happy berry to you – ‘american pie’ cake

happy berry to you – ‘american pie’ cake

Last week, rainbows—this week, only three colors.

Every year I think about not making a patriotic-hued dessert for Independence Day, but those three colors really do work well together. I love the colors, especially the blue.

Navy, royal, midnight blue are my favorite variations. While black is a great go-to color for playing dress up, a dark blue shirt in the right fabric adds depth and dimension. It’s easy to pick out a blue outfit—when it comes to food, however, the challenge is bigger.

In the last post, Rainbow Cubes blushed with multiple pigments with the help of food coloring. If I could achieve that palette without it, I would have, but Mother Nature has her own palette and interpretation.

With berries bursting at the markets this time of the year, who am I not to use them for a celebratory purpose? Raspberry and blueberry offer unique sweetness, while layers of sweet berries are balanced by the bright flavor of lemon in the mousse.

Pies are very American but cakes seems more apropo for celebration; so it’s obvious that I should married the two for the birthday of America. Having said that, if you are short on time, you can forego the pie crust and layer the berries and mousse into a trifle. Think of it as a firecracker instead of fireworks.

'American Pie' Cake


Pie Pastry
  • 1-1/4 cups (6-1/4 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 6 tablespoons (3 ounces/3/4 sticks) cold unsalted butter , cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • 1/4 cup chilled solid vegetable shortening , cut into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons vodka, cold
  • 2 tablespoons cold water
Blueberry Layer
  • 1-1/2 cups fresh blueberries, separated
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons powdered pectin (Sure-Jell)
  • 1 cup (7 ounces) granulated sugar
  • Pinch fine sea salt
Lemon Curd
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/4 cup (1-3/4 ounces) granulated sugar
  • Pinch fine sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream
Creamy Lemon Mousse
  • 1-1/4 teaspoons unflavored powdered gelatin
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • 12 ounces (1-1/2 package)cream cheese, cut into pieces and softened
  • 1/4 cup (1-3/4 ounces) granulated sugar
  • Pinch fine sea salt
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon limoncello (optional)
  • 1/2 cup lemon curd
Raspberry Layer
  • 9 ounces frozen raspberries (1-1/2 cups)
  • 3 tablespoons powdered pectin (Sure-Jell)
  • 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • Pinch fine sea salt
  • 1-1/2 cup fresh raspberries
  • 24 fresh raspberries (about 1-1/2 cups)
  • 24 fresh blueberries (about 1-1/2 cups)
  • Reserved lemon mousse


Pie Pastry

1. Process 3/4 cup flour, salt, and sugar in food processor until combined, about 2 one-second pulses. Add butter and shortening and process until homogenous dough just starts to collect in uneven clumps, about 15 seconds (dough will resemble cottage cheese curds and there should be no uncoated flour). Scrape bowl with rubber spatula and redistribute dough evenly around processor blade. Add remaining 1/2 cup flour and pulse until mixture is evenly distributed around bowl and mass of dough has been broken up, 4 to 6 quick pulses. Empty mixture into medium bowl.

2. Sprinkle vodka and water over mixture. With rubber spatula, use folding motion to mix, pressing down on dough until dough is slightly tacky and sticks together. Flatten dough into 4-inch disk, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 45 minutes or up to 2 days.

3. Adjust oven rack to middle positions and heat oven to 375℉. Roll refrigerated disc of dough on lightly floured work surface to 12-inch disk. Transfer dough to a 7-inch (2-inch high) ring on a silpat lined baking sheet. Ease dough into pan by gently lifting dough edges with one hand while pressing around pan bottom with other hand. Allow excess to drape over edge. Chill in freezer for 15 minutes.

4. Remove prepared crust from freezer, press parchment inside dough shell; evenly distribute ceramic pie weights over parchment. Bake for 20 minutes. Carefully remove parchment and weights, continue baking until deep golden brown, about 15 minutes more. Transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

5. Using a sharp pairing knife, carefully trim around the edge of the ring to get a clean top edge. Set aside

Blueberry Layer

1. Cook 1 cup of  berries and water in medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until berries begin to give up their juice, about 3-4 minutes. Stir in pectin and bring to full boil, stirring constantly. Stir in sugar and salt and return to full boil. Cook, stirring constantly, until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes.

2. Gently fold in remaining 1/2 cup of blueberries into puree. Spread fruit mixture evenly over bottom of pie shell and set aside.

Lemon Curd

Note: you will only need a portion of this to make the mousse

1. Whisk egg, egg yolk, sugar, and salt together in small saucepan. Add lemon juice and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until thick and pudding-like, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in butter and heavy cream. Press through fine-mesh strainer into small bowl, cover and refrigerate until needed. (You will not use all the curd for this recipe)

Creamy Lemon Mousse

1. Combine lemon juice and gelatin in small bowl and let stand until gelatin softens, about 5 minutes. Microwave until mixture is bubbling around edges and gelatin dissolves, about 20 seconds. Set aside.

2. Add cream cheese, sugar, and salt  to the mixing bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed until smooth and creamy, scraping down sides of bowl, about 2 minutes. With machine running, slowly add cream and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add gelatin mixture, limoncello (if use) and 1/2 cup of lemon curd, increase speed to medium-high, and beat until smooth and airy, about 3 minutes.

3. Spread 1 cup of mousse over blueberry layer, smooth with off-set spatula. Refrigerated both cake and remaining mousse until needed.

Raspberry Layer

1. Cook frozen berries in medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until berries begin to give up their juice, about 3 minutes. Stir in pectin and bring to full boil, stirring constantly. Stir in sugar and salt and return to full boil. Cook, stirring constantly, until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Pour through fine-mesh strainer into medium bowl, pressing on solids to extract as much puree as possible. Gently fold fresh raspberries into remaining puree.

2. Remove cake from refrigerator and spread raspberry mixture over the mousse layer. Smooth with off-set spatula. It should level with the top edge of the crust.


1. Stir lemon mousse to get a smooth consistency. Place mousse into a piping bag fitted with a 1/2-inch round tip.

2. Place raspberries and blueberries in rows with lemon mousse piped in between. (See photos)

3. With a large metal spatula, lift cake and place it on cake stand or a serving platter; lift ring gentle and serve.

Note: You’ll need a total of  3 cups each of fresh raspberries and blueberries for the entire recipe.