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The Perfect Blueberry Cake

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My best girlfriend just returned from a tour in Afghanistan. She’s a civilian and was working for the military in Kabul—long story. Unlucky (lucky?) for her, she was stuck in cargo pants and trailers full of men for six months.

She got back to D.C. three weeks ago, moved into a fab apartment, unpacked her storage unit, and immediately started cooking. It’s like the need to bake was bottled up in her since December.

Photo credit: Becca Clara Love
Photo credit: Becca Clara Love

Personally, I’m A-OK with this, because it means I get to be her guinea pig. Case in point: the amazing meal she prepared for a dinner party a few weeks ago. I was in heaven. Here’s how it went …

We started with a salad of mixed greens with toasted walnuts and warm breaded goat cheese rounds on top (topped with homemade dressing), which honestly could be a meal unto itself. The entrees were broiled salmon steaks topped with a cold avocado and lime mix – so delish – with Israeli couscous on the side. And then, there was the Perfect Blueberry Cake.

Here are her secrets …

Photo credit: Becca Clara Love
Photo credit: Becca Clara Love

Goat Cheese Salad with Homemade Dressing

  • Salad: Mixed greens, toasted walnuts, chopped pears
  • Goat Cheese rounds dipped in an egg wash, breaded, and warmed on the stove top
  • Dressing: Mix dijon, white wine vinegar, walnut oil, and salt and pepper
Photo credit: Becca Clara Love
Photo credit: Becca Clara Love

Broiled Salmon with Avocado and Lime

  • 2 6- to 7-ounce salmon fillets with skin (each about 1 inch thick)
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • ½ lime
  • 1 firm but ripe avocado, halved, pitted, peeled, diced
  • 1 bunch fresh chives, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

Rub salmon with 1 tablespoon oil. Squeeze lime over. Let stand while preparing sauce.

Combine avocado, remaining 4 tablespoons oil, chives, and 1 tablespoon lime juice in small bowl. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper.

Preheat broiler. Line broiler tray with foil. Arrange salmon, skin side down, on foil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Broil without turning until just opaque in center, about nine minutes. Transfer to plates. Spoon avocado sauce over and serve.

Photo credit: Becca Clara Love
Photo credit: Becca Clara Love

Israeli Couscous

Toast the cous cous in some olive oil. Add two cups chicken stock. Add salt and pepper, paprika, tumeric. Simmer until tender.

Photo credit: Becca Clara Love
Photo credit: Becca Clara Love

The Perfect Blueberry Cake

  • 3 1/3 cups cake flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon (packed) grated lemon peel
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk
  • 2 ½ cups fresh blueberries

Frosting

  • 11 ounces high-quality white chocolate (such as Lindt or Perugina), finely chopped
  • 12 ounces Philadelphia brand cream cheese, room temperature
  • ¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • Additional blueberries (optional)

For cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour two 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 2-inch-high sides, line bottoms with parchment paper rounds.

Sift flour and next three ingredients into medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until light and fluffy. Gradually add sugar, beating until well blended after each addition. Beat in flour mixture in 4 additions alternately with buttermilk in 3 additions. Fold in berries.

Transfer batter to pans. Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Cool cakes in pans on racks.

Photo credit: Becca Clara Love
Photo credit: Becca Clara Love

For frosting: Stir white chocolate in top of double boiler set over barely simmering water until almost melted. Remove from over water and stir until smooth. Cook to lukewarm. Beat cream cheese and butter in large bowl until combined. Beat in lemon juice, then cooled white chocolate.

Turn cakes out onto work surface. Peel off parchment. Place 1 cake layer, flat side up, on platter. Spread top with 1 cup frosting. Top with second cake layer, flat side down. Spread remaining frosting over sides and top of cake. Garnish with additional blueberries, if desired. This can be prepared a day ahead, just cover it with a cake dome and stick it in the fridge. Let it stand at room temperature an hour before serving.

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