I love lemon cakes, pies, cookies, etc. This cake is the best! It comes from Cook's Illustrated Magazine, Mar/Apr 07 edition. As always, they area very precise with their directions, so they might be long, but don't be put off by that. The filling can be made a day ahead, it does get a little stiff, just stir it to loosen it up a bit. Chill leftovers.
lemon curd filling
- 1 cup fresh lemon juice, about 6 lemons (no bottled, please)
- 1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin, plain
- 1 1⁄2 cups granulated sugar
- 1⁄8 teaspoon salt
- 4 large eggs
- 6 large egg yolks, from large eggs (reserve egg whites for cake)
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes and frozen
- 2 1⁄4 cups cake flour
- 1 cup whole milk, room temperature
- 6 egg whites, room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 3⁄4 cups sugar
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, but still cool
fluffy white icing
- 2 large egg whites, from large eggs
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1⁄4 cup water
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (again, no bottled)
- 1 tablespoon corn syrup
- Filling: Measure 1 tablespoon lemon juice into a small bowl; sprinkle gelatin over the top.
- Heat remaining lemon juice, sugar, and salt in medium non-reactive sauce pan over medium high heat, stirring occasionally until sugar dissolves and mixture is hot, but not boiling.
- Whisk eggs and yolks in a large non-reactive bowl.
- Whisking constantly, slowly pour hot lemon-sugar mixture into eggs, then return mixture to saucepan.
- Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly until mixture reaches 170° and is thick enought to leave a trail when a spatula is scraped along the bottom of the pan, about 4-6 minutes.
- Immediately remove pan from heat and stir in gelatin mixture until dissolved. Stir in frozen butter until incorporated.
- Pour filling through a fine-meshed strainer into a bowl.
- Cover surface with plastic wrap; refrigerate until firm enough to spread, about 4 hours.
- Cake: Preheat oven to 350°.
- Grease and flour two 9-inch cake pans and line with parchment paper.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together egg milk, egg whites and vanilla.
- In a mixer bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt; mix at slow speed.
- Add butter one piece at a time, continue to beat until mixture resembles moist crumbs and no visible butter chunks.
- Add all but 1 cup of milk mixture to crumbs and beat at medium speed until mixture is pale and fluffy, about 1 1/2 minutes.
- With mixer running, add remaining 1/2 cup milk mixture, beat 1 mintute more.
- Divide batter evenly between cake pans.
- Bake 23-25 minutes or until toothpick in center of cakes comes out clean.
- Loosen cakes from side of pan with a small knife, cool in pan 10 minutes then remove from pan onto greased wire rack, remove parchment paper, invert again and cool completely.
- Icing: Combine all ingredients in a mixer bowl or heatproof bowl.
- Set over medium saucepan filled with 1-inch of simmering water.
- Cook stirring constantly until mixture reaches 160°, 5-10 minutes.
- Transfer mixture to mixer bowl (if needed) and beat on medium speed until soft peaks form, about 5 minutes.
- Increase speed to medium-high and continue to beat until mixture has cooled to room temperature and stiff peaks form, about 5 minutes longer.
- Assembly: Cut each layer in half horizontally.
- Spread 1 cup of lemon filling evenly on each cake, (except the top layer) leaving 1/2-inch border around cake.
- Place top layer on cakes, smooth out any filling that may have leaked from the layers.
- Refrigerate while you make the icing.
- Spread icing on cake.