On Food-filled Friday last week I asked you, my beloved Warriors, which sweet creation you would like to see me bake and I presented you with THESE five caketastic options. Votes were cast and then counted by our specially brought in independent adjudicator (a.k.a. Craigy Boy). It was close Warriors, so very close and in the end only one vote separated the top two choices: Triple Lemon Layer cake and the Triple Layer Flecked Chocolate cake. The beautifully plump lemons in the picture above surely gives the game away! Ah yes, in the end, the majority vote went to the lemon cake! And jolly good choice, Warriors, because although it was rather labour intensive to make, it was pure joy/bliss/rapture/delight/ecstasy to eat! At least my work colleagues thought so as they licked their lemony spoons with gastronomic glee!
There were several reasons as to why it took me so long to bake this cake (4 hours approx.):
1) Whenever I make a recipe for the first time I tend to do it painfully slowly in order to ensure I don't miss out any vital steps.
2) I bought skimmed milk instead of whole milk so had to head back out to the shops.
3) I forgot to buy Cream of Tartar so had to head back out the shops.
4) I couldn't find my sieve so had to nip across the road to borrow Winnie's. (Surely only I can lose a sieve!!)
5) The nature of the recipe itself involves a few steps which are a bit faffy and time-consuming such as zesting and grating lemons (about a dozen of 'em), making your own lemon curd from scratch if you choose to do so, separating the whites from the yolks and whipping the eggs whites e.t.c, e.t.c. But the end product is 100% worth the effort so hang on in their my zesty Warriors!
6) I sucked some lemons
Couple of other things to bear in mind:
1) The recipe calls for two 8 x 2-inch round cake pans. I only had two 7 x 1.5 inch round pans which work perfectly fine but obviously don't create the same height. I love me a high, towering layering cake so next time I think I would either ensure I had 2-inch deep pans or just use the ones and I have, go crazy and double the recipe for some extra lofty layers!
2) If time is of the essence then do not feel guilty about buying in some lemon curd. Get the good stuff though, like Tesco Finest or something similar. I have to say, however, I was most pleased with my first attempt at making home made curd and would urge you to give it a go. Look at it! Sweet, lemony perfection!
3) I know that my cake doesn't look as aesthetically impressive as the one pictured with the original recipe - it's not as high and I definitely need to work on my frosting skills to ensure that the sponge underneath doesn't show through - but all in all I'm pretty darn pleased with it!
TRIPLE LAYER LEMON CAKE (original recipe here)
Make the curd (go on, you know you want to!)
(NOTE: I doubled the recipe and had enough for the three layers with only a little bit left over so I would advise you to do the same!)
- 114g/4 oz/-1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 150g/5 oz/-3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
- 3 tbsp lightly packed finely grated lemon zest
- Pinch salt
- 6 large egg yolks
1.Melt the butter in a heavy medium saucepan over medium heat.
2.Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the sugar, lemon juice, zest, and salt.
3.Whisk in the yolks until smooth. Return the pan to medium-low heat and cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture thickens, 5 to 6 minutes. (It took me nearer to 20 minutes until the mixture thickened sufficiently! Don't fret - just keep whisking until you arrive at step number 4 below.
4. To check if the curd is thick enough, dip a wooden spoon into it and draw a your finger across the the back of the spoon; your finger should leave a path. Don't let the mixture boil.
5. Immediately force the curd through a fine sieve into a bowl, using a rubber spatula. Let cool at room temperature, whisking occasionally. Refrigerate, covered, until ready to use.
Make the cake
- 260g/9.25oz/2-1/3 cups cake flour or sponge flour; more for the pans
- 2-3/4 tsps baking powder
- 1/4 tsp table salt
- 350g/12 oz/1-3/4 cups granulated sugar
- 2 Tbps lightly packed finely grated lemon zest
- 170g/6 oz/3/4 cup unsalted butter, completely softened at room temperature; more for the pans
- 1 cup whole milk, at room temperature
- 5 large egg whites, at room temperature
- 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1. Position a rack in the middle of the oven; heat the oven to 180c/350°F/gas mark 4. (My oven is fan assisted and I set it at 170c)
2. Generously butter and flour two 8 x 2-inch round cake pans. (or whatever pans you have, it all works!)
3. Sift the cake flour, baking powder, and salt together into a medium bowl.
4. Pulse 1/4 cup of the sugar with the zest in a food processor until well combined.
5. In a large bowl, beat the butter and lemon sugar with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy (about 1-1/2 minutes).
6. Add the remaining 1-1/2 cups sugar and beat until smooth (about 1-1/2 minutes).
7. Beat in a quarter of the milk just until blended.
8. On low speed, add the flour mixture alternately with the milk in three batches, scraping the bowl with a rubber spatula; beat just until blended.
9. In another large bowl, beat the egg whites with an electric mixer (with clean beaters or the whip attachment) on medium speed just until foamy.
10. Add the cream of tartar, increase the speed to medium high, and beat just until the whites form stiff peaks when the beaters are lifted.
11. Add a quarter of the whites to the batter and gently fold them in with a whisk or a rubber spatula; continue to gently fold in the whites, a quarter at a time, being careful not to deflate the mixture.
12. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. Smooth the tops with the spatula.
13. Bake until a pick inserted in the centers comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes.
14. Let cool in the pans on a rack for 10 minutes.
15. Run a table knife around the inside of the pans and carefully invert each cake out onto the rack. Flip them right side up and let cool completely. (Don't worry if the sponges don't come out looking perfect. Mine came out like this and tasted oh so good! And in any case, you're going to be smothering them and covering them in fluffy frosting so anything less then perfect will be cunningly disguised!
16. With the palm of one hand pressed on top of a cake layer, cut each in half horizontally, using a long serrated knife or a cake leveller.
17. Put one of the four cake layers on a serving plate, cut side up. With an offset spatula or a table knife, spread a generous 1/3 cup chilled lemon curd on top of the cake layer.
18. Lay another cake layer on top, spread it with another generous 1/3 cup lemon curd, and repeat with the third cake layer, using the last 1/3 cup lemon curd.
19. Top with the fourth cake layer.
Make the frosting
- 170g/8 oz/1 cup unsalted butter, completely softened at room temperature
- 2 tbsp lightly packed finely grated lemon zest
- 440g/15 oz/3-1/2 cups sifted icing/confectioner's sugar
- 3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1. In a medium bowl, beat the butter and lemon zest with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy.
2. Add the icing sugar in batches and beat until light and fluffy.
3. Add the lemon juice and beat for 1 minute. (You can make the frosting a couple of hours ahead and keep it, covered, at cool room temperature.)
Frost the cake
1. Up to a few hours before serving, spread a thin layer of frosting on the cake, filling in any gaps as you go.
2. Chill until the frosting firms a bit, about 1/2 hour. (This "crumb coat" will keep crumbs from catching on your spatula and marring the finished cake.)
3. Spread the remaining frosting decoratively over the top and sides of the cake. Scatter with bits of lemon zest and dragees, or garnish as you like.