Berries & Cream Cake

Berries & Cream Cake

I’m back again! And this time, I brought cake!

This cake has made an appearance here before, many moons ago. With an overturned bowl as a stand. And an awkward screened-in porch thing going on in the background. So let’s just forget about that post and focus on this new one, because I’ve made some improvements (to both the recipe and my prop/photo situation). It deserves another moment in the spotlight, because it’s stupid easy to make and de-freakin-licious.

Berries & Cream Cake

Berries & Cream Cake

blueberries

I fell in love with this cake ages ago, back when I was living in Albany, NY, spending my days chasing a shameful amount of office vending machine snacks with way too much coffee, and dating my now-ex M. My long Albany weeks were tempered by weekend trips to visit M’s Italian family downstate. Between holidays and Sunday dinners, I ate an insane amount of amazing food with that family. This cake included.

M’s father began making it not too long before we broke up, so I only had the chance to enjoy it a handful of times. The first time I tasted it, I was only trying it to be nice. He had described it as a “cheesecake,” which is not a favorite dessert of mine. I find it heavy and rich, and can usually enjoy only a bite or two before feeling nauseous. This version looked oddly unlike the dessert I was used to, but I figured it was just the hot mess of cheesecakes. Then I took a bite, and discovered it was nothing at all like a typical cheesecake. It was tangy-yet-light, with layers of cake and berries that somehow managed to remain visually distinct while blending together in perfect flavor harmony. This was my kind of cheesecake.

black raspberries

blueberries

Berries & Cream Cake

After M and I parted ways, I thought about this cake a lot. (I thought about all the food that family made a lot. I’ve discussed this before on several occasions, so I won’t make you listen to me obsess over mini sfogliatelle again. [But seriously, MINI SFOGLIATELLE, you guys. *insert emoji gushing streams of tears here*]) I considered contacting M a few times to ask for the recipe, but that email would have been an awkward one. So hi. I know we had a bit of a turbulent relationship that came to a rather unhappy one-sided end, wherein I beat a hasty retreat to VT. That’s been working out pretty great for me. How are you? P.S. Could you ask your dad for his awesome berry cheesecake recipe?!?

Lucky for me, I didn’t have to do that. (Though I might have if I wasn’t able to track down the recipe. It’s that worth it.) My only lead was that M’s dad had been really into Rachel Ray recipes right around the time that this cake made its first appearance. A little bit of internet searching led me here. It was almost certainly the cake. I made it. I tasted it. It was, indeed, THE CAKE. Life: better.

Berries & Cream Cake

Berries & Cream Cake

Berries & Cream Cake

Berries & Cream Cake

This cake is made up of layers of pound cake brushed with lemony glaze, fresh berries briefly cooked with berry preserves, and a mixture of whipped cream and barely sweetened cream cheese. I’ve made a few tweaks to the recipe over the years, swapping out the sugar in the glaze for raw honey, the cream cheese for Neufchâtel, and adding in a teeny bit of basil just for funsies. An overnight (or several hour, at least) rest in the fridge gives the layers and flavors time to get all sorts of friendly with each other. I opted to make the pound cake from scratch, but it’s just as good with a decent store-bought variety, and that means ZERO oven time (and only a tiny bit of stove top time). I’ve used blueberries and black raspberries for this version, but it works splendidly with a variety of berries. (Though I really am partial to the blueberries.) Basically, it’s the ultimate summer dessert. If you do one thing with berries besides stuffing them straight in your face this summer, pleasepleaseplease make this.

Berries & Cream Cake

Berries & Cream Cake

On another note, at the risk of sounding a bit like a sentimental weenie, I feel like I need to acknowledge how nice it is to be back here. I missed the lovely interactions I got to have with all of you guys, and was so happy to have so many sweet comments on my last post. But in my absence, I honestly forgot that I love making, photographing, and writing about food. I realized just how much I missed it when I was in the midst of shooting the cake yesterday afternoon, and it made me feel super warm and fuzzy. Me and the cake, we had a moment. Then I ate it for lunch.

Berries & Cream Cake

Berries & Cream Cake
(adapted from Rachel Ray)

serves: 8

Lemon-Honey Syrup

1/3 cup water
2 tbsp raw honey
1 lemon, zest and juice
10 basil leaves

The Cake

1/4 cup water
1 cup blueberry preserves
1 1/4 cup blueberries
3/4 cups black raspberries
8 oz. Neufchâtel cheese, softened
1/4 cup confectioners sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup heavy cream
a few basil leaves, minced
1 loaf of pound cake (approx. 9″ x 4″ x 4″), cut into 1/3-inch slices
lemon-honey syrup

Combine the water, honey, and lemon zest in a small sauce pan. Heat until the honey has completely dissolved into the water, then remove from heat. Muddle the basil and add it to the pan. Let sit for 20 minutes, then strain and stir in the lemon juice.

