Sunday, April 7, 2013

sunday sweets: lemon cake with lemon curd and blueberry buttercream frosting

Spring is a weird time in Portland.  It tends to be unpredictable.  Last weekend I was laying on the grass in a tank top with my sunglasses on, wishing I had put sunscreen on before I went outside.  This weekend the grey clouds are back, bringing with them the colder weather and the rain.  From what I understand (because people seriously love to talk about the weather here) the next three months will be essentially more of the same.  A glimmer of sunny yellow hope interspersed with reminders that it is not quite yet time to put away the winter coats and rain boots.

I decided to bring some sunshine back this weekend in the form of dessert.  Bright yellow lemons are practically synonymous in my mind with spring time and so I thought that making a lemon cake would be fitting for my sunshiny mood.  But of course I couldn't just do a lemon cake.  That would be too easy. Instead I combined three different recipes to make the ultimate spring time lemon cake, complete with lemon curd and blueberry buttercream frosting.

Because I love baking and, more to the point, I love eating dessert I've decided to make Sunday Sweets a regular thing here on our often neglected family blog.  I think it will be just the thing to lighten my mood -while simultaneously having the opposite effect on my weight- and offer the right incentive to get back on the blogging horse.

Lemon Cake from Ina Garten

2 sticks unsalted butter, room temp
2 c granulated sugar
4 extra-large eggs, room temp
1/3 c grated lemon zest (6-8 large lemons)
3 c flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 c freshly squeezed lemon juice
3/4 c buttermilk, room temp
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour 9 inch round springform pan.
2. Cream the butter and sugar (I used electric mixture with paddle attachment) until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix.  Add the lemon zest and mix.
3.  Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl.  Combine the lemon juice, buttermilk, and vanilla in a separate bowl.  Add the flour and buttermilk mixtures alternately to the batter, beginning and ending with the flour.  Pour mixture into the springform pan and bake until done.  (It took my cake about ***minutes).

Lemon Curd from Pip&Ebby (Adorable name for a blog, right? Lots of good recipes to check out)

6 tbsp butter, room temp
1 c granulated sugar
2 whole eggs
2 egg yolks
2/3 c freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp grated lemon zest

1.  Mix together butter and sugar until light and fluffy
2.  Beat the eggs and yolks in, one at a time.
3.  Stir in lemon juice.
4.  Add to saucepan and cook, over low heat, stirring constantly until it reaches 170 degrees.  Then stir in lemon zest.
5.  Let cool and store in the fridge, with plastic wrap, until needed.

Blueberry Buttercream Frosting, adapted from Baking with Basil

1 c unsalted butter, room temp
1/4 c blueberry puree
1-2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp lemon zest
pinch of salt
3 c confectioner's sugar (more if you like a very sweet frosting)

1.  Using mixer, cream butter until smooth
2.  Add blueberry juice, blueberry puree, vanilla and salt.  Mix until well-combined.
3.  Gradually add confectioner's sugar and mix on low until fully combined.  Beat for a few minutes until light and fluffy.

Putting it all together.

1.  Cool cake completely.  Or, if you are like me and too impatient to let this happen, put it in the garage for thirty minutes (hey, it was only 47 degrees).

2.  Cut cake in half lengthwise.

3.  Spread lemon curd over bottom cake.  Don't do what I did, which was spread it too close to the edge.  Once you start frosting the cake the lemon curd kind of oozes out of the sides.  Then you will be forced to remove the lemon curd with your finger and eat it.  But, again if you are like me,  this may not be such a bad thing.

4.  Place the other cake half on top of the bottom cake with the curd.  Now start frosting.  I have no tips for this because the way I did it was in no way something I would ask anyone to emmulate.  I am sure there are good tutorials on the web on how to appropriately frost a cake.  This is not that tutorial.

5.  Eat cake.  But try to wait until after you eat dinner so you don't feel ashamed of yourself.  Show some restraint for goodness sake, people.


The lemon curd was the winner here.  I could probably eat it with a spoon straight out of the bowl if that would not make me look super pathetic.  The cake was really good too.  But keep in mind that the original recipe was for a lemon pound cake so expect this to be fairly dense.  I was not super happy with the way the frosting turned out.  I don't think this was a problem with the recipe, though.  I tend to dislike sweet frostings and so I had to make some changes to this one in order to cut down on some of the sweetness.  Lesson I learned today is that I don't like buttercream frosting too much.  It just ain't my thang.

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