I’ve always had a strong affinity for citrus-flavored sweets. Growing up in a Greek kitchen, most desserts were flavored with oranges and lemons since they’re so prolific in that hot Mediterranean sun. Syrups were boiled with orange peels, cakes were filled with juice, and everything was coated with a fine sprinkling of freshly grated zest. My favorite fruit of the citrus family, though, is the lemon. The contrast between their refreshingly sour tang and the delicate sweet flavors a little sugar brings out has always been what’s appealed to me most. I don’t know who thought to pair such an acidic and bitter fruit with cakes and custards, but it certainly worked out well. So when I was asked to host a giveaway of the kind and lovely Linda Lomelino‘s cookbook, Lomelino’s Cakes, I knew exactly which of the dazzling cakes I was going to try my hand at.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with Linda, she blogs at Call Me Cupcake, which was actually what turned me on to food photography. I took one look at her blog when I first started out in the blogging world and was beyond inspired. The images she creates are stunning in every manner of the word, and she is just the sweetest lady around. Not only that, but her recipes are so. ridiculously. good. I made her flourless Swedish chocolate cake this holiday season and it was hands down the best cake I’ve ever had, and Suzanne Fuoco of Pink Slip Jam (whose kitchen I happened to be borrowing) agreed! And then there’s this cake. A light and airy lemon cake with whipped eggs whites folded into the batter along lemon zest and juice, it’s stacked between layers of homemade lemon curd, and then completely coated with a whipped cream and lemon curd hybrid. So, soooo many tasty lemon components go into this cake to create its subtle, pleasant, and cream-tart-sweet flavor. It’s everything you could ever want in a lemon dessert and then some.
In her cookbook, Linda goes over icing piping techniques, (which I am looking forward to trying out more in depth since I usually just do a flat icing job and garnish with fresh fruits and greenery), as well as general cake decorating and frosting advice (totally started dipping my icing wand in warm water to warm it up between strokes to keep the surface of the icing smooth) And of course, there’s page upon page of beautifully styled and delicious-looking cakes with accompanying recipes. I am very much looking forward to trying out every single one of them, and one of you will be able to, as well! Yes, they’re kindly offered one up for a giveaway, yayyyy!! You can enter using the rafflecopter widget below, the deadline for entering is 11:59 pm Pacific Standard Time January 12th. Best of luck everyone!!
Begin by making the lemon cake layers. Separate the eggs and whites into separate bowls so you have 4 whites and 3 yolks (you can save the extra yolk for something else). Allow them to come to room temperature.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, cornstarch, 1/2 cup sugar, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the vegetable oil, egg yolks, lemon juice water, lemon peel, and vanilla sugar. Sift the dry ingredients over the bowl with the wet ingredients and stir until the batter just comes together. Set aside.
In the clean and dry bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites at medium high speed until they hold soft peaks. Add the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar 1 tablespoon at a time, and continue beating until the meringue holds stiff peaks (you should be able to hold the bowl upside down without the meringue sliding out).
Fold 1/4 of the meringue mixture into the cake batter until incorporated, and continue carefully folding in the meringue, one quarter at a time, until all the meringue has been incorporated into the batter.
Evenly distribute the batter between 2 ungreased 6-inch cake pans. Place the pans in the oven and bake for 30-40 minutes or until the top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of ne of the cakes comes out with moist crumbs.
Remove the pans from the oven and immediately turn them upside down onto a wire rack to cool to prevent the layers from collapsing at the center. Allow the cake layers to rest upside down in the pan until they’re completely cooled. Take a butter knife and gently loosen the cake around the edges of the pan. Hold each pan and shake gently to unmold the layers from the pan. Set the unmolded layers aside on the wire rack while you prepare the curd and lemon cream.
To prepare the lemon curd, mix the sugar, egg, lemon peel, and lemon juice into the top of a double boiler with simmering water in the bottom layer. Use a hand whisk to beat the mixture constantly so the curd doesn’t harden and get chunky, you want to keep it nice and smooth. It should be the same consistency as hollandaise sauce when it is done.
Remove the curd from heat and stir in the butter until the mixture is completely smooth and the butter has melted. Pour into a jar and allow to cool before sealing with a lid and placing in the refrigerator. It will keep for about 1 week as long as it’s refrigerated.
To prepare the lemon cream, beat the cream and sugar together until soft and fluffy. Fold in the lemon curd.
To assemble the cake, slice each layer in half horizontally so you have 4 thin layers for the cake. Place the first layer on the serving dish and spread an even layer of lemon curd over the top of it. Repeat until you’ve covered 3 layers with the lemon curd. Place the last cake layer on top, cut side down. Cover the entire cake with an even layer of the lemon cream.
For additional decorating, you can fit a pastry bag with a small star tip and fill it with lemon cream, then pipe small rosettes over just the top of the cake. You can also garnish with fresh fruits, greens, and/or flowers.