Cake Garden

I made this cake for a friend and coworker’s husband, who’s birthday was this week. Her requirements: “lots of fruit and something with a lot of frosting!” Those things, I can do.

We opted for vanilla cake with fruit preserves between the layers, and lots of vanilla buttercream. I found the cutest organic strawberries from our local co-op – just really the perfect size to sit next to blackberries. When I stepped back and looked at this cake, I thought, “Wow, wouldn’t it be great to pluck berries straight from the garden?”



One or two recipes of your favorite yellow cake. I use Isa’s vegan yellow cake – it’s my favorite for many things. I doubled this recipe for two 8″ cakes.

Italian Buttercream

300 g granulated sugar

150 g egg whites

dash each of cream of tartar (COT), and salt

75 g granulated sugar

453 g (1 lb) butter

2 tsp vanilla extract, or insides of one vanilla pod

Put the 300 g of sugar in a saucepan and add enough water so all of the sugar is wet. Clean off the sides of the pan, so that sugar doesn’t crystallize, causing the whole thing to be a huge mess. Put on medium-high heat with a thermometer and cook to 245F.

While the sugar is cooking, slowly beat the egg whites, COT, and salt – adding the 75 g of sugar slowly. Beat until you have medium-stiff peaks.

Pour the hot sugar into your medium-stiff egg whites VERY SLOWLY and with the mixer at a VERY LOW speed. You don’t want hot sugar flying everywhere, TRUST ME. Once all of the sugar syrup is added, crank up the mixer speed and let it go until the bowl is cool to the touch.

Add in the butter in 1 tbsp pieces, fairly slowly. Beat with the whisk attachment until it’s all added, switch to the paddle and add in the vanilla. You can’t over-beat buttercream, so do at least 7 minutes, and go from there.


Cut each layer of cake  in half, so you have four layers of cake. Splash your favorite fruit preserve between each layer – I used raspberry and strawberry. I think black currant or cherry would be great, too. Give your cake a crumb coat, let it cool in the fridge for 30 minutes, then give it a second, final coat. Add lots of fresh fruit on top – make it look like you just plucked it from the garden!


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