Friday, 22 August 2014

Triple Lemon Cake for my Birthday!

Hello there - nice to see you again this year.  As I did last year, I made Hannah a delicious (?) birthday cake again this year, so here is me blogging about what exactly I did.  If you all remember, last year I tried to make a cake based on Hannah's favourite things - specifically Cadbury's chocolate and Tetley's tea.  So this year both those flavours were out, because I will not be a flavour repeater.  Hmmm what does Hannah like... LEMON!

This year's cake was a delicious triple lemon cake based on a recipe by Martha Stewart.  Why triple lemon?  Because it is a lemon sponge, doused in lemon syrup, and covered in a creamy gooey meringuey lemon frosting. YUM!  Let's get down to it.


Ingredients (Serves 12): 
 
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pans
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for pans
2 large eggs plus 3 large egg yolks (save the whites for later!!)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon lemon zest
2 cups sugar
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 lemon, thinly sliced and seeded (this means very thin! Thinner than I did!)


Directions:

1. Heat oven to 350°F.  Butter and flour two 8-by-2-inch cake pans, tapping out excess flour.  In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and lemon zest.

2. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer (trusty Kitchenaid!) beat butter and 1 1/2 cups of sugar until light and fluffy.  With mixer on low, beat in eggs and yolks, one at a time.  Beat in 2 tablespoons of lemon juice.  Alternate adding flour mixture and buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture (I did 3 additions of flour, 2 of buttermilk).  Mix just until combined.

3. Divide batter between pans; smooth tops.  Bake until cakes pull away from sides of pans, 32-35 minutes. (This was really cool and easy to know when it was done, because it did clearly and visibly shrink around the edge a bit where I could see a gap between cake and pan.  Great foolproof plan for novice bakers.)  Let cool in pans 10 minutes.  Run a knife around edges of pans and invert cakes onto a wire rack.

4. While cakes are baking, bring remaining 1/2 cup of sugar and 1/2 cup of water to a boil in a saucepan.  Add lemon slices and simmer for 25 minutes.  Using slotted spoon, transfer lemon slices to a waxed-paper-lined plate.  Stir remaining 1/4 cup of fresh lemon juice into syrup.

5. Using a toothpick, poke holes in warm cakes on rack.  Brush with lemon syrup.  Let cool completely.  Frost cakes (more on this coming!) and top with candied lemon slices.
So this is a triple lemon cake.  That means the frosting needs to be lemony as well, so I took Martha Stewart's whipped frosting and added lemon juice to lem-it-up!
 
Whipped Frosting:
 
3 large egg whites (remember them from before?)
3/4 cup sugar
pinch of salt
1/3 cup water
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (or in our case 2 tablespoons lemon juice)

 
Directions:

1. In a heatproof bowl set over (not in) a saucepan of simmering water, combine egg whites, sugar, salt, and water. 

2. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until sugar has dissolved, 3-5 minutes. 

3. Transfer to a large bowl.  Using an electric mixer (Kitchenaid again, with whisk attachment), beat on medium-high until glossy, stiff peaks form, about 3 minutes.

4. Reduce speed to low, add vanilla (lemon!), and beat until just combined.  Use immediately.
So there you have it.  Lemon cake, with lemon syrup to make it moist and delicious (even a week later), and lemon whipped frosting on top.  Word to the wise, be sure to whip the frosting until the peaks truly are stiff.  I don't think I went quite far enough with that, so the nice fluffy frosting you see below was a bit less fluffy when Hannah got home from work to eat the cake, and had almost dissolved completely by the next evening.  Magical disappearing frosting!
 

The only other advice I would give would be to slice the lemons with a mandolin, if you have one, so that they candy properly and stack more prettily on top of the cake. I did it as thinly as I could with a knife, and it wasn't quite thin enough.


See you next year!







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