Lemon Layer Cake

P1320002

My family celebrated my mother’s birthday recently after her return from a cycling trip in sunny Florida.  I served up slices of this equally sunny lemon layer cake for the occasion.  Fresh, bright and tart, this dessert is perfect for springtime.  With the heat rising in the city, the outdoor terraces are filling up as buds are bursting.  This tangy and sweet treat is the accompaniment you need for those afternoons spent lounging lazily on the balcony, anticipating summer.

This is the first recipe I bake from the cookbook Sweet & Southern by Ben Mims.  Mims is a former Saveur Magazine food editor.  He delves into his passion for reinventing Americana classics from the South.  We share a love for Nigella Lawson, so we know he has good taste!

Bon appétit!

Recipe Source: Sweet & Southern – Classic Desserts with a Twist

 

Ingredients

 

Cake:

2 1/2 cups cake flour, sifted

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 cup milk

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1 tablespoon grated lemon zest

4 eggs

 

Syrup:

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup fresh lemon juice

 

Frosting:

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1/4 cup cornstarch

1/4 cup grated lemon zest

1 teaspoon kosher salt

10 egg yolks

1 cup fresh lemon juice

1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

 

Instructions

 

Cake:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  2. Butter three 9-inch round cake pans and line bottoms with parchment paper.
  3. Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together in a bowl.  Set aside.
  4. Stir the milk and vanilla together in a small bowl.  Set aside.
  5. Beat the butter, sugar and lemon zest in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  6. Mix in the eggs one at a time.
  7. Lower the speed and alter between adding the dry and wet ingredients.
  8. Pour the batter into the three prepared pans.  Smooth the tops with an offset spatula.  Knock the pans lightly on the counter to even out the batter.
  9. Bake for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  10. Transfer the pans to a wire rack and let cool for 20 minutes.
  11. Invert cakes out of the pans and onto the racks directly.  Let cool completely.

 

Syrup:

  1. Bring the sugar and lemon juice to a boil in a small saucepan.  Set aside.

 

Frosting:

  1. Whisk the sugar, cornstarch, lemon zest and salt together in a medium-sized saucepan.
  2. Add the egg yolks, whisking until smooth.
  3. Pour in the juice.
  4. Bring to a boil while stirring constantly until the mixture becomes very thick, about 3 minutes.
  5. Remove the saucepan from the heat and transfer the lemon curd to a bowl.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set it in the fridge.  Let cool completely, until thick and cold.
  6. Beat the butter and 1/4 of the lemon curd in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until fluffy and smooth, about 1 minute.
  7. Add half of the remaining lemon curd, beating until smooth.
  8. Add the rest of the lemon curd and the vanilla.
  9. Beat the frosting on high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.

 

Assembly:

  1. Place the first layer of cake on a cake stand.
  2. Brush 3 tablespoons of the syrup onto the cake.
  3. Cover the layer with 1 cup of frosting.
  4. Place the second layer of cake on top.
  5. Brush 3 tablespoons of the syrup onto the cake.
  6. Cover the layer with 1 cup of frosting.
  7. Place the third layer of cake on top.
  8. Brush the remaining syrup onto the cake.
  9. Cover the top and the sides of the cake with the remaining frosting.
  10. Refrigerate the cake to firm the frosting, at least 1 hour.
  11. Let the cake come back to room temperature before serving slices.

 

 

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