The 20-Minute, Make-Ahead Cake to Impress at Your Fourth of July Barbecue

Red, white, and blackberries.
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As much as I love an all-day baking project when the weather outside is less than ideal (either too-hot or overcast), I've also recently come to embrace the simplicity that comes from a twenty-minute, make-ahead dessert, like this Eton Mess and 'Funfetti Shortcake Bar' from years past. This year, I'm taking inspiration from a Bon Appetit recipe for a Blackberry Icebox Cake, which is made the day before, doesn't require an oven (it's served refreshingly cool), and takes about twenty minutes to prep. 

The recipe itself is so fool-proof (a friend who readily admits she has no cooking skills whatsoever recommended it to me) that even Sloan could make it with some guidance. And the simplicity of the prep and ingredient list betrays how delicious it is: It's made with just blackberries, jam, lemon, heavy cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla wafers.

To start, simply slice blackberries in half and place into a medium bowl, then add blackberry jam and lemon juice and let the mixture sit for 10 minutes. Side note: This alone would be delicious over pancakes. While the berries soak up the juice, use an electric mixer to beat heavy cream, powdered sugar, and a pinch of salt until peaks are formed. 

Once steps one and two are complete, you begin the most important element of the entire dessert: The construction. Carefully line a medium-sized bowl with cling wrap, ensuring there is plenty of over-hang. Line the bowl with vanilla wafers (yum), then layer with the jam mixture and cream, repeating until you reach the top of the bowl. Bring up the plastic overhang to cover the bowl and chill in the refrigerator for 24 hours or up to two days in advance

Before serving, or heading to your barbecue, top with leftover cream and berries. It's truly that simple. If you start tonight or tomorrow, you'll have the easiest, throw-together cake ready come Fourth of July! x

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