It’s that time of year! The calendar has officially turned from Summer to Fall. There are bins of pumpkins overflowing outside every grocery store I frequent, retail decor is ranging from Halloween to Christmas, and Trader Joe’s is an explosion of Pumpkin Spice EVERYTHING.
Meanwhile, Karl The Fog has taken his annual vacation (or seems to be thinking about it at least), which means it is finally SF Summer, which means I’m coming at you today with blackberries! And sprinkles!
(I love fall, but if I can’t wear sweaters yet then nobody gets pumpkin anything from me.)
I made this cake twice. The first time, I was supposed to make it for my friend Mercedes’s baby shower, but then she unexpectedly went into labor the day before, and so I was off the hook, but still kind of had it in my head that I wanted to make a cake. So I made a tiny taste-test version for myself, and then, when I saw Mercedes a couple weekends ago, I made her a bigger version, because I felt that after having a baby, especially after that, she still deserved a cake!
I’m really happy I had multiple opportunities to test this one out! I knew I wanted to combine funfetti with blackberries, exactly the way Salt and Straw did it with their Birthday Cakes and Blackberries seasonal flavor earlier this Summer. It sounds weird, but the tart blackberries really compliment the sugar high of vanilla and sprinkles, and together, they make magic.
But which funfetti recipe to use? Claire and I made the Milk Bar recipe for our royal wedding viewing earlier this year, and it was so, so good, but I’d also been wanting to make the other funfetti cake that broke the internet, and try out Molly Yeh’s recipe. So I tried both! For the first taste test version, I made a mini version of Molly’s cake, but using with swiss meringue buttercream to cut down on the sweetness and real vanilla extract. For one, I couldn’t find any clear imitation vanilla in the store (but I did find butter extract. Excuse me, WHO is using this???) and I also thought that maybe real vanilla would pair better with the blackberries. It was tasty, but fussier to make, with the need to separate eggs and bake the layers in separate pans.
So, for the second version, I went back to the Christina Tosi cake, baking up the batter in a quarter sheet pan, then stamping out the layers with a 6-inch cake ring. I used the milk soak she calls for, and the swiss meringue buttercream again, but this time I flavored everything with clear imitation vanilla (which I now own a full 32 oz of, if you know anyone who needs some). I LOVED this one! The milk soak keeps everything moist, the imitation vanilla gives you exactly that nostalgic funfetti flavor we all remember, the frosting isn’t too sweet, and the blackberries zipped right through everything.
The result was festive and summery and full of both jammy and fresh berry flavors. It’s a new favorite for me, and I was going to use the leftovers in my freezer to hang on to Summer as long as the weather stayed hot,* but then the weather cooled down. And also, I ate all the cake.
*AKA, mid-70s. Sorry, I am ruined.
Funfetti & Blackberries Cake
Cake layers adapted from Christina Tosi.
For the cake:
1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened to room temp
1/3 cup vegetable shortening
1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
3 tbs, tightly packed, light brown sugar
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup grapeseed oil
2 tsp clear imitation vanilla
2 cups cake flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 cup plus 2 tbs rainbow sprinkles (see note)
For the swiss meringue buttercream:
4 egg whites
1 1/4 cup sugar
3 sticks butter, unsalted, room temp
1 tsp clear imitation vanilla
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp clear imitation vanilla
blackberry jam, good quality
blackberries, for decorating
sprinkles, for decorating
Bake the cake: Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a quarter sheet pan with cooking spray and line with parchment. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the butter, shortening, and sugars and beat on medium-high for 2-3 minutes, scraping down as needed, and then add the eggs and beat another 2-3 minutes on medium-high.
Turn the mixer to low and pour in buttermilk, oil and vanilla extract. With speed on medium-high, beat for 4-6 minutes, until the mixture is very, very pale, almost white, and almost doubled in size. When you see no more streaks of fat or liquid in the batter, it is ready for the dry ingredients. Add the cake flour, baking powder and salt, as well as the 1/4 cup of sprinkles, and mix for no more than a minute, just until everything comes together.
Spread the batter evenly into the prepared cake pan and then sprinkle with remaining sprinkles. Bake 30-35 minutes, until puffed and no longer jiggling in the middle. Cool cake completely in the pan, on a wire rack.
Make the frosting: Set bowl of mixer over a pot of simmering water, and add the egg whites and sugar and whisk to combine. Continue whisking until sugar dissolves and mixture is very warm to the touch, or reached 160 degrees on an instant read thermometer.
Transfer bowl to stand mixer and beat egg white mixture with the whisk attachment on high speed to stiff but not dry peaks. Continue beating until fluffy and cooled, 6 minutes.
Switch to the paddle attachment and beat on medium-low speed, adding the butter a bit at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla and then beat on low speed for about 2 minutes more, to reduce any air bubbles.
To assemble: with a 6-inch cake ring, cut rounds out of the cooled cake, one at the top left corner and one at the bottom right corner. Then cut two half circles as large as possible out of the scraps. Dab a bit of frosting onto the center of a 6-inch cake board, and place in the cake ring. Place the two semi circles in the ring, then fill in the gap in the middle with some of the remaining cake scraps. You want to pack it tight so it forms a sturdy base layer.
In a small bowl, mix together the milk and vanilla, then brush 1/3 of the mixture onto the cake layer. Spoon a layer of frosting over the soaked cake, then a few small spoonfuls of the jam. Top with the next cake layer and repeat. Top with remaining cake layer, brush on remaining milk soak, and then frost the cake as desired. You should have enough frosting to fully cover and do some fun piping if you want. Top with fresh blackberries and more sprinkles and enjoy!
When shopping for rainbow sprinkles, go with the bright, neon, artificially colored ones. This is not the time for natural sprinkles. Also? Check the ice cream aisle! You will probably find much bigger containers of sprinkles, and cheaper than the little vials sold in the baking aisle. But check both! I’ve found the same large tub of rainbow sprinkles in both aisles in the past.