfy their very own wants and cravings. “You guys can personalize it anyway you want,” she says when getting to work on her lemon curd whipped cream. Though Viv’s recipe calls for fresh blueberries, she also notes that frozen ones work just as well and that you can totally sub out the lemon juice used in her icing with blueberry jam to give yours a bright pop of color.

I’m planning on using raspberries when I bake my own version this weekend; when paired with the roasted almond slivers on top and the citrusy lemon curd whipped cream in the cake's center, I think it'll just be the thing to get Nicole to eat desserts again.

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