Cook's Ill. Lemon Cake - great!
I made the lemon cake from the latest issue of Cook's for a friend's bday party, and it was wonderful: moist, flavorful, light cake with tart-but-not-too-tart lemon curd, and a lovely 7-minute icing that took almost 30 minutes. I'm still not a fan of 7-min. icings (I prefer my meringues golden brown and delicious) but it was very pretty and everyone else seemed to enjoy it. One caveat: we had to drive it 40 miles, and the lemon curd is too soft to keep the layers from sliding, so I had to stablize it with skewers. It still slid a bit, but the bumpy frosting helped hide the repairs.
I made this cake last weekend, modified a little to have more lemon flavor. It was a big hit despite my bumbling with the cake pans. I baked it in two high 10" pans instead of smaller, shorter pans so my layers were very thin and didn't brown properly on top.
I used the lemon cream recipe from Dorie Greenspan's Baking book instead of the lemon curd. The lemon cream is so much better than curd I'll probably substitute it for lemon curd in all recipes in future.
For the Italian meringue frosting I replaced the 1/4 cup water with 1/4 cup lemon juice, making it less sweet and very lemony. It just covered my cake with a few tablespoons over so I think the amounts are right.
Thanks again for posting the complete recipe. It's a keeper.
I thought the lemon in the icing didn't contribute too much also, but my little sister who hates all things lemon, tasted it and proclaimed it disgustingly lemony. I also had leftover icing, I couldn't possibly have used it all on this cake. I can't imagine how much a 1 1/2 recipe makes!
Thanks for posting the recipe, pigtowner! One change I should mention: I made 1 1/2 times the icing because we're a bunch of icing freaks, and it wasn't too much for the 6 of us - it made for a huge, beautiful cake. I don't even like white cake nor boiled icing, but this recipe was pretty tasty, and well tested. (I used to do food styling/recipe testing and can't tell you how many books & websites do not test their recipes!) I agree that the lemon curd was a bit on the thick side, but I suspect that a thinner curd would squish out the sides of the cake, especially since I used 8" pans rather than 9" pans so I could have a taller cake.
The lemon cake is really fantastic! Very yummy. My lemon curd was extremely solid, I kind of wished it was a little less so it would have soaked into the cake a little like Cake Bible's banana cake.
Here you go!
Lemon Curd Filling
1 cup fresh lemon juice from about 6 lemons
1 teaspoon gelatin (powdered)
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar (10 1/2 ounces)
1/8 teaspoon table salt
4 large eggs
6 large egg yolks (reserve egg whites for cake)
8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), cut into 1/2-inch cubes and frozen
2 1/4 cups cake flour (9 ounces), plus extra for pans
1 cup whole milk , room temperature
6 large egg whites , room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar (12 1/4 ounces)
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon table salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), cut into 12 pieces, softened but still cool
Fluffy White Icing
2 large egg whites
1 cup granulated sugar (7 ounces)
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
1 tablespoon corn syrup
1. FOR THE FILLING: Measure 1 tablespoon lemon juice into small bowl; sprinkle gelatin over top. Heat remaining lemon juice, sugar, and salt in medium nonreactive saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves and mixture is hot but not boiling. Whisk eggs and yolks in large nonreactive bowl. Whisking constantly, slowly pour hot lemon-sugar mixture into eggs, then return mixture to saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with heatproof spatula, until mixture registers 170 degrees on instant-read thermometer and is thick enough to leave trail when spatula is scraped along pan bottom, 4 to 6 minutes. Immediately remove pan from heat and stir in gelatin mixture until dissolved. Stir in frozen butter until incorporated. Pour filling through fine-mesh strainer into nonreactive bowl (you should have 3 cups). Cover surface directly with plastic wrap; refrigerate until firm enough to spread, at least 4 hours.
2. FOR THE CAKE: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 9-inch-wide by 2-inch-high round cake pans and line with parchment paper. In 2-cup liquid measure or medium bowl, whisk together milk, egg whites, and vanilla.
3. In bowl of standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt at low speed. With mixer running at low speed, add butter one piece at a time; continue beating until mixture resembles moist crumbs with no visible butter chunks. Add all but 1/2 cup milk mixture to crumbs and beat at medium speed until mixture is pale and fluffy, about 1 1/2 minutes. With mixer running at low speed, add remaining 1/2 cup milk mixture; increase speed to medium and beat 30 seconds more. Stop mixer and scrape sides of bowl. Return mixer to medium speed and beat 20 seconds longer. Divide batter evenly between cake pans; using rubber spatula, spread batter to pan walls and smooth tops.
4. Bake until toothpick inserted in center of cakes comes out clean, 23 to 25 minutes. Loosen cakes from sides of pans with small knife, cool in pan 10 minutes, then invert onto greased wire rack; peel off parchment. Invert cakes again; cool completely on rack, about 1 1/2 hours.
5. TO ASSEMBLE: Following illustrations below, use serrated knife to cut each cake into 2 even layers. Place bottom layer of 1 cake on cardboard round or cake plate. Using icing spatula, spread 1 cup lemon filling evenly on cake, leaving 1/2-inch border around edge; using cardboard round, gently replace top layer. Spread 1 cup filling on top. Using cardboard round, gently slide bottom half of second cake into place. Spread remaining cup filling on top. Using cardboard round, place top layer of second cake. Smooth out any filling that has leaked from sides of cake; cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate while making icing.
6. FOR THE ICING: Combine all ingredients in bowl of standing mixer or large heatproof bowl and set over medium saucepan filled with 1 inch of barely simmering water (do not let bowl touch water). Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture registers 160 degrees on instant-read thermometer, 5 to 10 minutes. Remove bowl from heat and transfer mixture to standing mixer fitted with whisk attachment. Beat on medium speed until soft peaks form, about 5 minutes. Increase speed to medium-high and continue to beat until mixture has cooled to room temperature and stiff peaks form, 5 minutes longer. Using icing spatula, spread frosting on cake. Serve. (Cake can be refrigerated for up to 1 day before serving.)