Let me start off by saying that I feel I have never been much of a baker. It is only until recently that I have begun to try my hand at baking bread, and I like doing it, it comes out better (most of the time) than what you can buy in the store and it is a heck of a lot cheaper than buying bread at the store. That being said, I have never been much of one to make things like pastries, cookies or cakes. However, I did decide that this year I was going to give one a try to see if I could make a cake for Michelle’s birthday. She likes lemon cakes, so I thought I would try this one that I saw in Saveur magazine for a lemon layer cake. It seemed easy enough to try for my first foray into the land of cakes.
Lemon Layer Cake
For the Cake and Syrup:
16 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, plus more for pans
2 1/2 cups cake flour, plus more for pans, sifted
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
For the Frosting:
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup lemon zest
1 teaspoon kosher salt
10 egg yolks
1 cup fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the cake: heat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour two 9-inch cake pans and set them aside. Whisk together the cake flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl; set the bowl aside. Whisk together the milk and vanilla in a bowl and set it aside. in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, cream the butter, 1 1/2 cups of sugar and the lemon zest on medium-high speed until it is pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. On low speed, alternately add the dry ingredients in 3 batches and the wet ingredients in 2 batches. Increase the speed to high and beat the mixture until the batter is smooth, about 5 seconds. Divide the batter between the prepared pans and smooth the tops with a rubber spatula; drop the pans lightly on a counter to expel any large air bubbles. Bake the cakes until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Let the cakes cool for 20 minutes in the pans; invert the pans onto wire racks and let the cakes cool. Using a serrated knife, halve each cake horizontally to produce four layers; set the cakes aside. Bring the remaining sugar and lemon juice to a boil in a small saucepan over high heat. Remove the syrup from the heat and set it aside.
For the frosting: Whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, lemon zest and salt in a large saucepan. Add the yolks and whisk the mixture until it is smooth; stir in the lemon juice. Stirring often, bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat; cook, stirring constantly, until it is very thick, about 3 minutes. Remove it from the heat, allow it to cool and transfer it to a bowl; chill the lemon curd. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, beat the butter and 1/4 of the lemon curd on medium-high speed until it is fluffy and smooth, about 1 minute. Add half of the remaining lemon curd, beating the mixture until it is smooth, and then add the remaining lemon curd and vanilla. Increase the speed of the mixer to high; beat the frosting until it is pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
To assemble the cake, place one cake layer on a cake stand and drizzle it with 2 tablespoons of the syrup and spread it with 3/4 cup of frosting; top this with another layer of cake, drizzle it with 2 tablespoons of the syrup and spread it with another 3/4 cup of frosting. Place another cake over the frosting, drizzle it with 2 tablespoons of the syrup and spread it with another 3/4 cup of the frosting; top this with the remaining layer of cake and drizzle this with the remaining syrup. Cover the top and the sides with the remaining frosting. Chill the cake to firm the frosting then serve the cake at room temperature.
I do have to say for my first time out of making a cake that it turned out pretty well. Granted, there are people who are much better at making and decorating cakes than I am, but for a novice dad trying to make a cake I think it turned out pretty well. The frosting was fluffy and smooth and there was great lemon flavor throughout the cake thanks to the zest in the batter, the syrup drizzled over the cakes and the lemon curd frosting, which I really liked. Could it have been better? Probably, but I’ll cut myself some slack and say it will look and taste even better next time around. All in all, I think this was a pretty easy one to start with and those who ate cake seemed to enjoy it.
That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for some more recipes. I still have lots to share, including some Thanksgiving ideas as well as some every day dinners to try. I just got the latest issue of Cook’s Country, and that always inspires some to try some of their ideas, so look out for those. Until next time, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!