The March/April 2023 Bake from Scratch magazine was full of good ideas this time (though it always is!)….my next attempted cake for afternoon tea was from one of the featured bakers, Caroline’s Cakes in Spartanburg, South Carolina, and her Blackberry Lime Cake.

I made the cake batter basically according to the original recipe in the magazine – though I cut the amounts for it, the buttercream and the coulis in half – the original made a LOT of cake! Which makes sense, as it was a four-layered cake. However, my cake form of choice was not 9-inch rounds, but my go-to mini-cake pan, the Norpro mini cheesecake pan, which makes individual mini-cakes just the perfect size for afternoon tea, 1.5 inches deep and 2 inches across. I really need to get myself a second one, as I use it all the time, and the baking process just takes longer with just one of them!

This cake batter is like a three-parter – the dry ingredients, wet ingredients, and a mixture of whole milk and lime juice that curdles a little. All gets mixed together in parts, for a nice thick batter.

I filled the wells in my tin about 3/4 full, and they rose to just a bit over the top. However, because I wanted at least three layers with two fillings, I think it was okay to be just a little over. Definitely try to tamp down the batter a little and smooth the top (which I didn’t do really well the first time)…it’s a fairly delicate cake when baked that was a little crumbly in this size form.

I’m a huge fan of tipless piping bags for making layer cakes, especially in cakes this small – it’s just so much quicker and easier to manage than trying to use a knife or offset spatula.

Also for cakes this delicate and small, I froze them overnight, then cut them while they were still frozen. Then by the time I finished mixing up the buttercream, they were ready to be assembled.

Then just start your assembly line, buttercream in the bottom layer, then a good dollop of the blackberry coulis in the second layer. You can just dollop the center with the coulis, as it will spread out a bit when you put the top layer on. Then finish with more buttercream. I did pipe a little round “well” at the top that I could put another dollop of coulis in on the top.

I was a little cavalier with my decoration this time; I just tried to make rapid “dots” of buttercream on the top, going around and around, with the dollop of coulis in the middle and half a fresh blackberry, just for a bite of freshness with all the other textures. Fancy enough for my Sunday afternoon tea, I thought!

And there you have it…the perfect combination of lime and blackberry in a lovely light sponge with the jamlike blackberry coulis and a light blackberry buttercream. Yum!

Blackberry Lime Mini Cakes

  • Servings: ~24 mini-cakes or one 9-inch round cake
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  • 3 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 c. lightly packed lime zest
  • 3/4 c. whole milk
  • 1/4 c. fresh lime juice
  • 1 c. unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 c. granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 c. Blackberry Coulis (see recipe following)
  • 1 1/8 c. (225 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1/4 c. water
  • 1/2 c. egg whites (about 4 large egg whites)
  • 1 1/2 c. unsalted butter, cubed and room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 12 oz. Blackberry Coulis (recipe following)
  • Fresh blackberries to garnish, if desired


Preheat the oven to 350° F. Spray your mini-cake pan (Norpro mini cheesecake is my pan of choice) with cooking spray. Helpful with this pan to put a little parchment at the bottom to make them easier to come out.

To make the cake – in a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir in the lime zest and set aside. In a measuring cup, stir together the milk and lime juice and set aside.

Using a stand or hand mixer, beat the butter and sugar at medium-high speed until fluffy, or 3-4 minutes (trust me, the lightness and consistency of the butter needs this time). Scrape the sides of the bowl as needed. On low speed, add the eggs one at a time, making sure they are combined after each one. Beat in the vanilla.

Add the flour mixture in three additions alternating with the milk mixture, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Beat until just combined after each, and scrape the sides of the bowl as needed.

Divide batter among the wells in your prepared pan (fill each well at least 3/4 full, and kind of pat it down and smooth the top as much as you can so they are all evenly prepared). Bake until a wooden pick in the center comes out clean; with these mini cakes, start at 15-20 minutes, checking after 15 (you want them slightly golden brown on the top). Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove from pan (running a knife around the pan to loosen if needed), and let cool completely on wire racks.

In the meantime, to make the buttercream, In a medium saucepan, bring sugar and half of the water to a boil over medium-high heat, brushing down the sides of the pan with a pastry brush dipped in water to prevent crystals from forming. Cook for 7 minutes.

In a stand mixer and using the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites at high speed until stiff peaks form. With the mixer on high speed, slowly pour in the sugar syrup at the side of the bowl, and beat until the bowl is cool to the touch, or about 10 minutes. Add the butter a few cubes at a time, combining each time before adding the next portion. Add the vanilla, and beat at low speed until light and fluffy. If the mixture looks curdled at points, just keep beating, it will smoothen back out. Finally, add the Blackberry Coulis until combined.

Fill two tipless piping bags, one with Coulis, the other with the buttercream, and use these to assemble the cakes.

Once the cakes are completely cool and you are ready to assemble the cakes, cut the mini cakes into three layers. You may want to chill for a bit in the fridge or freezer; it’s a rather delicate cake, so making sure it’s quite firm makes it much easier to cut the layers.

On the lowest layer, pipe the buttercream, top with second layer and pipe coulis. Top with the top layer and pipe more buttercream (I piped loose “dots” of cream all around). In the middle on the top, pipe a small circle that you can full with more coulis. Top with half a fresh blackberry and serve.

Blackberry Coulis

  • Servings: ~3 cups
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  • 1 lb. fresh blackberries (about 3 c.)
  • 1 c. water
  • 1-2 c. granulated sugar (recommend starting with just 1 cup and add more to taste; I found 2 cups was way too sweet for me!)
  • 1/4 c. cornstarch


In a medium pot, cook the blackberries over medium heat until hot and mushy, and liquid is beginning to boil, about 15-20 minutes. Using a fine-mesh sieve, strain the mixture into a medium bowl, pressing through as many solids as possible.

When the solids begin to appear dry, pour the cup of water over them and strain. Scrape the bottom of the sieve and pour the liquid back into the pot.

Add 1 cup sugar and cornstarch, whisking to remove any lumps; check sugar level and add more if it’s not sweet enough for you. Cook over a low heat, stirring frequently until the mixture begins to thicken (has a honey-like consistency). An instant-read thermometer should read between 200° F and 210° F. Remove from heat, and let cool completely, stirring occasionally.

Whisk together the dry ingredients – flour, baking soda, salt.

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