Once you have already made the mess -or- Lemon cake with lemon curd and blueberry filling

There have been a lot of birthdays this week. And we all know what that means...your parents sure did know how to pass the time in the cold winter months!

At school we exchange birthdays so everyone is responsible for bringing treats for us all once a year. This week it was my turn. I had already made a huge mess in the kitchen the night before while making the cake and dinner for Mr. Man's birthday, so I figured it was the perfect time to bake something else. I mean, once the kitchen is dirty, there really isn't any excuse NOT to bake.

Plus, Seattle has pooped out on the summer's grand finale most people get and it has been raining. So, baking in 100 degree heat is not an excuse either.

I have been wanting to make this cake from an old Martha Steward Living magazine. It is in a big binder of recipes that I painstaking cut out of old cooking magazines, pasted together in traditional cooking categories, slipped into plastic coverings, and put into a three ring binder.

It took a lot of time and a lot of wine. Uhhh....yeah, that is how I deal with breakups. Projects combined with a little alcohol therapy thankyouverymuch. Anyway, it is full of recipes and this is one of them. It was worth the work and the wait.

Lemon Cake with Lemon Curd and Blueberries
adapted from Martha Stewart Living
serves 10 (supposedly)

This cake requires a bit of extra work than your traditional cake. The extra work results in a very fluffy cake that is light and airy and perfect for a warm summer day. If you don't have the time you can substitute any white cake and just make the lemon curd. You can also make the a day in advance. Martha calls for canola oil but, I didn't have any. I used melted butter in place of the oil and it worked fine. Just make sure you add it last so it doesn't have time to solidify. In addition, make sure your eggs are room temperature. There is no way they will whip up into stiff peaks unless they are. It isn't the end of the world for this recipe, but your cake won't be as light and fluffy.

For the cake:
1 1/2 c. cake flour plus more for dusting
1 Tbs. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. plus 2 Tbs. sugar
1/2 c. milk (skim, whole, whatever)
1/3 c. melted unsalted butter or canola oil
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
4 large eggs, whites separated from yolks
1 tsp. lemon juice
zest from half a lemon
1 Tbs. confectioners sugar
butter for coating pans

For the lemon curd:
The yolks from the above four eggs
zest of half a lemon
1/2 c. lemon juice
1 1/3 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 c. water

1 1/3 cups blueberries (about a pint), lightly crushed by hand

For the cake:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Coat two round pans (8-9 inch round) in butter. Then lightly dust the pans with flour and set them aside.

Stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside. I like to do this with a wire whisk.

In a separate bowl whisk together a quarter cup of the sugar, the milk, the vanilla, 1 tsp. lemon juice, zest from half a lemon, and the oil and set aside. If you are using butter just whisk together all the other ingredients and wait to melt and add the butter until after you have completed the next step.

Beat the egg whites in a separate bowl on medium-high speed until they are foamy. Then begin to slowly add the rest of the sugar (quarter cup plus 2 Tbs.) and continue to beat the mixture until it is able to form stiff peaks when you lift the beaters out.

If you are using butter go ahead and melt it and stir it in. Then add about half of the flour mixture to the milk/butter mixture and whisk it until it is smooth. Then slowly fold in the rest of the flour and egg whites alternating between the two.

Split the batter between the two pans and bake for about 18 minutes, or until a knife or toothpick comes out clean from the center.

Let the pans cook on a wire rack for about 10 minutes and then turn the cakes out onto the rack and let them cool completely.

For the curd:

Put the egg yolks into a heat proof bowl and set aside.

In a saucepan whisk together the lemon zest from half a lemon, sugar, cornstarch, salt, water, and lemon juice until the sugar and cornstarch have dissolved.

Place the pan over medium-high heat and bring the mixture to a boil, whisking constantly. Cook for two minutes then reduce the heat to a low-medium setting.

Gradually mix about a third of the lemon mixture into the bowl with the egg yolks. You want to do this slowly so that they eggs won't cook. Then pour the entire egg yolk mixture back into the pan, return it to the heat and continue to cook for another 2-3 minutes, while whisking constantly.

Once it is thick, remove it from the heat, stir in the vanilla, pour it into a bowl, and cover it with saran wrap immediately. Allow the curd to cool for at least an hour.

To assemble:

Stir the hand crushed blueberries into the chilled lemon curd.

Cut each cake in half using a bread knife.

Assemble the cake on the plate you intend to serve it on by placing one piece on top of the other, putting about a third of the curd in between. Make sure you use a bottom half for the bottom and a top half for the top!

Once this is done put the confectioners sugar into a small wire mesh strainer. Lightly tap the sides as you move over the top of the cake to lightly dust it.


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