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Saturday, June 1, 2013

lemon layer cake.

Woohoo I've finally done it! Made a layer cake using a loaf pan, that is. I've been getting tired of round cakes. Rectangular layer cakes are a really refreshing and much needed change.

The only layer cake on my current to-do list was this lemon layer cake by Baking by Flavour, so a rectangular lemon layer cake it was. I also had a bunch of blue M&Ms in two different shades that I wanted to use for decorating cakes somehow so it was also the perfect chance to use them. Chocolate and lemon. Definitely a good match. Plus, the blue plays nicely against the sunny shade of yellow. The frosting wasn't supposed to be this yellow by the way, I added some food colouring to it so that the contrast was sharper.

If you adore lemon, like worship it kind of adore, then you will like this cake. The lemon custard, which is something like a lemon curd, is puckery and tart. No big deal right- we all expect that of lemon curd. The surprise here is the lemon frosting. It is made with lemon zest, lemon extract and fresh lemon juice. I don't think I've ever seen lemon juice in frosting before. And the frosting calls for quite a significant amount too. My first bite of frosting tasted really tangy, followed by an onset of sweetness from the icing sugar. The best part about this frosting is that it doesn't taste artificial at all.

P.S. Remember that I said that I was looking for a crusting buttercream? Well, this buttercream unexpectedly crusted. I was pleasantly surprised, but I shouldn't have been. I should have predicted that the crazy amount of icing sugar that when into the frosting would cause it to crust. In a good way.

Now I've come to the most important and most important part of the cake- the cake itself. It is a white cake made using a technique that requires you to whip the egg whites and fold them into the batter. (I've made a cake using this method before.) The baked cake has a light feathery crumb that you rarely see in cakes and I liked it so much that I wished that I had done away with the triple layers and frosting so that I could have more pure cake in one bite! If you don't like lemon, you have to at least try the white cake itself.

I swear that the humidity I live in frustrates me to no end. Bleeding M&Ms are quite repulsive.

Lemon Layer Cake
makes a 8 inch 3 layer cake
adapted from Baking by Flavour

To make a rectangular cake like I did, make 2/5 of the recipe in a 8 x 5 inch loaf pan and bake at 150C for 40 to 45 minutes or until done. Make half of the lemon custard filling and half of the lemon frosting. You may not need to use all of the frosting.

For the cake:
3 cups sifted cake flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup butter
2 cups sugar, divided
2 tsp lemon extract
2 tbsp lemon zest
1 cup milk, cold
3 tbsp water, cold
5 large egg whites
1/8 tsp cream of tartar

Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare 3 8 inch round cake pans.

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together.

Cream the butter until smooth. Add the 1 3/4 cups of the sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Beat in the lemon extract and lemon zest.

Add the flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the cold milk in two additions, starting and ending with the flour mixture. Blend in the cold water.

Beat the egg whites in a clean, dry bowl until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and continue beating until soft peaks are formed. Gradually add the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and continue beating until form peaks form.

Fold 3 large spoonfuls of the beaten egg whites into the batter to lighten, then gently fold in the remaining whites until evenly incorporated.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pans and bake for about 30 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out mostly clean, with a few moist crumbs attached.

Cool cake layers in their pans for about 10 minutes, then invert out onto a wire rack to cool completely before frosting and filling.

For the lemon custard filling:
1 cup sugar
2 tbsp cornstarch
pinch of salt
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup + 3 tbsp lemon juice, divided
4 large egg yolks
2 tsp lemon zest
2 tbsp butter

Whisk the sugar, cornstarch and salt together in a saucepan. Stir in the water and all but 1 tbsp of the lemon juice.

Place the saucepan on medium high heat and bring to a boil, stirring slowly with a wooden spoon. Let the mixture boil for one minute then stir 3 tbsp of the hot lemon mixture into the egg yolks. Remove saucepan from heat and slowly and carefully stir in the tempered egg yolks. Return to heat and let the mixture cook on low heat for a minute longer, or until thickened.

Sieve the mixture into a bowl. Stir in the lemon zest, butter and remaining 1 tbsp lemon juice. Cool and refrigerate for at least 6 hours before using.

For the lemon frosting:
6 cups icing sugar
large pinch of salt
5 tbsp lemon juice
3 tbsp heavy cream
1 1/4 tsp lemon extract
1 stick butter, cubed
2 tbsp + 1 tsp lemon zest

Place the icing sugar, salt, lemon juice, heavy cream and lemon extract in a bowl. Scatter over the chunks of butter. Beat mixture until combined. Add in the lemon zest and beat until frosting is light and fluffy.

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