My friends, it has been WAY too long since we’ve broken bread together! I’ve missed you! A whole lot! So I baked you a cake to make up for it. Please can we be friends again?
Let’s talk about cake for a few minutes, shall we? I don’t know about you, but I have been sick of cupcakes since pre-2008 when they were actually popular. Granted, I know there is a certain appeal to being able to pick and choose from 28 flavours (or is that Baskin Robbins? Sometimes I get confused), but I think there is a certain unmistakable charm of a freshly iced cake on a gorgeous cake pedastal that can’t be beat. Besides, it’s my birthday and, let’s be honest, a generic cake from the supermarket bakery just wouldn’t cut it.
Now, ya’ll know me – I’ll seldom pass up an opportunity to make something chocolately, but after making a (rather delicious) chocolate cake already earlier in the week for a special dinner party, I wanted to go on the opposite end of the flavour spectrum. Since it’s finally Spring, I figured a lemon cake would be the perfect fit.
When I was a child, my Mom used to always make a lemon bundt cake using lemon cake mix AND lemon Jell-o. It was delicious, but I don’t generally (ok, ever) stock either one of those ingredients. However, I did have a can of pink lemonade concentrate in the freezer, and a few lemons hanging out in the fridge, so I knew I could create my own lemon cake without yellow #4 and partially hydrogenated soybean oil.
Won’t you join me?
Sugar, lemons, butter, lemonade concentrate, vanilla, eggs, flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, milk, cream cheese, icing sugar.
Preheat your oven to 350-degrees (or 325-degrees if it’s convection), and grease and flour 2 8″ round cake pans. I highly recommend lining the bottoms of the pans with a round of parchment paper, and greasing again. Of course, if you’d prefer to leave your cake coming out in one piece up to chance please completely disregard every piece of advice I ever give you.
To get things started, zest 2 lemons.
If you’d like to donate to my microplane fund, please contact me individually.
Juice one of the lemons into a clear glass measuring cup, and add enough milk to make 1 1/4 cups. If you already have buttermilk in your fridge (I clearly did not), feel free to substitute that instead.
Let the (pretend) buttermilk hang out on the counter while everything else gets sorted out.
In a large bowl, beat 1 1/3 c sugar with 1 T lemon zest. This will help release some of the essential oils in the lemon zest.
Add 6T of softened butter, 1/4 c thawed lemonade concentrate, and 2 t of vanilla to the sugar and lemon zest.
Yes, you read that quantity of butter correctly.
Beat it! Beat it good!
Add 2 eggs + 2 egg whites, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
In a separate bowl, sift together the dry ingredients: 2 C AP flour, 1 t baking powder, 1/2 t baking soda, 1/2 t salt.
Add the dry ingredients to the bowl alternately with the buttermilk.
When everything is properly acquainted, distribute the batter evenly between the two prepared pans.
In a short 20 minutes, the cakes should be done!
Please don’t just take my word for it though, get yourself a cake tester. Or a fork. Or a toothpick. Thumbs are not recommended though. Trust me.
While the cakes are cooling, let’s make some icing, mmmk?
I know lemon cakes traditionally are glazed, but I had a block of cream cheese in the fridge that has been waiting for the chance to be thrown in the game for about a month now. I knew it was now or never.
Combine one block of cream cheese (8-oz), 2 T butter, 1 T lemon zest, 2 T thawed lemonade concentrate, and 1/2 t vanilla until smooth.
Gradually add icing sugar, cup by cup, until you reach the desired consistency and sweetness. I added 3.5 cups total.
Let the icing chill while the cakes are cooling.
Hmmm…as I’m sure you’ve surmised by now, I had a dilemma on my hands. I couldn’t assemble the cake (too hot), and I had two lonely egg yolks hanging out on the counter.
Clearly, I had to make lemon curd. My Mom makes awesome lemon curd (although she calls it lemon cheese…no clue why. Last time I checked there was no cheese in it), but by this time it would have been 3:02am in Toronto where she lives and somehow I didn’t think she’d appreciate a call from me asking for a recipe. Besides, she would have just told me to “check my disc”.
So I figured out what to do all by my lonesome. It’s a hard knock life, for me. It’s a hard knock life, for me…
Whisk together 3/4 c sugar with 2 egg yolks and 1 whole egg over medium heat until the sugar dissolves.
Add 2/3 c of lemon juice and 2T butter, and continue whisking.
After about 5 minutes, it should just lightly coat the back of a spoon. Pour it into a separate container, and let it cool.
Such a pretty colour, no?!
When everything is sufficiently chilled, you can begin assembling the cake.
Pipe a ring of icing around one of the cakes (to keep the lemon curd contained), and fill with some of the lemon curd. Exactly how much is up to you – I used about 3/4 of it.
Top with the other layer of cake, and ice with the rest of the cream cheese icing. Stick the cake in the fridge and forget about it overnight.
Go ahead and cut yourself a slice. You’ve earned it.
This cake is not for those who are lemon fence-sitters. It is unmistakably lemon – bright, tart, and sour. I really like it, and I hope you will too.
In fact, I’d love to offer you a slice – free to the first 12 (local) people who say they’d like to try some. Come celebrate with me, ok?
Until we meet again…