Sunday, February 25th, 2007
Yesterday I made a 9″ square lemon cake for a client.Â It’s a good cake, but a bit labor-intensive.
First I made the cake.
Then, while that baked, I made the lemon curd for the filling.Â (If you’ve never tasted homemade lemon curd, I encourage you to scroll down to the bottom of this post and go make yourself some forthwith.Â It’s a little bit of heaven on a spoon.Â Why, yes, I do just eat it straight, with a spoon.Â Is there something wrong with that?)
When the cakes were baked, and after they cooled,
I sliced off the domed tops and cut them in half horizontally.Â (This process leaves the cook with some yummy cake scraps to spread lemon curd on later.)
After I cut the cakes, I soaked the bottom layer with soaking syrup.Â (Simple syrup=equal parts sugar and water, brought to a boil and then cooled.Â Add flavoring according to the kind of cake you’re making.Â For this cake I added straight lemon juice; more often I add some kind of alcohol or liqueur.)
I made the filling by folding meringue into the lemon curd along with a little bit of gelatin for stability, and filled the cakes.Â The top layer got the soaking treatment, as well.
The cakes took a little break in the frig while I made the Italian buttercream for the frosting.Â First you make an Italian meringue:Â whip 8 oz. of egg whites with a little sugar, bring more sugar and water to 248 F, and pour the boiling sugar syrup into the foamed whites.Â Whip until cool.
Then add 2# (yes, that’s 2 pounds–don’t faint, that’s what makes it good) of softened butter and you have the most delicious, satiny,Â easiest-to-work-with frosting on the planet.
I put a crumb coat on the cakes and chilled them briefly.
Then I frosted and decorated them with the buttercream.
Et voila!Â Finished cakes!
As easy as pie!Â Er, cake.
1 cup lemon juice
Zest of 1-2 lemons
12 oz. (1 1/2 cups) sugar, divided
5 egg yolks
4 oz. (1 stick) butter
Bring lemon juice, lemon zest, and about 8 oz. (1 cup) sugar to a boil in a non-reactive saucepan, stirring to be sure sugar dissolves.Â As mixture reaches a boil, whisk remaining sugar into eggs and yolks in a bowl.Â (Don’t put the sugar on top of the eggs and let it sit without whisking–the sugar will “burn” the eggs.)
Pour about half the boiling lemon juice mixture into egg/sugar mixture, whisking constantly.Â (This is called tempering the eggs, and it ensures that the eggs will not curdle when you pour them back into the boiling juice.)
Put the saucepan back on the heat and pour the egg mixture into the remaining juice mixture, whisking constantly.Â Turn the heat down to medium-low, and cook the curd, whisking constantly, until it thickens and almost reaches the boiling point. (190-195 F.)
Remove from heat and whisk in butter until it is melted.Â Immediately strain curd through a fine-meshed strainer to remove lemon zest and any small cooked egg bits.Â Refrigerate, stirring occasionally, until chilled.Â Get your spoon ready.