This week's project is another one of those easy to make, spectacular results kind of bake. Little genoise cakes filled with a lemon posset, which is a lemony custard made with just lemon juice, sugar, and cream. The acid in the lemon juice is what sets the cream, and such spare ingredients really let the lemon shine. A perfect dessert for the lemon lover in your life.
The original Lemon Posset was served in a cup without the cake, and there are instructions to make this variation as well. I doubled the posset, since I had enough lemons and cream, so we got to try both desserts. Such a hard life we have.
It has been awhile since I have made a genoise and I had forgotten how much I love them. A genoise is a sponge cake leavened with very well beaten eggs. What makes these cakes so delicious is the browned and clarified butter, or beurre noisette. This is what you do to butter when you want to make it more awesome than it already is. Beurre noisette can take a while to make, as you have to not only clarify the butter (cook off all the water and wait for the milk solids to separate) but then you wait for those solids to brown. And as Carla Hall says on The Chew, "there is flavor in the brown." Totes right, there is.
Rose mentions that beurre noisette can live in the freezer for a good long time so I like to clarify a pound of butter and freeze the results. This takes forever to do but having it on hand is wonderful. And holy cow, according to what I wrote on the top of my container, this beurre noisette is from 2012!?! And it is still perfectly good.
After the cakes cool they are syruped with a lemon simple syrup and left to rest. Usually we leave genoise to rest overnight once syruped, and although this recipe makes no mention of that, I went ahead and did it anyway. The recipe does call for glazing the cakes in an apple jelly glaze to seal the sides and keep the cake from drying out. I totally forgot to do that, but we ate all the cakes within 12 hours of final assembling so there were no dry cake problems to speak of.
The lemon posset component is really easy to make, but does take a lot of time to set. Lemon juice and sugar are brought to an almost boil, the scalded cream is mixed in, and then it is poured into a nonreactive container to set. Rose warns that the posset mustn't be deeper than 3/4 inch to set properly, and when you double the recipe it fits perfectly in a 9 in pyrex pie plate. Then the waiting game begins. 3-4 hours later, the top layer of the posset has set to a thick cream. This is scraped off with a spoon and set in the cakes' depression. Both the cakes and the posset go back into the refrigerator for another hour to set, then the more creamier middle layer of posset is spooned into the cakes up to the top. Then, OMG, another 2 hours of refrigeration to set that before you can eat it. Thank the fudge I doubled the posset so Mark and I could sample it while we waited for the final set. It was delicious, but I wanted a little whipped cream to set it off. Yep, I wanted even more cream. I also thought a little ginger syrup would go nicely with the lemony custard, but I was too lazy to make any. Next time.
When we finally were able to eat a shortcake, it was well worth the wait. The buttery, soft, genoise is a perfect match for the bright and creamy posset. I am not ashamed to say we ate two each last night, leaving the last two shortcakes for this morning for photos. Then we ate them as sort of a dessert after breakfast. Delicious.