November 11, 2009
Name of Cake: The Triple Lemon Threat
Occasion: Doula Meeting, and Heavenly Bakers!
Constituents: two layers 9-in white chocolate lemon cake filled with lemon curd and white chocolate lemon buttercream, frosted with white chocolate lemon buttercream
This cake has several components so it takes a bit of forethought to prepare.
The Lemon Curd
First off, if you are really serious about this made from scratch thing, you need to make a lemon curd. RLB does have a favorite lemon curd made by Tiptree that I guess you could use, but I didn't figure that out until after the cake was baked and eaten. Next time.
Not that making lemon curd is a terrible process that I'll never want to do again. In fact, I enjoyed making homemade curd, mostly because I love lemon curd. However now that I've made it, I understand why they say curd isn't very healthy. There was no skimping on egg yolks (7) and butter (3/4 stick), no siree, not at all.
it took just under 8 egg yolks to get the required weight. darn you, egg yolk conspiracy!
Also, I think I may have overcooked the curd. When it cooled down instead of the smooth and creamy lemon curds I have seen out there, mine was thick and lumpy. Not cooked-egg lumpy--I did strain it--kind of like a shiny yellow blob. Kind of. Still tasted fine...so...
The White Chocolate Buttercream, part one
This buttercream is a two-step process. That kind of freaked me out as I am only used to one-step buttercreams where you have a sugar syrup and some egg yolks or a double boiler and some egg whites and eventually they get beaten up with a ton of delicious, lovely butter. And there was great rejoicing. (Hooray.)
For this buttercream, there is first a white chocolate custard to make. This involves melting over a double boiler white chocolate and butter, to which 4 eggs are added, and some whisking until they get to a certain temperature. This then gets covered and left in the refrigerator for almost an hour to cool.
I have many questions--mainly because I am curious--what is it about this recipe that requires the chocolate and eggs to be handled in such a way? Is it the need to heat the eggs to a certain point and without a sugar syrup to do it another way needed to be found? Is it the white chocolate that requires this extra step? Or is it just that this extra step ensures a silkier, creamier buttercream? Or do we need this extra step to get a silky, creamy buttercream because of the nature of the ingredients?
The White Chocolate Buttercream, part two
This part is fairly straightforward. More butter is beaten in a mixer, to which the custard base is added and beaten until stiff peaks. Once stiff peaks have been achieved a small amount of lemon curd is added.
This buttercream did look sublimely silky and creamy. Maybe the two-stage buttercream is where it's at.
I had made the curd and buttercream the day before I needed it, so I packed them both away in the refrigerator and went to bed.
These were pretty much standard RLB cakes. Hooray! It took me forever to get these cakes put together as I was IM chatting with the Stooges at the same time. Hello Stooges! Joelf wished he could try this cake, and Joelf, I think you would have really liked it. Too bad for you sucka!
This is pretty much RLB's Golden Luxury Butter Cake from The Cake Bible with a bit of lemon zest to lemon things up. Such a lovely, thick batter. The cakes bake for about half an hour.
I couldn't find any cake flour (where's my cake flour? I usually have two boxes!) nor could I find any bleached all-purpose flour (where'd that go? What is going on here?) but I did find in my cupboard unbleached AP flour. According to RLB, UBAP is not a choice when baking cakes with unmelted butter. Butter cakes baked with UBAP sink in the middle and the butter drops to the bottom. Something about the way the grains of flour are too smooth and can't hold onto the butter.
I knew that with all the effort and egg yolks that I had already put into this cake that I ought to go to the store and get some cake flour. But I didn't want to. You will notice that not having an ingredient but not wanting to go get it is a common theme in my baking adventures. One of these days I will learn to pre-prep.
I decided to go renegade and use the forbidden flour. What the hell.
The cakes rose well, and when cooling one of them did sink a tad in the middle. I didn't split the cakes perfectly in half, but I will say that I am very glad I read the passage where Rose talks about using the nonstick tart pan bottoms for supporting and transporting cake layers. This made the whole moving cake halves from one place to another really easy. Thanks for the tip RLB!
The Completed Triple Lemon Threat
Assembling the cake, thanks to the tart pan bottom, was fun. A layer of cake, a layer of curd, another cake layer, some buttercream, and repeat. Frosting the cake was pretty easy, thanks to the lovely white chocolate buttercream. Rose suggests swirling the frosting and then adding little curd pools in the swirls. I tried to do that, and...eh. It didn't look so great, but I wasn't too worried. I knew my doula girls would accept the cake no matter how unprofessional it looked.
It was great to see my doula girls. They are such a warm, funny, supportive, and smart bunch of women. All of them are women whom I love and who inspire me, and not just in my work. It is such an honor to be counted among them, and such a treat.
And I love bringing them cake! The doulas dug into it pretty soon after arriving, and all plates were cleaned. Our resident midwife gave me the biggest hug as a thank you for the cake. It was cute, and so sweet.
Just like this cake.
(Sidenote: even with UBAP, the cake was wonderful, light, and deliciously lemony. I know it would have been even fluffier and tender with cake flour. This day-old piece, above, became even more moist and lemony!!)