Friday, March 28, 2014

Lemon Coconut Cake

This is the end result of a whim and a brain storm.  Getting together with my cousins tonight for wine and cheese and  Paul suggested something lemon, lemon cake. First thought was hmmm...lemon pound cake, but then I remembered he and my wife adore the lemon cake at Cafe Opera here in town.  I knew I had a germ of an idea.

Of course I use Meyer lemons.  They have a sweeter, less harsh juice and zest than the ponderosa's that are available pretty much all year round in stores.  Seek out the Meyer Lemons as they are in season now and really make the difference in the final product.  Honestly, I won't use the regular groc lemon and get mine off the tree in my yard.  Its my California trip....fresh home grown citrus, indulge me.

To execute you must have a good micro plane grater.  It does a superb job of removing zest and leaving the bitter pith behind.  It also has it in small enough flecks that its not obnoxious in the final dish.

There are 4 simple steps in making this cake.  Lemon cake, Lemon curd, candied lemon slices and Lemon frosting, in that order.

Lemon Coconut Cake
1 stick butter room temperature
1 c sugar
2 T sugar
1/4 t cream of tartar
2 t Baking Powder
1/2 salt
4 room temperature eggs - separated
1 lemon zested then juiced
2 C flour
1/3 c buttermilk

Preheat oven to 325F  Grease and flour 2 9inch cake pans with parchment paper on the bottom.
Cream together 1 c sugar with butter.  Add eggs one at time.  Beat until well blended.  Add lemon juice and zest.  Beat in well.  Add flour and buttermilk and beat well.

Beat egg whites with cream of tartar on low until frothy.  Increase speed and beat on high slowly sprinkling on 2 T of sugar until stiff peaks form.

Take one quarter of the egg whites and stir into the yolk mixture to lighten in it.  Pour lightened yolks into the bowl with remaining whites and fold in until well incorporated.  Don't  over fold as you will deflate eggs.

Bake 23-27 minutes in center of oven until baked through and tester comes out clean.  Cool on wire racks 10 minutes.  Then remove from pan, pealing off parchment paper and cool completely on the racks.

Lemon Curd
8 egg yolks
1 1/2 c sugar
1/4 c butter 
3 lemons, zested and juiced

Place the ingredients in the double boiler over boiling water. Don't let top pan touch the water. Cook and stir until mixture begins to gel or thicken. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.  Float a piece of plastic wrap over the top of the curd so it doesn't form a skin while cooling.

Lemon slice garnish
1/2 c water
1/2 c sugar
1 lemon sliced, seeds and ends discarded.
Slice lemons into 1/4 inch thick slices.  In a non-reactive sauce pan mix sugar and water and bring to boil over medium heat.  Add lemon slices and reduce heat to low.  Cover and simmer 1 hour.  Sprinkle some sugar on a plate.  Gently remove lemon slices with a slotted spoon and set onto sugar.  Cool to room temp.

Lemon Frosting
3 c powdered sugar
3 T softened butter
1 lemon juiced and zested
1/2 t vanilla
1 heaping cup sweetened shredded coconut
yellow food coloring - optional

Cream together sugar, butter and lemon juice.  Add vanilla and zest.  Thin with water if needed to get to spreading consistency.  Beat in a couple of drops of food coloring if using.  

To assemble.  On a cake plate put a dab of frosting in center to hold cake in place.  Split first layer in half horizontally.  Place bottom of cake onto the cake plate.  Spread with 1/3 of the lemon curd.  Place top of the layer onto the cake. Spread on 1/3 of the lemon curd. 
Split the last layer in half horizontally.  Place bottom on top of the cake on the cake plate.  Spread on remaining 1/3 of lemon curd.  Place top of layer onto the cake.

Frost with Lemon Frosting.  Sprinkle and lightly press the coconut into the frosted cake.  Garnish top of cake with the candied lemon slices.
Simmer Lemon slices over low heat to candy them, take care to not turn it to caramel.

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