Berry Blitz Torte Bakealong: challenge #10

bakealong-logo Welcome to our May Bakealong challenge. Each month, we’ll announce a new recipe for you to try, along with helpful tips and step-by-step instructions here on our blog. We invite you to bake this month’s recipe, Berry Blitz Torte, then share a photo of your creation, tagging it #bakealong. Enjoy!

May means graduations. And wedding showers. Throw the potential for birthday celebrations in there, and you’ve got all kinds of reasons to bake a cake. Or multiple cakes, if you’re the designated family cake baker.

Most of us have a go-to cake recipe, one we religiously bake for one party or gathering after another. Maybe it’s a chocolate layer cake, like our Favorite Fudge Birthday Cake. Or perhaps a simple pound cake, such as our Lemon Bliss Cake.

Berry Blitz Torte Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

For me, that signature cake is Berry Blitz Torte. A wonderful mix of tender cake, delicately crunchy topping, and creamy filling layered with fresh berries, it’s a visual stunner with flavor to match.

Best part? Well, aside from all of the above — it’s easier to make than it looks. There’s no need to set aside hours of time, nor polish up your pastry skills; this cake is reachable by any baker, I promise.

Take the #bakealong challenge and make your best elegant-yet-easy celebration cake ever! Click To Tweet

Berry Blitz Torte Bakealong: start with the filling

We’ll start by making the filling, since it has to chill before you use it.

Gather your pastry cream filling ingredients:

2 1/2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup cornstarch
3 large egg yolks
1 large whole egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

In a medium-sized saucepan, stir together 2 cups of the milk, the sugar, and the salt. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar.

Berry Blitz Torte Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Meanwhile, whisk the cornstarch, egg yolks, and whole egg with the remaining 1/2 cup milk.

Whisk some of the hot milk mixture into the egg yolks/cornstarch to temper the yolks. This keeps them from coagulating when you add them to the simmering milk.

Pour the egg/milk mixture back into the remaining simmering milk, pouring it through a strainer (if necessary) to capture any bits of egg.

Bring to a boil over medium heat (this may happen very quickly), stirring constantly with a whisk. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly; the mixture will thicken significantly.

Remove from the heat, and stir in the vanilla extract.

Berry Blitz Torte Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Transfer the filling to a heatproof storage container, and top it with a piece of buttered plastic wrap, waxed paper, or parchment (make sure it touches the top of the filling so it doesn’t develop a skin). Refrigerate until cool, or for up to several days.

Pssst! Here’s a tasty pastry cream shortcut, and one I take all the time: Mix 1 small box instant vanilla pudding mix with 2 teaspoons vanilla extract and 1 3/4 cups light cream (rich) or heavy cream (ultra-rich) until thick. Refrigerate until ready to use. 

Berry Blitz Torte Bakealong: make the batter

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Berry Blitz Torte Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Lightly grease two 8″ round cake pans. Or lightly grease the pans, line with parchment rounds, and lightly grease the parchment as well.

Gather your cake ingredients:

1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 large egg yolks (save the whites for the topping)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup (4 1/4 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, beat together the butter, sugar, salt, and egg yolks until well combined.

Berry Blitz Torte Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

See the streaks of unincorporated butter/sugar scraped from the wall of the bowl, at left? This is why it’s important to scrape the bowl and beat again.

Scrape the bowl, and beat briefly to incorporate any sticky residue.

Berry Blitz Torte Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Beat in the vanilla, milk, baking powder, and flour; the batter will be stiff.

Berry Blitz Torte Bakealong via @kingarthurflourBerry Blitz Torte Bakealong via @kingarthurflourSpread the batter into the prepared pans (it will barely cover the bottom of the pans; that’s OK). Using a scale to divide the batter in half is a help here.

Berry Blitz Torte Bakealong: top the cake

Gather your topping ingredients:

4 large egg whites (reserved from the cake ingredients above)
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup sliced or slivered almonds
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon*
1 tablespoon sugar*

*Substitute prepared cinnamon-sugar, if desired.

Berry Blitz Torte Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Using an electric mixer or stand mixer with a whisk attachment, beat the egg whites until foamy.

