This small, berry-topped layer cake actually represents a lot to me. I made it for a photo shoot of me in my kitchen. I hired a professional photographer, Emilie Iggiotti, to photograph me for the redesign. Emilie took all the recent photos of me that you see on this site. She photographed me doing what I do best: frosting a layer cake. This cake is simple, and it’s the cake that I always wanted to make, but somehow never get around to. So, I took this opportunity and made this cake for the photo shoot, without a blog post in mind. But then, when the last pictures of me were taken and Emilie was gone, I realized that I needed to blog about this cake, even if I hadn’t planned it that way. This cake represents a small, out-of-the-ordinary moment in my life and one that I’d like to remember. When was the last time you invited somebody into your kitchen to photograph you at work?
I actually put off scheduling the photo shoot for months even though I knew I needed professional photos of me (as opposed to the awesome pics taken by friends where I’m dressed in pyjamas and drinking a fishbowl daiquiri). The thing that scared me the most about the photo shoot, besides the idea of being photographed for an entire hour, was the cake part because it was “on camera.” Let’s face it. I am shy and I don’t usually make cakes in front of anybody. I worried that I might seem awkward or come off unprofessional as I assembled this cake. Turns out that in the moment, you are thinking about a million other things (like how to smile without look like a possessed, crazy person, or how to avoid the dreaded double chin), and not the task of frosting. Plus, frosting a cake is pretty relaxing, if you ask me.I love layer cakes, and to me, this is the perfect cake: alternating layers of moist chocolate cake and cream cheese frosting, then topped with a mountain of berries. The cake layers are chocolaty, and the frosting tastes like cheesecake. Together, they are made even better paired with slightly tart, fresh berries. The chocolate cake recipe is that eggless chocolate cake recipe I’ve blogged about before. As for the cream cheese frosting (taken from the beautiful book Miette: Recipes from San Francisco’s Most Charming Pastry Shop), I cannot stress enough how important it is to start by beating together the butter with the icing sugar, and then adding in the cream cheese after. Otherwise, you will end up with a soupy mess. Trust me, but if you want to know why, check out this post about how you mix frosting makes a huge difference. This cream cheese frosting also tastes great on a poppy seed cardamom cake with cranberries.
Don’t forget, I’m hosting a Stirling Creamery butter giveaway, open to Canadians. If you haven’t entered yet, be sure to check it out and enter here! Giveaway now closed.
Berry chocolate cake recipe
Berry chocolate cake
This berry chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting is made from an eggless chocolate cake recipe.
Chocolate cake ingredients
- 185 grams all-purpose flour
- 7 grams baking soda
- 37 grams cocoa powder
- 1 gram salt
- 1 tbsp white vinegar
- ¾ tsp vanilla extract
- 250 mL skim milk 1 cup
- 50 mL canola oil
- 225 grams light brown sugar
Cream cheese frosting ingredients
- 156 grams icing sugar
- 156 grams Stirling Creamery unsalted butter room temperature
- 454 grams cream cheese this is a little less than 2 blocks of Philadelphia cream cheese
- 1 package of fresh strawberries
- 1 pint of raspberries
- 1 pint of blueberries
For the cake:
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Prepare a 3-inch deep 6-inch cake pan (I used a pan from Wilton available on Amazon) by brushing the bottom and sides with melted butter and dusting it with cocoa, then lining the bottom with a round of parchment. Set aside.
- Sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, and cocoa into a medium bowl and set it aside.
- Add the vinegar and vanilla to the milk in the cup measurer, stir, and let it stand for a few minutes.
- Whisk together the oil and brown sugar in a medium bowl.
- Add the sifted dry ingredients alternately with the vinegar milk, and stir til it is combined.
- Pour the batter in the prepared pan and bake it until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean (about 60 minutes but keep an eye on it after 45 minutes).
For the frosting
- The order of these steps is very important! First, in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the icing sugar and butter until it is smooth.
- Then, when the butter and sugar are nice and smooth, add in the cream cheese, and beat until you get a creamy, fluffy frosting, for at least 2 to 3 minutes, if not more.
- Trim the cake and split it into 3 even layers with a large, serrated bread knife.
Place the bottom layer on a cake Wilton turntable (find it on Amazon), and smooth on about 1/4 of the frosting. Top with the second layer of cake, frost, and repeat with the third layer. Smooth the last of the frosting on the sides and top of the cake.
- Top the cake with a tall mound of the berries.
I do my best to bake with the finest ingredients. Stirling Creamery, a Canadian company, has provided the butter for this post.
Janice Lawandi is chemist-turned-baker, working as a recipe developer in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. She studied pastry at Le Cordon Bleu in Ottawa and cooking at l’Académie Culinaire. She has a BSc in Biochemistry from Concordia University and a PhD in Chemistry from McGill University.