Friday, February 21, 2020

A Most Luscious Lemon Cake

As you know if you have been reading this blog much, I love birthdays. You might also know that I belong to a women's scholarship group, P.E.O. (Philanthropic Educational Organization) and our chapter has been around a long time. In fact we just celebrated our 108th birthday and I made a cake for the occasion. A little less than a year ago I purchased some cake pans from a bakery that was going out of business and those pans are flower shaped. I've been waiting for the chapter birthday to come around so that I could use them since our flower is a daisy and the pan makes a cake that looks enough like a daisy for it to work.

For the cake I made a recipe from Rose Levy Beranbaum's Rose's Heavenly Cakes book. It's part of a set of recipes that allow the intrepid baker to make a Golden Dream wedding cake. I used the part that makes two twelve-inch diameter layers because I needed enough cake for more than 30 people. Of course that's a lot of batter, so I had to divide that recipe in two to fit into my mixer bowls. Each half went into one of the 12-inch diameter flower pans. If you were making a smaller cake for family, I would just use the half recipe and bake it in two 8-inch or 9-inch diameter pans.

This cake is sublime. It has lots of lemon zest and juice in the cake, plus some lemon oil, and then you have a lemon syrup (more fresh lemons needed) that you brush over the warm cake still in the pans. The cake absorbs the syrup and so you get a lovely, moist cake and great lemon flavor. The second half of the syrup is applied after you turn the layers out of their pans. I only did that to the bottom layer because I was worried that it might make the top layer too delicate to handle and I was glad I did. The most challenging part of making the cake was getting the top layer settled over the raspberry jam and bottom layer without breaking it and with it lined up so the petals of the flowers matched.

I thought about using buttercream, which is what the recipe calls for, but decided to make it easy on myself and just put a thin layer of raspberry jam between the layers and then frost the cake with fluffy 7-minute type frosting. I have a great recipe for it where you start the mixture on the stove and finish it with a stand mixer. Much better than the recipe from my childhood where we stood for 7 minutes with an electric hand mixer beating the mixture over simmering water on the stove. Here the time at the stove with a hand whisk (no trailing electric wires!) is just a few minutes...the stand mixer does all the work. You can get that recipe HERE and it should be just the right amount to fill and frost a 9-inch layer cake, or enough to frost the outside only of a 12-inch diameter cake.

A key thing to remember is that they recommend making the cake the day before so that it has 24 hours to firm up and for the flavors to develop. I'm sure you could serve it the same day, but be sure to save a piece for the next day.

This cake is one of the best I ever made. It does take a bit of time and effort, but is well worth it, especially for a special occasion. I adapted the recipe for my dietary needs, but I'll type it up with the original ingredients. I used almond flour instead of blanched sliced almonds. Saved a step and almond flour is readily available now in stores. You will need to weigh it. I substituted non-dairy margarine for the butter, full fat plain yogurt for the sour cream and plain granulated sugar for the turbinado sugar (because that's what I had on hand). I'm also giving weights often because you will get better results weighing your ingredients. If you need have by volume, send me an email at plachman *at*sonic*dot*net and I'll send them to you.

Lemon Celebration Cake
adapted from Golden dream Wedding Cake in Rose Levy Beranbaum's Rose's Heavenly Cakes book

Batter for two 12 x 2-inch pans. I'm giving the half recipe, which you make twice, but if you have a 6-quart mixer you can double the ingredients and make it all at one time. Either way you have batter for two pans...a half recipe for each pan.

A Half Recipe - fills one 12-inch diameter cake pan

224 grams eggs (4, plus about a half egg)
3/4 cup grams sour cream (probably 300 grams, but I used a measuring cup for this)
2 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon pure lemon oil (Boyajian makes a good one)
90 grams almond flour
374 grams turbinado sugar
374 grams all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons double acting baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons freshly grated lemon zest, loosely packed (18 grams)
340 grams (12 oz, 3 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature (65-75 degrees F, 19-23 degrees C)

You will need: 2 12-inch diameter pans, bottoms coated with shortening, lined with parchment paper, and then coated with baking spray with flour.