Berry Blitz Torte Bakealong via @kingarthurflourGradually add the 3/4 cup sugar and continue to beat until the meringue is smooth, glossy, and somewhat stiff (but not stiff enough to form rigid stand-up points).

Berry Blitz Torte Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Spread the meringue on the cake batter.

Berry Blitz Torte Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Berry Blitz Torte Bakealong via @kingarthurflourSprinkle the almonds over the meringue. Mix the cinnamon with the sugar, and dust on top.

Notice I did this in reverse order; live and learn! Sprinkling the almonds over the meringue first, before the cinnamon-sugar, helps keep them from falling off when you turn the cakes out of the pan. Do as I say, etc.

Berry Blitz Torte Bakealong via @kingarthurflourBerry Blitz Torte Bakealong: baking the cake

Bake the cakes for 30 minutes, until the almonds are lightly browned. They’ll puff up significantly; don’t worry, they’ll settle as they cool.

Berry Blitz Torte Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Remove the cakes from the oven, and allow them to cool for 15 minutes. Carefully and thoroughly loosen the edge of each cake.

Berry Blitz Torte Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Gently turn the cakes out onto a rack to cool completely.

Berry Blitz Torte Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

The best way to do this is to drape a piece of parchment or waxed paper across the top of the pan, then place a flat object (a giant spatula, a small baking sheet) atop the paper, and turn everything over.

Lift the cake pan off the cake, then place a cooling rack against the bottom of the cake. Turn everything back over again, so the rack is on the bottom. Some of the almonds will fall off during this process; just sprinkle them back on top.

When you’re ready to finish the cake, remove the pastry cream from the refrigerator.

Berry Blitz Torte Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Wash and dry 1 1/2 to 2 cups fresh berries.

Can you use frozen? Of course, if you must; but they’ll make the filling watery and streak it with juice.

Berry Blitz Torte Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Stir the pastry cream gently, just to loosen it up enough to spread; stirring too vigorously can break it down and turn it watery. It’ll probably have a few lumps; that’s OK.

For slightly richer filling with greater volume, whip 1/2 cup heavy cream to stiff peaks, and gently fold it into the pastry cream. Again, don’t beat the pastry cream; it’ll be a bit lumpy, but that won’t affect the taste.

Berry Blitz Torte Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

This filling doesn’t include the optional whipped cream; to make a cake that looks like the picture at the top of this post, add the whipped cream.

Berry Blitz Torte Bakealong: final assembly

Place one of the cake layers, meringue side up, on a serving plate. Spread with the filling.

Berry Blitz Torte Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Add the fresh berries.

Berry Blitz Torte Bakealong via @kingarthurflourTop with the second cake layer, meringue-side up.

Berry Blitz Torte Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Serve immediately; or refrigerate covered, until ready to serve. It should stay good in the fridge for a day or so.

Dense, buttery cake; delicately crunchy cinnamon meringue; rich, creamy filling, and fresh berries — irresistible! How much do I value this recipe? I make it every year for my mom’s birthday, May 1. And since she’s somewhere north of age 90, that’s a lot of Berry Blitz Tortes!

Baking gluten-free?

Make this cake with our Gluten-Free Measure for Measure Flour, following the recipe as written; no changes beyond this simple substitution are necessary.

High-altitude adjustments

Do you live high on a mountainside? Check out our high-altitude baking tips.

Are you ready to take the Berry Blitz Torte Bakealong challenge? Follow this post on your tablet or laptop, or print the recipe. And when you’re done, remember to post your stunning photos, tagged #bakealong. We’re looking forward to sharing your success.

PJ Hamel
About

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, two dogs, and really good food!

comments

  1. Sonia V

    This looks delicious! It reminds me of a hazelnut dacquoise-hazelnut genoise cake I made for my mother’s 50th birthday. I hope I can find an excuse to make this one sometime soon….

    Reply
  2. Denise

    OMG. This looks delicious and I have all the ingredients sitting here as long as I use strawberries.

