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Monday, March 19, 2012

Spring Is In The Air

You can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep spring from coming ~ Pablo Neruda



Spring reminds me of romance, puppy love , and fairy tales.   Spring gets me in the mood to plant flowers in my garden, lounge outside while loosing myself in a good book, and embrace my dreams while admiring nature.

What better way to celebrate spring than with the perfect lemon cake!  Both the cake and lemon curd are courtesy of Miette.  This cake melts in your mouth and has just the right amount of lemon zing. The batter is her basic Hot Milk Cake. I took my time making this cake, it has many steps, but do not get overwhelmed.  I started with the lemon curd.  The next day I baked the cake and refrigerated it.  The following day I finalized my objective, a delicious lemon cake.

                                                                Lemon Cake


Ingredients for this cake:

1 Hot Milk Cake
1/4 cup Lemon Simple Syrup
About 3 cups Lemon Buttercream
About 9 tablespoons Lemon Curd, chilled


Hot Milk Cake                        yield: 8-10 servings

Note: Recipe call for two 6 inch cake pans.  I used two 9 inch pans; cut each cake in two to make 4 layers.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees; butter and flour pans.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1/2 cup whole milk

1 1/2 cups sugar

3 large eggs

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt into a bowl and set aside.  In saucepan over medium low heat, combine the butter and milk and  heat, stirring occasionally until butter is melted, about three minutes. (you can do this process in microwave on high at 10 second intervals, stirring between each, until butter is melted.  I opted for the microwave alternative.)  Pour milk mixture into a large bowl and set aside.  You want milk and butter to stay incorporated, so whisk occasionally.
In the top of a double boiler, whisk together the sugar, eggs, and vanilla; stir until sugar dissolves, about 10 minutes.  Pour egg mixture into the bowl of stand mixer with whisk attachment and whisk on high speed until light and fluffy, about 10 minutes. (The batter becomes more stable as the mixture cools and this is key to create a cake with good structure.)
Stop mixer and add sifted ingredients; mix on low just until incorporated.(Do not change whisk attachment.)  The batter should be smooth.  Make sure milk mixture is cooled, then slowly pour into batter, whisking at low speed until well blended.  Remove bowl from the stand mixer and scrape down sides with rubber spatula; fold by hand a few times.  Bake until the cakes are golden brown, about 30 minutes.

Note:  Hot Milk Cake can be used as base for cupcakes or any other recipe that calls for vanilla cake.

Let cool in pans for 20 minutes and then carefully invert onto cooling racks.

Lemon Simple Syrup

In small saucepan, combine 1/2 cup water, 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, and 1/4 cup sugar.  Bring to a boil over medium high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar.  Let cool.

                                                                      Lemon Curd

Ingredients:              Makes about 2 cups

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 tablespoon lemon zest

7 large egg yolks

1/2 cup unsalted butter, cubed

Directions:  In heatproof bowl, whisk together the sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest, and egg yolks.  Set bowl over a pot of simmering water to make a bain-marie.  Whisk until mixture thickens.(Quite a workout!!)
Remove from the heat and strain through a fine mesh sieve into a clean container.  Let curd cool slightly for approximately 20 minutes.

You will have lemon curd leftovers, which can be used for other recipes.  Will keep well in refrigerator for 7 days or in freezer for up to 3 months.

Lemon Buttercream                             MAKES ABOUT 3 CUPS, JUST ENOUGH FOR CAKE

1 cup shortening

1 tablespoon meringue powder

4 cups confectioner's sugar, sifted

5 tablespoons whole milk

3 tablespoons lemon curd

In a stand mixer with paddle attachment, cream shortening until smooth.  Add meringue powder and mix. Add confectioner's sugar at 1 cup intervals, scraping sides with rubber spatula after each addition. Add milk 1 tablespoon at a time until desired consistency, mixing well after each addition. Stir in lemon curd until well combined.  I used yellow food coloring for buttercream.



                                                                  Add lemon syrup

                                             Fit pastry bag with round tip and fill with buttercream.
                                             Pipe a ring to create barrier and add 2 tablespoons lemon curd,
                                             and spread smoothly onto edges of frosting.


                                             Pipe another spiral of buttercream over curd .
                               

                                            Gently, smooth buttercream toward center.
                                 
Repeat  process with all layers.  Place top reserved layer, flat side up, and now you are ready to apply the crumb coat.  After crumb coat, I refrigerated cake for one day.  Refrigerated buttercream. Next day, stirred buttercream with a butter knife and let it set to room temperature before applying final coating.  I used silk blue hydrangea to decorate my cake.


You'll be very proud of yourself!!






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