20 minutes or more before baking, set the oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F/175 C.

In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs. Add the sour cream and whisk to combine. Whisk in the vanilla and lemon oil. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a flat beater, mix the almond flour, sugar, flour, baking soda and baking powder, salt and lemon zest on low speed for 30 seconds. Cut up the butter in chunks about 2 tablespoons each. Add gradually to the dry mixture and once almost combines, add the sour cream. Mix on low speed until everything is moistened. Raise the speed to medium and beat for 1 1/2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and the beater blades.

Starting on medium-low speed, gradually add the egg mixture in three or four parts, beating on medium speed for 20 seconds after each addition to incorporate the ingredients and strengthen the structure. Use a spatula and scrape the batter into the prepared pans and smooth the surfaces with a small offset spatula. Each pan should be about half full. Each half recipe given above is for one pan. Amount of batter in apn will be about 1,708 grams.

Bake in preheated oven for about 50-60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the centers comes out clean and an instant-read thermometer at center registers 200-205 degrees F/93-96 degrees C. The cake should just begin to come away from the sides of the pan. (Elle's note: I switched the top pan to the bottom rack and the bottom pan to the top rack about 2/3 of the way through the time and rotated the pans 180 degrees while switching.)

While the cakes are baking, prepare the wire racks for cooling and the clean surfaces for unmolding.
(I used two large wire racks to hold the cakes once they came out of the oven and covered two large non-flexing rounds (about 16" in diameter) with foil to hold the turned out cakes. Lightly coat the foil for the top layer with non-stick coating spray and you will have an easier time than I did transferring the top layer to the bottom layer.)

Shortly before the cakes are finished baking, make the lemon syrup. (You use half for each layer and those amounts are applied in half doses, so you can divide the finished syrup into quarters and you'll be all ready.)

 Lemon Syrup
Makes 1 1/2 cups/12 fluid oz/480 grams

300 grams turbinado sugar
192 grams freshly squeezed lemon juice

In a 2-cup or larger microwavable measure (or in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring often), heat the sugar and lemon juice until the sugar is dissolved.

Do not allow it to boil. Cover to prevent evaporation.

After Baking:
As soon as the cakes come out of the oven, place each pan on a wire rack, poke the cakes all over the top with a thin skewer,and brush each cake with one quarter of the above 1 1/2 cups mixture. Apply slowly and apply more toward the edges and less toward the center. A pastry brush works well for this. Cakes are still in their pan. Allow cakes to cool 20 minutes before unmolding from pans.

Once cakes have cooled, run a small metal spatula between the sides of the pans and the cakes. Working with one layer at a time, set the prepared supportive surface, foil side down, over the pans and invert the cake onto it. Repeat for the other layer on the other supportive surface. Then poke the bottom cake as before with a skewer and apply another quarter of the lemon syrup. If desired, repeat with the top layer. Again, apply more toward the edges and less toward the center. Allow the cakes to cool completely.

Lightly coat plastic wrap with nonstick cooking spray and wrap the layers well with it. Let sit 24 hours at room temperature, or up to 3 days, for 1 week refrigerated, and up to 3 months frozen.

When ready to finish the cake, unwrap layers and lightly coat the bottom layer with about 1/2 cup raspberry jam. Carefully transfer the top layer from the non flexing surface to the bottom, jam-covered layer, matching edges. You may disturb the jam at this point, but it won't matter in the end.

Make the Fluffy White Frosting, if using, or this Vanilla Buttercream for a more traditional cake HERE, and frost the sides and then the top of the cake. Decorate as desired. Cake can sit at room temperature for a day or two, or you can refrigerate it. If refrigerated, be sure to remove from fridge in enough time before serving to allow the cake to warm up.

ENJOY! You deserve it!

No comments :

Post a Comment