    Reply
  3. Heike

    Hello,
    here in Germany this kind of torte is called “Swimmingpool Torte”.
    We fill it with whipped cream with some vanilla an fruit.
    We like the torte with fresh strawberries, canned gooseberries, fresh raspberries, canned plums or canned tangerines. etc.
    If you use canned fruit you can use some cornstarch and a little bit of sugar to thicken the syrup.
    At first you put the fruit on the cake and then the whipped cream. Top it with the last piece of cake. Maybe omit the cinnamon.
    I love the torte the most with fresh fruits and canned gooseberries.
    I love your site!
    Best regards and greetings from Germany
    Heike

    Reply
  4. Barbara MACEY

    PJ,
    I’ve been searching for a special something for my birthday & Mother’s Day celebrations, (they are on the same day this year). This will be so perfect, my family & I enjoy fresh berries so much & this will be a bonus.

    Thank You ever so much for this timely post.

    Reply
    1. Jerilyn

      Agree, I have made Kvæfjordkake several times (without the berries). Delicious!

  5. Fran Silverman

    Is there anything we can do to reduce the possibility of lumps in the pastry cream. For example, would putting the cornstarch through a sieve help to prevent lumps?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Good question, Fran. The best thing you can do is be extra careful when tempering your egg mixture; slowly add some of the hot milk into the egg yolk/cornstarch mixture while whisking the whole time. Lumps form when the heat isn’t distributed evenly and some of the egg mixture cooks. Alas, a few lumps is a very normal occurrence when making homemade pastry cream, which is why we recommend pouring the mixture through a sieve before chilling. This will catch any of the coagulated eggs and ensure a silky smooth texture. Happy baking! Kye@KAF

  6. Debra

    I am lactose intolerant. I make this with lactose free milk in the cake and instant pudding mixed with half as much milk as the box calls for. Everyone loves it and I can have some too.

    Reply
  7. Jenny

    Hello from Australia
    What is the weight of a small box of vanilla pudding mix please. Our packaging sizes are different to yours. Many thanks
    Jenny

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Thanks for baking with us from afar, Jenny! A small box of instant vanilla pudding mix is generally about 3.4 oz (or 96 grams). Mollie@KAF

  8. Lee Nelson

    My first impulse is to say “hell no!”, but I’ve started to trust you guys. It looks really complicated, but I trust you. So, I’m going to give it a try next week.

    I trust you: I believe you wouldn’t put a recipe in the bake-a-long that needs a professional pastry degree.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      We appreciate the trust, Lee, and we promise that this looks much harder than it is. That’s one of the reasons we love it – all of the glory of a difficult recipe without the excessive work. Enjoy! Mollie@KAF

    2. Christopher Smith

      I said that when they had the kringle last year but, as always, it turned out great.

  9. Sharon

    I am new to the site and I will try this recipe because it looks so wonderful. You mentioned posting a picture of the completed project but where do I upload the picture. This information will help newbies like me in the future.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Thanks for joining us, Sharon! There is no way to upload a picture to our site, but we’d love to see your bake. We ask that you either post a photo to our Facebook page or use #bakealong when posting on Instagram or Twitter. Most of all, though, we hope you have the opportunity to share the real stuff with someone(s) special. Happy baking! Mollie@KAF

  10. CC

    I can’t wait to try this! What other berries will work? Unfortunately raspberries and blueberries aren’t available here! Thank you.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Feel free to use any berry you like! Strawberries are also delicious, and you should feel free to experiment with another alternative that’s not too wet. As we caution in the article itself, you can also use frozen fruit “if you must; but they’ll make the filling watery and streak it with juice.” Mollie@KAF

  11. Jaime

    Made this tonight for a dinner tomorrow. Hardest part was separating the eggs and getting the cakes out of the pan. Mine look a little less rustic than the pics above (outer edges are more raised than inside). Can’t wait to try it. Used fresh sliced strawberries and chopped my own almonds for the topping. Smells great. I’m sure it will be amazing!

    Reply
  12. Rasa

    I made this cake for Easter…was a huge hit. I used the easy pastry cream – instant pudding mix and cream whipped. The only thing I would do next time is to bake the cake on the day served. I baked the cake layers day before; added berries and pastry cream an hour before serving. Will be making this again soon!

    Reply
  13. Michele

    Do you know the weight of the batter for the cake portion? I’d like to weigh the batter into each pan for accuracy. And wish me luck, I will make this for my mother-in-laws birthday!