Combine the water, berries, and preserves in a sauce pan. Cook over medium heat until it begins to thicken (approximately 15 minutes). Remove from heat and let cool.

Beat together the Neufchâtel, confectioners sugar, and vanilla. In a separate bowl, whip the heavy cream to stiff peaks, then fold in the Neufchâtel mixture.

Arrange pound cake slices on the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan, cutting to fill in gaps where needed. Brush the pound cake layer with a healthy amount of the lemon-honey syrup. Spread half of the berry mixture on top of the pound cake and sprinkle with minced basil. Spread half of the whipped cream over top of the berry layer. Repeat with another layer of pound cake, lemon-honey syrup, remaining berry mixture, basil, and the rest of the whipped cream.

Cover cake with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 5 hours, or overnight. When ready to serve, run a knife around the inner edge of the pan. Release from the pan and top with fresh berries.

Berries & Cream Cake

Comments

  1. says

    love you! so happy to see you back with this life-is-right-cake that looks more than just ‘right’ – can i get an order of 10 slices? thanks.

    • carey says

      Thanks, Phi!! :) I would eat 10 slices of this cake if it was still in my house. I had to give 75% of it away immediately.

  2. says

    Wow. Just wow. This cake is gorgeous, and I love the sound of berries layered with whipped cream layered with pound cake.

    Also, for future reference, I think the key with a relationship like that is to steal all the family recipes BEFORE breaking up. Seriously, priorities. ;)

    • carey says

      Dude, right?!? Lesson: learned! Another one of my biggest food regrets is the fact that I was a vegetarian during that time. I started eating fish and eventually chicken too while I was still dating him, but never red meat. I was told that his one nonna made the best meatballs and meat sauce ever. I will never know! :`(

  3. says

    This. sounds. so. wonderful! And blueberries are just getting into season here. I love the few weeks we have fresh ones to play with! I dated a guy in college whose mom taught me how to use a pasta machine. She made chocolate pasta. With this raspberry cream sauce. It was so cray. And I really enjoyed it and I’d love to bust it out as a special occasion dessert, but now I’ll never be able to because I’ll think of that slimey guy.

    But girl. How can you not like cheesecake?! I thought I loved cheesecake, but then I made one at home and knew that I REALLY FREAKING LOVED cheesecake. I made the Joy of Cooking’s New York Style monstrosity, and it, like, had a crumb. The texture was unreal; so light and airy. But it was 5 inches tall and 10 inches around, so I haven’t had cheesecake since. This cake is a good reintroduction to cheesecake, I think… :)

    • carey says

      Yes! I will always think about you whenever I make blueberry things after The Year of ALL the Blueberries! And whoa whoa whoa dessert pasta. (I actually saw this dessert-ish pasta dish that was submitted to the Food52 best berries contest [which I entered this bad boy in—booya] that was basically salty ricotta ravioli with a blueberry sauce. I could totally get down with that.)

      I know, I almost feel bad disliking cheesecake so much. But you know what, I shouldn’t totally knock it until I’ve made it at home, because I bet it’s SO different from the ones I’ve tried throughout my life (which were probably far from gourmet).

    • carey says

      Yes! And I want to travel back in time to the west coast and hang out with you, Alanna, and Phi and make pistachio milk!!!

  4. says

    YAYY THIS CAKE! Dude, that was some serious sleuthing. I am so impressed. It definitely looks and sounds delicious enough to inspire that level of commitment — I loooove that mise shot of all the pound cake layers lined up in the pan! It makes me drool (in a kind of pleased-OCD kind of way? I don’t know.) I’m so so glad you enjoyed coming back to food photography!!! It needs you, lady. Love this so so much!

    • carey says

      Thanks, Cynthia!! Sometimes I try to imagine what my life would be like without the internet. I mean, it would be crazy different, but even just for something like this…what would I do?! Maybe go to a bookstore or library and pour over Rachel Ray cookbooks until I found the recipe? That would take like half a day, at least (and might not even be successful!). Oh how I love the sweet, sweet internet!

      I really liked piecing all those pound cake slices into that pan. (I also really like jigsaw puzzles.) It is definitely OCD-related. :)

  5. says

    I have been there with the whole ex boyfriend’s dad’s recipe thing! AWKWARD as hell. Your story had a much smoother ending then mine… And I’m still waiting for one of the recipes too. Oy vey. BUT THIS CAKE, it’s so gorgeous. I want to go berry picking now…

    • carey says

      Yes!!!! I remember reading a post of yours (I just did a little digging to remember exactly what it was — ex-boyfriend latkes!) that totally struck a this-recipe-is-worth-the-awkwardness chord with me. I hope that other recipe you’re waiting on is the meatless meatballs, and that you get it one day soon. I need those back in my life!

