With real buttercream frosting, that is. Piped and spread by yours truly. And made with the queen of lemons, the Meyer Lemon. Meyer lemons taste like a subtle cross between an orange and a lemon - not as sweet as an orange, not as sour as a regular lemon, but full of flavor none-the-less. I have an infinite weakness for any recipe that includes a meyer lemon in it, and when I saw a recipe for Meyer Lemon Cake on the front of Martha Stewart's Living Magazine while in the Orlando airport, I snatched it up.
I first met Meyer lemons last year, courtesty of a killer recipe for Meyer Lemon and Vanilla Bean Marmalade that I'll have to post at some point, and the affair has commenced and continued as I have waited patiently all year for them to come into season once again. Shauna's recipe for Meyer lemon sorbet is also in the "to be made" pile...perhaps even as the christening for my Kitchenaid ice cream maker attachment, which I have yet to use (somehow, winter rain just doesn't scream out "ICE CREAM" to me, but sorbet sounds quite pleasant, even this time of year).
Let me describe the cake to you: Pull off one of the beautiful candied Meyer lemons topping the cake. Dig your fork into the golden-hued, pillowy swiss meringue buttercream frosting to find four soft and moist layers of butter cake delicately flavored with Meyer lemon zest. Each layer is sandwiched with dense, rich, and tangy Meyer lemon curd and covered with a modest dousing of Meyer lemon simple syrup = Pure lemony bliss.
One fair warning: Do not make this entire cake for yourself, unless you want to have a heart attack and die on the floor in sugary, buttery bliss. It has over 2 lbs. of butter between all the components! And I also used up almost an entire 5 lb. bag of sugar! And that's only for the 8" tier (serves 12-15), which is all I attempted! Good thing I made it for my book club - and I'll never tell them how much of either ingredient went into it...I'm praying there won't be any leftovers, because this recipe does NOT fit into my "healthy eating" resolutions. But I only had one peice, I promise (Okay, maybe 2, but not in the same day)! However, it does make a very impressive presentation, especially if no one has ever seen you make a cake before...minus, of course, the few things that didn't end up looking like I had planned (the leaves did not 'sugar' well, the candied lemons are pretty lopsided, and I couldn't get the cake squared, so next time I'll cut around the edges, not just the top, and refrigerated frosting = cottage cheese until you warm it up and beat it thoroughly. I also had some help putting it together from our temporary roommate, so I didn't get to do things exactly like I wanted to, but I'm still proud of how it turned out anyway).
It was definitely good practice. I'm swiftly finding I have a love of baking and a pure fascination with the art of decorating cakes. Chandra, at Lick the Spoon, has been a great inspiration, and I feel it's a perfect way to use that artistic side of my brain that sits feeling useless in the non-science part of my brain most of the time...combining my itch to be artistic with my love of food...what could be more perfect? Loving Boyfriend also surprised me with cake decorating lessons and a kit full of over a hundred decorating tools for Christmas (Awwwww)...so there will definitely be more in the future. As I've said, this one is certainly far from perfect (how do they get that perfect square shape???!), as I still have so much to learn, but it was my first, and I had a great time!
The cake recipe is posted below, because it's tasty enough to eat alone, and not horribly bad for you, if eaten in very small quantities. The whole cake as is is pretty labor intensive, but if anyone wants the rest of it (remember: tasty HEART ATTACK!!), here's a link to the recipes for the lemon curd, lemon simple syrup, candied lemons and the buttercream frosting recipe, as well as the cake assembly. My biggest complaint was the that frosting was a bit too buttery - if that's possible, because it didn't really taste like frosting, it tasted like colored butter! But I also had help with making the frosting from one of my roommates (she actually made it), so I'm not sure if it was made perfectly according to the recipe...that will have to be something I check another time. Bon appetit!
Meyer Lemon Cake, from Martha Stewart Living
Makes 8 cups batter
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for pans
3 cups cake flour (not self-rising), plus more for pans
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 cups sugar
4 large egg yolks, plus 8 large egg whites
2 teaspoons Meyer lemon zest
3/4 cup whole milk
1. Preheat oven to 350°. Butter two 8" cake pans. Line bottoms with parchment paper. Butter parchment, and dust with flour, tapping out excess; set aside. Sift together flour, baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon salt into a medium bowl; set aside.
2. Put butter and 2 cups sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; mix on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Mix in egg yolks, 1 at a time, and zest. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in 3 batches, alternating with milk. Transfer batter to a large bowl.
3. Put egg whites into the clean bowl of the electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment; beat on medium-high speed until foamy. Add a pinch of salt; beat until soft peaks form. Gradually add remaining 1/4 cup sugar; beat until stiff peaks form.
4. Fold one-third of the egg-white mixture into batter with a rubber spatula. Gently fold in remaining egg-white mixture until just combined; do not overmix.
5. Divide batter among prepared pans. Bake until cake is golden and a cake tester inserted into center comes out clean (about 45 minutes). Transfer to a wire rack; let cool slightly, about 20 minutes. Invert onto rack. Remove parchment; reinvert. Let cool completely. Cakes can be refrigerated, wrapped in plastic, up to 1 day.
written by Michelle at 12:52 PM