I love Lemon Cakes and this was no exception, it was delicious. It was, however, not without its complications. First off it has 17 eggs. 17 EGGS, most of that egg yolks. Certainly not something you would want to be eating everyday but for that special occasion, it sure was good. Along those same lines, this cake does take awhile to put together so it certainly isn’t something you can throw together without a little advanced planning. Nothing was difficult to do but with all the cooking, cooling, chilling and wait time, it did take a good part of the day to get it finished. The good thing is that you don’t need to sit and attend it, you can go about your normal routine and keep checking back and do it in stages. All that being said, lets move on.
The cake as with many of the cakes we have done from this book was simple and went together in no time. To start I melted the white chocolate and set it aside to cool. In the meantime I whisked together the egg yolks, 1/3 cup of the milk and the vanilla. I then mixed together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and lemon zest. Once they were mixed I added the butter and the rest of the milk and mixed to combine and moisten the dry ingredients. I then added the egg yolk mixture in 3 additions beating for 20 seconds to incorporate after each addition. I then added the melted white chocolate and beat it in. Then I divided the batter between 2 nine inch pans and put them in the oven to bake. In my convection oven the cake took 30 minutes at 350 degrees.
Melted white chocolate
Whisked egg yolks
Completed cake batter
While the cake was baking I set about making the Lemon Curd. While the lemon curd is not difficult to make, if you are pressed for time you can get away with using a good store bought brand of lemon curd. There are many of them out there to choose from. To begin, in a medium saucepan, I whisked together the egg yolks, sugar and butter, then I whisked in the lemon juice and salt. I began cooking the mixture over medium heat stirring constantly. I cooked mine in a double boiler just because it is my preferred method for handling cooking egg yolks, it really isn’t necessary. Once the mixture was fully thickened, I removed it from the heat and stained it into a small bowl and added the lemon zest and set it aside to cool.
Freshly made lemon curd
Then I began on the White Chocolate custard base. In a double boiler I melted the white chocolate and butter, stirring occasionally to insure it melted smoothly. I broke up the egg and whisked them into the melted chocolate mixture and continued cooking until the mixture reached a temperature of 140 degrees. I poured it into a bowl, covered and refrigerated it. The recipe said to stir it every 15 minutes until it reaches 65 to 70 degrees but to be honest I just didn’t have the time to be tethered to this frosting so I just let it sit in the refrigerator knowing that it would eventually reach 65 degrees. This was one of those steps where I feel Rose gets just a bit too fussy with her recipes.
White chocolate custard base
Once the custard had reached 65 degrees I moved on to complete the buttecream. I beat the butter on medium-low spead until it was creamy, I then beat in the custard base and continued beating until it formed stiff peaks. I then set the mixture aside for 2 hours. This is another of those steps that I could not see the point of. I really didn’t see any reason to let this sit at room temperature for 2 hours and then have to chill it down in order to work with it. And, the recipe says to let it sit until it beomes “spongy”. My buttercream was creamy when I set it aside and was still creamy 2 hours later so the next time, I will totally skip this whole step. Again, too fussy for no apparent reason that I could see. After the waiting period I added the reserved lemon curd and beat it to incorporate. I then proceeded to assemble the cake.
I split my two cake layers into 4. The method I use for splitting cake layers is one I learned years ago and it has always worked for me. I wrap a long piece of dental floss around the first knuckle of the index finger of each hand. With the cake layer in front of me, I rest the tip of each index finger on the counter in front of the cake. Slide the floss into the cake and wiggle it a bit to get it started. Then I pull the floss back toward myself and then cross it behind the layer and pull it out. The layer slices evenly into two layers.
I spread half the lemon curd between the first two layers. Then a layer of the buttercream on top of this and then I added the third layer and spread the remaining buttercream on this layer and placed the fourth layer on top of this to complete the four layers. Rose does this differently in her instructions but I think it is easier to buil it layer by layer than having to lift a cake with filling in it on top ot the first completed cake layers. Whatever is easiest for you. I then frosted the top and sides with the white chocolate buttercream.
Filled and stacked layers
While this frosting is delicious, I found that it was very soft and I had to keep refrigerating it and the cake in order to get it to apply smoothly and to adhere to the cake without sliding. Even as tasty as it was, I really felt that it was way too much trouble for what I ended up with. The next time I make this cake, I will just make a classic Julia Child French buttercream and be done with it.
Next Up: Catalan Salt Pinch Cake