Nov 16, 2009
I had eggs on my grocery list. Jim asked me why I was getting eggs since we had nearly a full carton. I told him that the cake I was baking required 17 eggs. He said, "Holy shit!" I understand his surprise, but that exclamation is actually more appropriate for when you take your first bite of this cake. You'll be amazed that you made something that tastes this good. (Well, maybe you won't be amazed, but I'm still surprised when a bake a cake that comes out of the oven looking okay, so anything that turns out way beyond okay is a treat for me).
The cake has three components: the cake itself, the white chocolate buttercream, and the lemon curd. Since both the buttercream and the lemon curd had to be made ahead of time, I decided to spread the baking of this cake out for the entire weekend--curd and buttercream on Saturday; cake on Sunday. I was glad I did, especially because the buttercream-making was such a traumatic event.
The curd took 7 egg yolks (7 down, 10 to go!) and was pretty easy. It's basically just stirring all the ingredients (egg yolks, lemon juice and zest, sugar, and butter) over low heat until it's thickened but not boiling.
If you boil it, it will curdle! I read the directions carefully, but couldn't quite figure out how I'd know when it was done. (I knew how I'd know if it was overdone). The most amazing thing happened--I just felt it when it was done. I can't quite explain how you can feel something that you're stirring with a spatula or how you can "know" by feel. I can't explain it, but I felt like I'd just passed my midterm exam for Baking 101.
My euphoria didn't last long. I'd already made the white chocolate custard base for the buttercream, and refrigerated it. This is the custard when it's just butter and white chocolate:
This is the custard with 4 eggs added (11 down, 6 to go):
I'm using my old-fashioned glass thermometer because I'm used to it. Also I haven't ordered a better instant thermometer yet. Also I couldn't find my new one.
I wasn't sure whether I was going to finish the buttercream on Saturday or wait until Sunday, but I finally decided just to do it. Finishing it just meant mixing more butter, and then adding the white chocolate custard base until it's smooth.
Smooth, I say! I did not say curdled. And yet curdled was what I got. I refused to start all over again, so I ran to my computer and Googled "curdled buttercream." I got a lot of hits, and one of them told me that I had tried to assemble the buttercream when it was too cold (Doh! The custard base was just out of the refrigerator). It told me that I could fix it by putting the bowl over direct heat until it started to melt, and then mix it again. Oh, right, I thought; that sounds bloody likely. But it worked.
OK, so I failed the final exam of Baking 101, but I'm going to see if I can do something for extra credit so I'll squeak by with a D-. I put everything in the refrigerator and opened a bottle of wine.
By Sunday, I had recovered and was ready to go.
The cake was pretty easy. White chocolate,
the last six egg yolks, milk, flour, sugar, and baking powder, more butter and some lemon zest. Only a teaspoon, so the cake would clearly be much less lemony than the lemon curd.
Have I mentioned how much I love not having to scrape down the bowl now that I have my BeaterBlade?
The last time I made a layer cake, I ended up with one layer that was significantly bigger than the other, so this time I weighed the batter that I put in each pan.
Have I mentioned how much I love my scale?
But, again, pride goeth before a fall. My second big mistake was forgetting to spray the cake pans with Baker's Joy. I always spray the pans at the same time I put the baking strips around the pan and the parchment circles on the bottom, but this time I didn't. And I didn't realize it until the cakes were in the oven. I was pretty sure that I wouldn't be able to get the layers out in one piece, but somehow it worked.
I don't like splitting layer cakes. I tried the dental floss trick, but it just didn't work for me. Maybe there's a dental floss especially made for cakes?
Filling the split layers with lemon curd went pretty well.
But I got confused and one layer of filling didn't get put in between the layer; I accidentally put the crust part facing the layer and the cake part facing up (if you know what I mean).
The result of this mistake was that one layer of lemon curd looked brown because it took on the color of the crust. It also made it hard to frost the top of the bottom set of layers.
I've just been told that my extra credit project is not going to save me, and I'll have to repeat the course. Fine.
I know that some of you experienced cake bakers are going to turn out a finished product better-looking than this, but I'm actually pretty pleased with my icing job. True, there are some crumbs showing, and it's not completely level, but it doesn't slant (much) and its shoulders are straight.
See what I mean about one layer of filling looking brown?
I didn't mind that much about the amber-appearing lemon curd, because the whole thing was just so good! The cake was only mildly lemony, and had a very appealing crumb and texture. It's a good thing it wasn't strongly lemon, because that would have made it fight with the lemon curd--very lemony and tart. But not too tart, because it was balanced by the sweet buttery lemon of the buttercream. Okay, I know I'm fickle, but now this is the one I want for my birthday.
Laurel: "Better than lemon pie--and lemon pie is my favorite."
Doug: "The lemon filling really makes it."
Jan: "I could get used to this."
Jim: "Great lemon flavor. The cake is light despite all the eggs and butter."
Rachel: "That cake is very good."
Ben: "This may be the best one you've made."
Posted by Marie at 12:10 AM