Monday, February 23, 2015

The Baking Bible: Lemon Posset Shortcakes

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.


  1. Look how lovely they turned out! All that patience paid off. Perfect for breakfast; full of vitamin C!

  2. yep pretty much how it went in my house, once they were done ...they were gone!!! :-)

  3. Me too! I also clarify butter one big batch at a go..and freeze it. I think it is easier to do it this way than to clarify a little by little. Your shortcakes look wonderful! What pan did you use?

    1. I used a Wilton dessert shell pan; it was on sale for $10 so I decided not to pass it up. OMG! I found it on the Wilton site for $8.99!

  4. I need to start making brown butter and freezing it. Mine did not last past the day of baking. I had to hide one from my husband in order to be able to have some sweet dessert in my lunch today at work. Tonight I made another batch of posset. These were so good.

  5. Hey Jen,
    Remember that conclusion we came to about dark cheesecake pans? I just came across this interesting bit from Harold McGee while trying to get to the bottom of this Genoise mystery. Thought you might enjoy what he has to say on pan types! I gave that book away to someone who adores the guy. Now I have to go buy it again. He came to the University of Calif Davis a few years ago and it was an incredible lecture.

  6. Cream with lemon cream and breakfast dessert! You're my kind of people!

  7. Hi Jen. Your pictures are lovely--so bright and sunny. I couldn't agree more about the butter. What a fragrance buerre noisette has. I loved this week's selection. I enjoyed reading your post!

  8. I made extra buerre noisette too. I like the breakfast idea.

  9. Your cakes are so nicely browned, ECL. Seems like I am the only one who didn't like these. I wonder if I did something wrong.

  10. Cake for breakfast! Fancy combining households in a cake commune? Your 2012 buerre noissette and my 2011 wondra flour.

    Great post. N

  11. Hi Jen, dessert after breakfast is an entirely sound nutritional decision! I'll go with that!! Your cakes looks perfect. I would love to make these again, this time I will be more aware of the need for all that waiting time. I found that to be a pain in the neck, along with all the handling of the little cakelettes. I might try this as one big cake.

  12. I really loved the posset from this recipe. Lovely little cakes - great photos.

    Patricia @ ButterYum