Not Just Any Lemon Cake!

After the blah (beige dip, c’mon!) comes the la-ti-da~

My granddaughter’s school has an annual silent auction to fund scholarships. My daughter asked if I would bake a couple of things to auction off a few years ago— and I’ve done it ever since. I love to bake, and I love that it goes to a good cause. I wish I could know if the people who eventually win the prize actually like the cake or pie or cheesecake.

This year, at least, my other daughter’s table was close to that which won the cake I baked, so they could see it when it was cut. It looked beautiful, they reported back.

(The recipe for this cake how I made it is from Flour by Joanne Chang. As a side-note, I don’t like reprinting recipes that are not published on-line, such as the Flour Bakery website or something. So if you like this, and wish to make it, you can probably get it from another source, or a reasonable facsimile on-line, but you could also go to your local library and check the book out. It would be simple to make your own facsimile from this post as well.)

I took two days to make everything and assemble because I had the time. It was a lot of fun!

It starts with a sponge cake base which makes three layers.

The first, or third, layer –depending on your point of view– is already on its pedestal, awaiting the lemon syrup.

While the cakes were baking, I made the lemon curd. Homemade lemon curd is to die for!

I put it in the fridge to chill, then washed the raspberries, setting them open-side down like little fairy cups to dry.

Bleeding fairy cups…

Next was the lemon sugar syrup for brushing on the cake layers so they keep moist.  It’s a simple syrup which means it’s water, sugar and lemon juice mixed and heated till the sugar is dissolved, but it has to cool a little. I put that in the fridge overnight too. I wanted all ready for the next day.

The icing was a Swiss meringue buttercream. If you’ve never made a buttercream with a meringue, it’s worth the time is all I can say. This one also had egg yolks, which I have heard referred to as a French Buttercream as well. Damn!

I made that the next day. Otherwise, it would have had to go in the fridge, and been taken it out to soften before beating it again. Too time-consuming.

The buttercream has a room temperature cut-off of eight hours! It didn’t take eight hours to make it, or to assemble the cake but it was good to know. Once the buttercream is done, a portion is taken out to mix with lemon curd. This is part of the filling.

It’s really good!

Obviously, I had to taste it to make sure. I go through a lot of spoons when I’m baking something like this. Quality control we call it at work. “Baker’s privilege” I call it at home.

After the buttercream is made, the cake layers need to be evened by using a serrated knife to cut the slightly rounded tops off. (The scraps are the testing pieces. Spread with a generous amount of filling, way more than the size of the scrap can hold, and stuff it in your mouth. There! Now you know how the cake is going to taste: awesome!)

Turn the flattest layer over, bottoms up! It is convenient to have a cardboard cake circle to work on, as well as a turntable. I finally broke down and bought a turntable. I do all right without, but man! did that turntable make it a whole lot easier!

Two of the 3 layers ready to use.

First one layer is brushed liberally with the sugar syrup which will keep it moist. Then a third of the lemon curd buttercream is spread over it. Next a thin layer of the pure lemon curd is spread  over. You make a little dam around the edges so the lemon curd doesn’t drip out when it’s cut. Arrange raspberries on top.


first and second layers

The top layer is added and the whole is spread with a thin layer of the plain buttercream. This is the “crumb coat” — keeps the crumbs under control to avoid them from getting in the end icing. Makes it nice and smooth. After it chills for a half hour, hour, the cake is spread with the rest of the buttercream to cover nicely.

Crumb coat chillin’.

A very thin layer of lemon curd is spread on top with raspberries arranged however you want. I did it like this:

I have not yet had an opportunity to make it again; i.e. time to make it when I have lots of people to share with so I don’t eat it all! Next time the family comes for dinner…. It won’t be until late September.

I can wait. I think.

When I do make it, I will cut it prettily, and photograph a piece to share. Not quite the same as in person, but then pictures never are. They don’t taste as good.

Thanks for reading!

Bon appétit!