Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Birthday Cake

My friend Julie really loves lemon meringue, but I wanted to make her an actual birthday cake. Luckily I had this recipe bookmarked! It turned out pretty well but there are a few things I'd do differently next time:

1. Trim the cake tops so that everything stacks up evenly.
2. Chill the lemon curd longer (or make it ahead of time) so that it's not so drippy.
3. Check the cupboard to see if we have beaters when making the icing, since hand-whisking isn't going to get you anywhere with this meringue. I discovered our beaters after unsuccessfully trying to thicken the icing for about 10 minutes and I think if I used them for the whole thing it would have actually formed stiff peaks like it was supposed to and not been so melty. Not to mention I could have saved myself a lot of armwork on the cake batter (and everything else I've made this year).
4. Invest in a set of 9-inch pans so that I don't have to spend a few hours baking the layers one by one in my single 9-inch springform.

Lemon Meringue Cake

1-2-3-4 Cake
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
3 cups sifted self-rising flour*
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350°F. Using an electric mixer, cream butter until fluffy. Add sugar and continue to cream well for 6 to 8 minutes. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add flour and milk alternately to creamed mixture, beginning and ending with flour. Add vanilla and continue to beat until just mixed. Divide batter equally among prepared pans. Level batter in each pan by holding pan 3 or 4-inches above counter, then dropping flat onto counter. Do this several times to release air bubbles and assure you of a more level cake. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until a tester or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

It's way easier to stack a cake when the layers are frozen, so throw these in the freezer for about an hour before you start assembling.

* Make your own at home with the following formula: 1 cup self-rising flour = 1 cup all-purpose flour, minus 2 teaspoons + 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder + 1/2 teaspoon salt.

Lemon Curd
From The Joy of Cooking
8 egg yolks
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
3 lemons, zest grated 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 ever-so-slightly. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Cover and refrigerate it to thicken.

This keeps, refrigerated, for about 1 week.

Seven-Minute Frosting
From The Joy of Cooking

5 tablespoons water
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 1/3 cups sugar
2 large eggs whites at room temperature
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla

Whisk first five ingredients together in a large, stainless-steel bowl. Set the bowl in a wide, deep skillet filled with about 1 inch of simmering water. Make sure the water level is at least as high as the depth of the egg whites in the bowl. Beat on high speed for exactly five minutes. Remove the bowl from the skillet and add vanilla, beating on high speed for two to three more minutes to cool.

Use this frosting the day it is made.


Kit Carrothers said...

This looks gooey and delicious. Like melted marshmallow!

Jerome said...

Julie is a very lucky girl it looks fantastic.