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Michele, the cake batter should weigh around 15 ounces (perhaps a little more based on your egg yolks), which means about 7 1/2 ounces should go into each pan. The easiest way to be precise is to make your batter, tare your scale, and dump all the batter into one pan to get the total weight. Divide that number in half and then add batter to the second cake pan until you have exactly half. Happy baking! Kye@KAF

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Sue, the best way to make this cake ahead of time is to make the components up to 3 to 4 days ahead and stored separately. Cakes should be wrapped in plastic and left at room temperature; pastry cream in the fridge with plastic touching the top to prevent a skin from forming (up to one week). Assemble the torte on the day it will be served if possible. A pre-assembled cake will last for 2-3 days in the fridge; the meringue softens slightly and filling may weep slightly, but still good flavor. Use whole berries (blueberries, raspberries) rather than sliced strawberries if making the cake ahead of time. Happy baking! Kye@KAF

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Lizzy, if your 8″ pan is at least 2″ deep, then you’ll want to use those to make nice, tall layers. Otherwise you can certainly use the 9″ pan knowing that the final presentation of the cake will be a bit shorter than what’s shown in the photos here. The good news? Both will taste delicious! Kye@KAF

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      This recipe isn’t well-suited to being made into cupcakes, Dinah. It’s very delicate and would likely fall apart if made as individual cupcakes. However, we do have a recipe for Berry Cream Whoopie Pies, which are similar in the sense that they’re two tasty cakes that sandwich a cream filling and fresh berries. We hope that recipes gives you some options. Happy baking! Kye@KAF

  14. Nancy

    Can I use coconut milk for lactose intolerant? Also could I substitute arrowroot for cornstarch? What would the measure be!!! I can’t wait to make this!!!

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Good question, Nancy! While we have done some testing with using arrowroot in place of cornstarch, the world of dairy-free pastry cream has not been explored in our test kitchen thus far. Our helpful R&D team suggested using soy milk instead of coconut milk since soy has some additional protein that might help bind the filling and keep it set. You also could consider using 2 whole eggs and 2 egg yolks, as the protein in the whites will also add support. Like we mentioned, you’ll be experimenting as we haven’t tried these things before, but if you give it a shot let us know how it turns out! Kye@KAF

  15. Lis

    Made it today and posted about it at tomatothymes.blogspot.com/?m=0
    It really was a breeze. Taking it to a birthday lunch tomorrow.

    Reply
    1. Lis

      Family just had to have some this evening and loved it. So the birthday cake will be partially served when we have it tomorrow. Oh well the birthday is among closets friends. My photos aren’t that great at tomatothymes.blogspot.com but it tastes wonderful.

    2. The Baker's Hotline

      Thanks for diving right into this month’s challenge, Lis, and for sharing all about it on your blog. We thoroughly enjoyed your pics 🙂 Mollie@KAF

  16. Gretchen

    Some of my family do not like raspberries. Would strawberries work for this cake or would they make the filling too watery?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      We’ve made it with strawberries, Gretchen, and it’s just as delicious! Mollie@KAF

  17. Lis

    Well the birthday folks today loved the cake at our luncheon. When I make it again, I may add a little lemon juice to the filling and use blueberries as the fruit. Or minced pineapple would be great as the fruit. Too many ideas!!! I can hardly wait for June’s recipe.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      You’ll be taking a bit of a risk if you use your 8″ shallow pans to make this recipe, as the meringue can rise quite high while it bakes. If you have 9″ cake pans, then you might want to consider using those to bake the cakes instead. Your final cake will be a bit shorter than those made in 8″ pans, but it will still look beautiful and taste delicious. (If you do decide to go with the 8″ pan, be sure you put the cake pans on a baking sheet before going in the oven to catch any potential overflow.) Happy baking! Kye@KAF

  18. Christopher Smith

    I’ve seen this elsewhere for souffles, and maybe the good folks at King Arthur will confirm but you could use a 2″ wide strip(s) of parchment paper to extend the height of your pans.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      For this recipe, you can use parchment paper strips to extend the height of you pan as the meringue is light and not unwieldy. We’re wary of recommending this for all souffle recipes, as it depends on the batter and the height of your pan. If you need just a little bit of additional height (an inch or two) then you’ll probably be just fine to use a high-quality parchment paper. Happy baking! Kye@KAF

  19. Christina Alvarez-Perry

    Baked this yesterday – highly recommend the recipe and it makes a beautiful (and delicious) cake. I used the easy filling which was good though I wish I had the time to make true pastry cream.

