OK, this is embarrassing…I never took a picture of my final product! Ah! So annoying. This ALWAYS happens with dessert. I have such a strong sweet tooth I totally forget about blogging when my masterpiece is complete! Oh well. You’ll get the idea.
I made this cake for Meredith’s birthday. I made it twice before, the first time for Doug’s graduation party and then for Meredith’s baby shower. It was a huge hit both times before, and Meredith really liked it, so I decided to make it again. It also felt appropriate for the beginning of spring, since it’s fruity and light, but doesn’t actually rely on specialty produce that’s not quite ripe.
A warning…this takes several hours to make, since it’s three parts. But the filling and the cake can be made ahead of time and assembled at the last minute. Just don’t make the frosting ahead of time, and make sure to take the filling out of the fridge an hour or so before you need it to be spreadable.
Part 1, Lemon filling:
1 cup fresh lemon juice (from 5 – 6 lemons)
1 teaspoon gelatin
1.5 cups sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
6 large egg yolks (but save the whites for the cake)
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into 1 inch cubes and frozen
Measure 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice into a small bowl and sprinkle the gelatin over top. Heat the remaining lemon juice, sugar and salt in a medium, non-reactive saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves and the mixture is hot (but not boiling, don’t let it boil).
Whisk eggs and yolks in a large nonreactive bowl. Slowly pour the hot lemon mixture into the eggs, then return to saucepan. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture registers 170 degrees.
Not quite ready!
Another way to tell if it’s done is when a spoon leaves a trail on the bottom of the saucepan. Remove pan from heat, add the gelatin mixture and stir until dissolved, and then stir in the frozen butter. Pour into a bowl through a fine mesh strainer to get out any egg parts that might have cooked.
You should have around three cups, but don’t worry about that too much, Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm enough to spread, 3 – 4 hours.
Part 2, the cake:
2.25 cake flour (or Better Batter if you’re GF like me!)
1 cup whole milk, room temperature
6 large egg whites (the leftovers from the filling!)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1.75 cups sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, cut into pieces
Adjust the oven rack to the middle and preheat to 350 degrees. Grease two 9 inch wide round cake pans.
Whisk together milk, egg whites and vanilla. In the bowl of a standing mixture with paddle attachment, beat together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add the butter, one chunk at a time, and beat until the mixture looks like little crumbs. Add all but 1/2 cup of the milk mixture to the crumbs and beat at medium speed until mixture is pale and fluffy, 1 – 2 minutes. Add the rest of the milk and let beat at medium speed for another minute. Stop mixture and scrap down sides. Return to medium speed and beat for another 30 seconds or so. Transfer the batter evenly among the cake rounds and spread to even the rounds out.
Bake the cakes for 23 – 25 minutes. My favorite cake test, other than just sticking a toothpick in it, is to lightly press in the center of the cake. If it acts like a sponge and kind of bounces back up, it’s done. Don’t do this unless it really looks like it could be done, though. Let the cake cool for around 10 minutes in the pan, and then transfer the cakes to a wire rack to finish cooling.
Part 3, the frosting:
2 egg whites
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon corn syrup
Combine all ingredients in a large heatproof bowl, set over a medium saucepan with one inch of water. Make sure the water doesn’t touch the bowl. Turn the burner on low heat, just enough to make the water simmer. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture registers 160 degrees. Transfer to the bowl of a standing mixture fit with a whisk attachment, and beat on medium speed until soft peaks form, around 5 minutes. Increase speed to medium-high until the mixture has cooled to room temperature and stiff peaks form.
Now the really fun part, assembly!! Cut the two (now cool) cakes in half with a large cake knife so you now have four layers. Spread 1/3 of the filling in between each of the layers, like so:
Then spread the frosting over the top and side. I am so sad I didn’t get a final photo… you’ll have to use your imagination!