Saturday, August 15, 2009

Candied Lemon Cake

So what do you do when you lack an ingredient for one recipe you really want to do? Short of running to the store for something I won't have much use for with the excess I improvise. Not entirely by the seat of my pants, but with a little research for similar recipes with ingredients I have on hand.

Such is what happened with the Candied Lemon Cake. The idea came from a recipe Martha Stewart's everyday food. I lacked buttermilk and wasn't about to run off to the store for a quart when all I needed was a cup. I had sour cream, but how much to substitute and how was the question. I found a few other recipes with sour cream based cakes and subbed in the amount of sour cream and juice I needed. Voila problem solved and I could use the rest of the recipe as guidance for assembly for the final product.

The cake itself has a nice crumb and a density more like a pound cake than your usual boxed cake. A good thing in my book as it packs more flavor in each bite. The frosting is actually more of a Swiss Meringue as it starts over warm water to dissolved the sugar into the egg whites. That too is a good thing as it is a very light and fluffy frosting and the perfect counterpoint to the dense richly flavored cake. Of course the candied lemons on top are just the perfect pissy touch to make it all edible with your eyes. Presentation is everything.
The one trick I have for you applies to the application of the syrup to the warm cakes. Put the cakes on their cooling rack over a baking sheet to catch the drips and prevent the cakes from sticking to the counter. On the rack lets the syrup run all over as you brush it on without fear of making a bigger mess on the counters, or worse the cake sticking to the counter.

Candied Lemon Cake

  • 1 C (2 sticks) room temperature butter plus more for pans
  • 2 ½ C flour, spooned and leveled, plus more for pans
  • ½ t baking powder
  • ½ t baking soda
  • 1 ½ c sugar
  • 2 large eggs plus 3 egg yolks (reserve whites for frosting)
  • 1 T Lemon Zest
  • 3/4 C sour cream
  • 1/4 C lemon juice
  • Whipped Frosting

Preheat oven to 350F. Butter and flour 2 8X2 inch cake pans, tapping out excess flour. Line bottom of pan with parchment paper round.

In a medium bowl whisk flour, baking powder, soda and salt.

In a large mixing bowl using electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. With mixer on low, beat in eggs and yolks one at a time. Mix together lemon juice and sour cream. Alternately beat in flour mixture and sour cream , beginning and ending with flour mixture, mix just until combined.

Divide batter between pans; smooth tops. Bake until cakes pull away from sides of pans, 32-25 minutes. Let cool in pan 10 minutes. Run a knife around edges of pans and invert cakes onto a wire rack. Cool completely.

While cake bakes bring ½ c sugar and ½ water to boil in a sauce pan. Add one thinly sliced lemon and simmer 25 minutes. Using a slotted spoon transfer lemon slices to a wax paper lined plate. Stir in ¼ c fresh lemon juice into the syrup. Using a toothpick, poke holes in warm cakes on rack. Brush with lemon syrup.

Place cake, bottom side up on a cake stand. Tuck strips of parchment paper underneath. Using offset spatula spread top with whipped frosting. Top with remaining cake. Frost top, then sides. Add candied lemon slices to the top of the cake as edible garnish.

Whipped Frosting:
In heat proof bowl over simmering water (not touching) combine 3 large egg whites, ¾ c sugar, pinch of salt and 1/3 c water. Cover over medium, stirring constantly, until sugar has dissolved and mixture registers 150F on instant read thermometer. Using an electric mixer, beat on medium high until glossy, stiff peaks form. Do not over beat, about 3 minutes: reduce speed to low and add 2 Tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice and beat until just combined.

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