Sunday, January 18, 2009

Lemon Curd Layer Cake

This cake is divine. I modify the whipping cream by stabilizing it with plain gelatin because it always falls apart and never looks a thing like the lovely picture below. It is still beautiful, but in a more free-form, flowing kind of way. It is fairly time-consuming. I am going to make it for my Mom's Birthday because she is totally worth all the work and it is her favorite cake. I am going to make it in three stages, first the lemon curd (which keeps for 1 week), then the cake the day before, and then the frosting the day of the party.

Bon App├ętit | March 1999

yield: Serves 8 to 10


For lemon curd
  • 2 1/3 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 4 large eggs
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

For frosting
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 cups chilled whipping cream
  • 1 1/2 tsp. gelatin
  • 2 1/2 T cold water

For cake
  • 1 1/2 cups cake flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
  • 8 large egg whites
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

  • Lemon slices, halved, patted dry (I don't usually bother with this decoration)


Make lemon curd:
Combine 2 1/3 cups sugar and 2 teaspoons cornstarch in heavy medium saucepan. Gradually whisk in fresh lemon juice. Whisk in eggs and yolks; add butter. Whisk over medium heat until curd thickens and boils, about 12 minutes. Pour into medium bowl. Refrigerate until cold, at least 5 hours. (Can be prepared 1 week ahead. Cover and keep refrigerated.)

Make frosting:
Beat powdered sugar and 1 1/4 cups lemon curd in large bowl just until blended. Place gelatin and cold water in a small glass bowl and let sit 5 minutes. Dissolve gelatin by placing the glass bowl over a small pot of simmering water. Remove the bowl as soon as the gelatin dissolves. Immediately beat cream in medium bowl until soft peaks form. Beat in gelatin mixture and then fold cream into curd mixture in 3 additions. Chill until firm, at least 4 hours.

Make cake:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour three 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 1 1/2-inch-high sides; line bottoms with parchment paper. Whisk 1 1/2 cups cake flour, 1/2 cup sugar, 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder and ‟ teaspoon salt in large bowl. Add 4 yolks, 1/4 cup vegetable oil, orange juice, lemon peel and 3/4 cup curd to bowl (do not stir). Combine whites and 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar in another large bowl. Using electric mixer, beat whites until soft peaks form. Gradually add remaining 1 cup sugar, beating until stiff but not dry. Using same beaters, beat yolk mixture until smooth. Fold whites into yolk mixture in 3 additions.

Divide batter equally among prepared pans. Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Cool cakes in pans on racks 15 minutes. Turn cakes out onto racks; peel off parchment. Cool cakes completely.

Spoon 1 cup frosting into pastry bag fitted with plain round tip; refrigerate bag. Place 1 cake layer on cake platter. Spread top of cake layer with 1/3 cup curd, then 1 cup frosting. Top with second cake layer; spread with 1/3 cup curd and 1 cup frosting. Top with third cake layer. Spread remaining frosting over top and sides of cake. Spread remaining curd over top of cake, leaving 3/4-inch plain border around edge. Pipe chilled 1 cup frosting in bag in small mounds around edge of cake. (Cake can be prepared 1 day ahead; refrigerate.) Place lemon slices between mounds of frosting. Slice cake and serve.


Hawke said...

Sorry, I tried to make only the first part show, but it didn't work. I might edit it later when Spencer can help me. Anyway, it is a really good cake!!

Ann Dee said...

This looks so good. I keep reading the directions over and over again. I wonder if I could actually make something like this. I'd need to buy some cake pans first. You're amazing Heather.

Hawke said...

You could totally make it. I just made the lemon curd with lots of "help" and distraction from fighting, screaming, sometimes playing nicely little girls. Maybe for your first attempt you should wait until your boys are in bed. I will make the whole thing with you if you want to come over here. You can make the curd and the cake ahead and I could show you how to do the rest.

Hawke said...

I meant we could make the curd and the cake together and you can finish the rest at home whenever you want to serve it.