Thursday, April 28, 2011

Lemon Layer Cake

I just returned from a relaxing five day trip home to Detroit, Michigan. Okay I lied, I got home Tuesday night and spent the last two nights catching up on Gossip Girl and Real Housewives. Don't judge. But here I am now. I'm all yours. And with this delectable cake to share. Bake it for Mother's Day, your best friend's birthday or any random Tuesday. It's a beautiful and scrumptious cake that's perfect for spring. I won't lie, it's kind of a lot of work. But it's really worth it. Not to mention it's so big you can eat it for every meal for like four days straight. Which is definitely what my mom and I did.

My first recommendation is to make the lemon curd beforehand. It's pretty easy, and will keep in the fridge for up to a week. However this curd should come with a warning. For each day it sits in the fridge you will eat five spoonfuls. It's terribly delicious. Tart and sweet, the perfect combination. Also this cake involved an extensive amount of beating, so if you have one of those stationary mixers you are very lucky. As a result, every part of this cake is so fluffy and happy.
I got curd happy. Not only did I slather lemon curd between the layers, but also on the top and sides. Hence curd getting caught up in the frosting. It doesn't look perfect, but it tasted delicious.
My mom has one of those fancy pastry pumps which I got a little out of control with here. We had a lot of fun making this cake, shared it with family and friends and made beautiful memories. And isn't that what it's all about?

1-2-3-4 Cake
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

This cake gets its name from its proportion of ingredients: 1 cup butter and milk, 2 cups sugar, 3 cups of flour and 4 eggs. All in all a fail proof basic white cake. Yields 2 9-inch layers (we sliced them into 4 thin layers).

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
3 cups sifted self-rising flour*
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Using an electric mixer, cream butter until fluffy. Add sugar and continue to cream well for 6-8 minutes. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each. Add flour and milk alternately to creamed mixture, beginning and ending with flour. Add vanilla and continue to beat until mixed. Divide batter equally among pans. Level batter by holding pan a couple inches above surface, then dropping flat onto counter. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.

*Self rising flour has both salt and baking powder in it, but you can make your own which is what we did. Here's the formula: 1 cup self-rising flour = 1 cup all-purpose flour, minus 2 teaspoons + 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder + 1/2 teaspoon salt.

Lemon Curd
Adapted from The Joy of Cooking

8 egg yolks
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
3 lemons, zested and juiced

Mix ingredients together and place in a double boiler over boiling water. Don't let the pan touch the water. Cook and stir until mixture begins to gel or thicken ever-so-slightly. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Cover and refrigerate it to thicken. Will keep for about 1 week.

Seven-Minute Frosting
Adapted from The Joy of Cooking

5 tablespoons water
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 1/3 cups sugar
egg whites of 2 large eggs
1 cup shredded coconut (optional)

Whisk first five ingredients together in a large, stainless-steel bowl. Set the bowl in a wide, deep skillet filled with about 1 inch of simmering water. Make sure the level of water is at least as high as the egg white mixture. Beat the whites on low speed until mixture reaches 140 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer. Do not stop beating while the bowl is in the skillet. If you can, call someone to help check the temp while you continue beating, or else remove bowl from heat, check temp and return to heat. Once temperature reaches 140, beat on high speed for exactly 5 minutes. Remove bowl from the skillet, add vanilla, beating on high speed for 2-3 minutes more to cool. Stir in coconut. Use frosting day of.

Lemon Layer Cake assembly
Add 1 tablespoon of filling to the cake pedestal. Place the layers on the pedestal, spreading filling between the layers as well as sides and top. Frost top and sides with frosting.

1 comment:

Mater said...

YOU did such an amazing job making this cake! It was not only scrumptous but gorgeous as well! Perfect for Easter and I love your suggestion of making it for Mother's Day too. This recipe combines two of my absolute favorites, lemon and coconut. Yum! So proud of you sweets!