    Reply
  20. Gail Solstad

    So anxious to make this beautiful cake. One question … doesn’t the meringue crack and crumble off when the cake is turned out of the pan? I’m trying to visualize how that will work. Thanks.

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      Gail, the meringue does crack and crumble a bit, but it’s mostly still pliable enough, when warm, to stick to the cake. I make sure, when I turn it upside down out of the pan, that I put something solid over the top of the cake pan — a larger pan or a giant spatula, for instance. I illustrate this in the post. Some nuts and a bit of meringue might fall off, but I just sprinkle them back on and no one’s the wiser! Enjoy the cake — it’s really one of my favorites. Just made it for my mom’s 91st birthday. 🙂 PJH

  21. Lydia

    Made this foe my twins’ violin recital reception. It tasted amazing and more than one person came up to me to say how great it was. This is definitely a keeper! (Easy to make, easy to assemble…)

    Reply
  22. Joy

    My daughter and I made it as our mother’s day activity. I would like to post the picture, but I have no idea how. I put it on FB with the hashtag, but I don’t see it here.

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      Joy, someday we hope to be able to offer the capability of posting photos right to these blog comments; we just haven’t gotten there yet. It sounds like you successfully posted to Facebook, though – thanks! Glad you enjoyed the cake. PJH

  23. Eric

    Can I use springform pans instead? It seems it would be easier to get the cake out. (plus I don’t have deep cake pans.)

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      If your springform pans are tight-fitting (meaning no batter will leak out), then yes! They’ll be perfect for the job. Happy baking! Kye@KAF

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Dvorah, while we haven’t tried this in the test kitchen for ourselves, it should work. You can use this ratio to replace the egg whites: 1 Tablespoon Meringue Powder + 5 teaspoons water = 1 egg white (It is worth mentioning that the cake calls for 4 egg yolks, so it typically makes sense to then use the whites in the meringue. However, you’re welcome to use meringue powder if that makes most sense for your needs.) Happy baking! Kye@KAF

  24. Judith Anne Lang

    I made this yesterday for our Bunko group. It was easy enough to make and assemble, however, I found that there was so much custard it bulged out of the sides and cutting it was a nightmare! It would not hold its shape even though I used a serrated knife. I teased that I should have just put it in a bowl and given everyone a spoon. They loved the dessert, but I don’t think I’ll make it again.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Most of all, we’re glad the group enjoyed the cake, but we’re sorry to hear about the trouble cutting the torte. It sounds like your filling might have needed to be just a bit thicker to hold up to cutting. When we run into this trouble with any cake, it can sometimes help to briefly chill it, which allows it to set a bit more before continuing to cut. Scoring the top of the cake before filling can also help to prep a delicate cake for cutting. Mollie@KAF

  25. Sharon Cerasoli

    Very excited to try this!! We have a restaurant in Rochester NY where they have the MOST incredible desserts, with their Viennese Meringue Strawberry Torte being everyone’s fave. This looks like an almost duplicate…..with the exception that they use a vanilla sponge for the cake and actually weigh down the meringue when cool so it cracks. Can’t wait to try this and experiment….thank you!!!

    Reply
  26. Jennifer Tarr

    Any chance you would resize this recipe to accommodate 9-inch cake pans, please? I have 8-inch pans, but definitely prefer the finished size of a 9-inch cake for serving company. (And I don’t want to skimp on the overall height!) Thanks.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Thanks for your request, Jennifer. We originally wrote the recipe for either 8″ or 9″ pans, but we really preferred the higher cake achieved with the 8″ pans and so took out the 9″ option. A 9″ pan holds about 1/3 more volume than an 8″ pan, so if you’re interested in scaling up the recipe, you could simply increase the cake portion by 1/3. The meringue, filling and topping should all be fine as is. Hope this helps get you headed in the right direction! Mollie@KAF

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