Thursday, April 16, 2009

lemony lemon cake with whipped lemon curd filling and buttercream icing

Confession: I steal lemons from my neighbors lemon tree. I know, I'm a terrible person, but they are hanging over the fence in my backyard, so technically they're mine, right? Not to mention the fact that this is the most fruitful lemon tree with the most beautiful lemons I've ever seen. The skins are rarely flawed, the pith is not too thick or too thin and they yield massive amounts of juice.

If you are unfortunate enough to not have a lemon tree in your own backyard (and your arms aren't long enough to reach over the fence to pick your neighbors), there are a few techniques to use to pick superb lemons at the grocery. You want to make sure they smell lemony, feel heavy for their size and are a bright yellow color (not green or dingy yellow). I hate coming home from the store and cutting into a lemon, only to be disappointed when, even after using all my might, I can only get about a tsp of juice out of it. It's an obsession, a game if you will. Sometimes I even line up different measuring receptacles and put a lemon next to each one. The lemon with the most juice wins.

Obviously, I am obsessed with lemons. Easter begs for lemons, Easter begs for cake, Easter Begs for lemon cake! So, here we go!

*Lemon Cake*
(courtesy of Country Living)
3 cups cake flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup butter, softened
2 1/2 cups sugar
5 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup lemon juice
3/4 cup buttermilk

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour 2 parchment-paper-lined 8-inch cake pans. Set aside.

Sift the flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda together. Set aside. Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy using a mixer set on medium speed. Add the eggs, one at a time. Beat in the vanilla extract. Reduce mixer speed to low and add the flour mixture by thirds, alternating with the lemon juice and buttermilk.

Divide the batter between the pans. Bake until golden and a toothpick tests clean, about 45 to 50 minutes. Cool in the pans on a wire rack for 20 minutes. Unmold the cakes and cool completely

Split cakes into 4 layers using a long serrated knife. Fill with whipped lemon curd and frost with buttercream frosting, but don't be as sloppy as I was!

*Whipped Lemon Curd*
(Adapted from The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters)

Wash and dry:
4 lemons

Grate the zest of one of the lemons on the small holes of a grater. Juice the lemons; there should be about ½ cup juice.

Beat until just mixed:
2 eggs
3 egg yolks
2 tablespoons milk
1/2 cup sugar
¼ teaspoon salt (omit if using salted butter)

Stir in the lemon juice and zest and add:
6 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces.

Cook the mixture in a small nonreactive heavy pan, stirring constantly, over medium heat until it is thick enough to coat a spoon. Do not boil or the eggs will curdle. When thick, pour through a sieve into a bowl or glass jars to cool. Cover and refrigerate.

Once the lemon curd is cold, whip up:
1 cup of heavy whipping cream

Fold the cold lemon curd into your whipped cream. Refrigerated until ready to use.

*Buttercream Frosting*
(courtesy of C&H sugar box:) )
3-3 3/4 cups of powdered sugar (1 box)
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup butter

Combine all ingredients in mixing bowl. Beat with electric mixer or with heavy spoon until smooth and creamy; scrape bowl often. If too stiff to spread easily, beat in a few drops of milk.
Happy belated Easter!


melissa said...

Luckily I don't have to swipe my neighbor's ;) since my coworker brings me his, along with herbs from his garden. I'm lucky he works here! Lemons from the store are so hard and juiceless compared to the ones he gives me.

Great cake and great photo!

Jaime and Jen DISH said...

You're so lucky to have a lemon tree right there! What I would'nt give to have fresh lemons.

I love lemon curd, ANYTHING lemon curd, sounds SO delish. Bravo on this cake, it truly looks amazing.

A fellow foodie blogger

Mustafa said...

You're funny Cori! I like the juice competition you set up for your lemons. It'd be cool to see some more photos of the process as you're explaining on how to make the cake. Good job!