Blackberry Diva Cake #TheCakeSliceBakers

Every time I leaf through the pages of a new cookbook, there's always one recipe that stands out. 

In Zoe Bakes Cakes, this was the one: the Blackberry Diva Cake.

*For "the ones" from other books we've baked through, check out these posts:

Peach Zefir Torte

Elderflower and Roasted Strawberry Layer Cake

Chocolate Malt Cake

I don't know if it was the layers, or the blackberries, or the mountain of toasty meringue--but it called to me. It's a type of patisserie called an "Opera Cake," so it probably called in an operatic vibrato. 

When I think of a "diva," I think of someone who's a huge pain in the neck--but you're willing to put up with them because they’re also fabulous, dah-ling!

Zoe calls this cake a diva--an opportunity to stretch your baking skills and try a variety of techniques.  And in a way, I agree with her. 

Making it WAS a process. 

But the hardest part (as I often find when I'm trying something challenging) was looking at the long list of directions and getting the courage to start!

None of the components were really difficult or finicky. In fact, I tried my hardest to ruin it multiple times (got butter in my meringue egg whites, forgot the sugar in the cake egg whites and added it after it was already at stiff peaks )...and it still turned out really well! 

Maybe this diva is just...misunderstood.

Layers: onions have them. Ogres have them. Divas have them. (But let's be real--most divas are basically attractive, more talented ogres)

The dessert consists of layers: a joconde sponge, blackberry French buttercream, dark chocolate ganache, blackberries, and meringue topping.

The joconde recipe was the same one I used in my Swiss Roll. It's a "light-as-air" almond flour sponge that gets it's lift from beaten egg whites.

The silky buttercream is made with a beaten egg yolk base and is dreamy and rich.

Dark chocolate ganache is always a winner, and the marshmallow-y meringue was great as a light contrast to the richness. 

If I have one complaint (other than the pile of dishes I needed to do afterward), it's that the ganache was the strongest flavor. Next time, I might use a more assertive fruit like raspberry to stand up to the chocolate.

High maintenance, but worth it!

So give this Blackberry Diva Cake a try. Don't let the diva intimidate you -- read the whole recipe through, take it step by step, and deliciousness awaits you if you persevere!

Blackberry Diva Cake

from Zoe Bakes Cakes by Zoe Francois

Joconde Sponge Layer:
3 T all-purpose flour
1 cup almond flour
3 whole eggs, room temp
1/2 cup sugar
3 egg whites
2 T sugar (used with the separated egg whites)
pinch of salt
(2 pints blackberries, for assembly)

1. Heat the oven to 350. Grease an 11x16 jellyroll pan, line with parchment, and grease the parchment (if you are doing a pattern, blot away any pooled oil so it doesn't mess up your design).
2. Sift the flour and almond flour together and set aside.
3. In a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, whip the whole eggs and 1/2 cup sugar on high speed for 6-8 minutes. The batter should be very light and fluffy, and should form a ribbon that sits on the surface of the batter for a few seconds before melding back into the rest. When the ribbon stage has been achieved, whip for one more minute, and fold in the almond flour mixture in three additions.
4. Using a clean mixing bowl and clean whisk attachment, whip the egg whites and salt together on medium speed until they start to get foamy. Slowly sprinkle in the 2 T sugar to create a meringue. Whip on high until glossy, stiff peaks form (1-2 minutes). Gently fold the meringue into the almond flour batter.
5. Pour the batter into the greased pan and spread evenly with an offset spatula.
6. Bake until the cake is just set and golden on top, 12-15 minutes (mine took 11). Cool the cake completely in the pan.

"Ultra Rich" Buttercream
1 cup sugar
8 egg yolks at room temp
2 cups room temp butter
1 T vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup blackberry preserves
drop of purple food color (optional)

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk the sugar and yolks on medium to combine. The mix will be grainy and thick.
2. Put an inch of water in the bottom of a saucepan to create a double boiler. Heat to a simmer and place the mixer bowl over the saucepan. Stir with a rubber spatula until the sugar is melted (test for graininess) and the mixture reaches 140 degrees.
3. Put the mixer bowl on the stand mixer with a clean whisk and beat on medium-high until light, glossy, and fluffy. The outside of the mixer bowl should be room temp, or the mixture is too hot and will melt the butter. 
4. On medium, add butter 2 T at a time. Beat until incorporated. On low, add the salt and the vanilla and incorporate. Add the blackberry preserves and beat until well mixed. Add food coloring if desired.

Dark Chocolate Ganache:
1 cup heavy cream
8 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

1. Heat the cream until simmering.
2. Place the chocolate in a medium bowl. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and allow to sit for 3 minutes.
3. Stir to emulsify.

Assemble Layers:
1. Spread the buttercream over the cooled sponge in an even layer. Refrigerate until firm.
2. Spread the ganache over the buttercream in an even layer. Refrigerate until both layers are firm.
3. Place plastic wrap over the ganache to protect it, then turn the frosted cake out onto the back of a cookie sheet or large cutting board. Remove the parchment carefully, and flip back over. Remove the plastic wrap.
4. Cut the frosted cake in half long-ways. Cut into three equal pieces from the short side to make 6 equal rectangles. Stack the rectangles, making sure the sides are straight. Use a hot chef's knife to trim any uneven edges. (Cake can be stored in the fridge at this point for up to 48 hours).

Fluffy Swiss Meringue Topping: *Make right before assembly
3/4 cup egg whites
1 1/2 cups sugar
pinch salt
2 tsp vanilla

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the egg whites, sugar and salt. Put 1 inch of water in a saucepan to make a double boiler. Place mixer bowl over the water and bring to a simmer.
2. Stir until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is hot (about 5 minutes).
3. Take the bowl off the heat and whip on the stand mixer with a whisk attachment. Beat on high until thick and glossy with stiff peaks 

Final Assembly:
Take stacked cake and assemble blackberries over the top. Top with meringue, using the back of a spoon to create swirls and peaks. Toast with a kitchen torch.


Each month The Cake Slice Bakers are offered a selection of cakes from the current book we are baking through. This year it is Zoë Bakes Cakes by Zoē François. We each choose one cake to bake, and then on the 20th - never before - we all post about our cake on our blogs. There are a few rules that we follow, but the most important ones are to have fun and enjoy baking & eating cakes!

Follow our Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest pages where you can find all of our cakes, as well as inspiration for many other cakes. You can also click on the links below to take you to each of our cakes. If you have a blog and are interested in joining The Cake Slice Bakers and baking along with us, please send an email to thecakeslicebakers at gmail dot com for more details.

The Cake Slice Bakers also have a new Facebook group called The Cake Slice Bakers and Friends. This group is perfect for those who do not have a blog but want to join in the fun and bake through this book.

It is a new year and a new book - Zoë Bakes Cakes - and our choices for August 2022 were ~

 Plum Cake
Best Ever Chocolate-Zucchini Bundt Cake

Blackberry Diva Cake


  1. That is sooooo beautiful! Love your sense of humor too!

  2. Wow! Gorgeous. I knew you'd be the brave one to try this recipe!

  3. The Jaconde was my favorite cake from this book thus far. I have a feeling that had I amed this cake it would have made first place.

  4. This looks amazing. Yeah...I looked at that and decided I wasn't that motivated this month. But one of these days, I'll give this a try.


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