  6. says

    i can’t describe how much i relate to your cake story! i am glad you were able to track down the recipe and make this gorgeous cake! i too can’t get away from the bluebs this summer – they’re too good!

    it’s so lovely to have you back, carrie! can’t wait for future posts :))) xo

    • carey says

      Thank you, Lindsey! I have been going crazy for blueberries too. They (and all the berries, really) never seem to last long enough in our northeast summers!

  7. says

    Cake is always awesome but when it contains berries I love it even more. Recipes with a story are always the best ones, and I loved that you shared that potentially awkward do-I-really-have-to-ask-for-that-recipe-so-my-culinary-life-would-be-complete story. Also, it makes me super happy to hear you’re enjoying your time back here blogging and shooting and sharing all that with us readers :)

    • carey says

      Thanks, Sini! Recipes linked to memories/stories are definitely the best. (So true story: that was actually the cookbook idea I first pitched to my publisher when he asked me if I had any projects in mind/in the works. Basically I envisioned a collection of recipes and accompanying stories from various blogger friends and the like. I kind of threw it out there because I knew he’d never go for it [I’m pretty sure the contracts/payouts for edited collections are kind of a nightmare]. Ha! But hey, maybe one day…. I’d love to put together a book like that.)

  8. says

    oh hi. i just wanted to give you mad props for resisting the awkward email to the ex for the recipe, and instead using your own resources to find it. also, please tell me that this took you less than 30minutes to put together? :)

    PS. i am so very glad you’re back, your delightful presence was missed in my feed.

    • carey says

      Thanks, Lan! So if you’ve really got your mise en place groove going, this baby could probably come together in 30 minutes. They berry/preserves mixture has to cool down and that takes an annoying amount of time, but it’s smooth sailing after that. (I spent the cooling time slicing pound cake, then sneaking whipped cream onto pound cake ends with fresh berries.)

  9. says

    Yay!! This cake sounds AWESOME and I love these photos so much. It’s almost like a trifle disguised as a layer cake, only better because CHEESE. I can imagine the amazing texture that happens after the cake rests and melds altogether, and how torturous waiting for that to happen would be. Honey and basil and berries and cheese.. I’m all over this.

    Also mini homemade sfogliatelle?! I would be crying too! Those were my favorite discovery when I lived in Italy many moons ago. (Also rustici Leccesi – savory puffs of tomatoey bechamel in puff pastry.)

    I really missed your posts – welcome back lady! :)

    • carey says

      OmgWHAT. “Tomatoey bechamel in puff pastry” might be the most delicious combination of words I’ve ever read. Obv it has taken me forever to reply to comments because I’ve been in a rustici leccesi googling hole. ;) I’m only kind of kidding…

  10. says

    “Then I ate it for lunch.” <—- I mean you would have to! That's great! So glad you shared (re-shared) this recipe that's becoming a family heirloom of sorts. Man… if only all family recipes began with Rachael Ray? Where would this world be :) You really made it elegant and beautiful. Sounds so good! I just made cheesecake over the weekend…. I wish it would have had poundcake in it.

    • carey says

      Haha! I know right? I think it’s so funny that one of my favorite take-away dishes from that family is a Rachel Ray recipe. :P I managed to figure out how to make these much more legit-Italian pressed green tomatoes that M’s nonna always had, and also developed an obsession with anisette cookies. So there’s that!

  11. says

    Bahaha, good sleuthing indeed. I’m so into these no-bake tiramisu-y like desserts (right? kinda? subbing out ladyfingers for pound cake and berries for coffee… you kind of have to squint your eyes) that are a million and one times better than cheesecake. I’ve had a source for seriously good blueberries lately and I’ve been stuffing my face with them, so much so that I’m finally ready to DO something with them, so individual portions of this cake sound amaaazing!!!!

    Yay, so glad you’re back my dear!

    P.S. Saw your credit in the latest Eating Well! Whoo-hoo! Love the shot!

    • carey says

      Totally tiramisu-like! And YES TINY CAKES. I made these in ramekins one time when I had some leftover ingredients. I wish there was a way to take them out intact though, because that would be adorable. Possibly line the thing with plastic wrap first?

      Thanks, Linda!! :)

  12. Maria says

    I’m gonna make this cake tomorrow (there will be guests on Saturday, so I need to serve something). Just made a vanilla bean pound cake for it. I hope mine will taste the same way like yours, cuz yours looks so delicious! Thank you for the recipe :D

  13. says

    This cake looks amazing, I can not wait to try it!

    I am wondering if a lavendar honey syrup would be a good substitute for the lemon honey syrup? I love the combination of ground edible lavendar buds and blueberries, and believe that this syrup would be a delightful match for your cake.

  14. says

    I made this cake to bring to a dinner party. It was declared (by adults and the nearly 5 year old) to be “the best cake ever”. Thank you for this lovely little recipe!

Trackbacks

  1. […] what happens when you eat this much ice cream. Speaking of sweets, check out this exquisite berries and cream cake by Carey Nershi. Carey took a mini-break from her site Reclaiming Provincial for a few months, […]

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