Meyer Lemon and Blackberry Layer Cake

I do not often make layer cakes, but the other day I was watching Master Chef (you can judge me, I know it is a terrible show), and they were challenged to make one.   Watching all those cakes made me want to eat one, which meant I had to make one.  So I looked through a few cook books and came across one from Dorie Greenspan that I had always wanted to eat.  This cake isn’t exactly that cake but it is based on it.  It is very good, but there is one warning.  The frosting base is a meringue, so if you do not like meringue all that much, this cake probably is not for you.  Or you could replace the frosting with a normal butter cream too.

The cake:

2 1/2 cups cake flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/4 cups whole milk or buttermilk (I used whole milk because that is what I had on hand.  I actually think I would have preferred buttermilk.)

4 large egg whites

1 1/2 cups sugar

zest of one Meyer lemon

1 stick butter, room temp.

juice of the Meyer lemon

Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together; set aside.  Whisk the milk and egg whites together; set aside.

Put the sugar and the lemon zest in a bowl, and rub it together until the sugar is nice and fragrant.  Add the butter and beat until the mixture is very light.  Beat in the lemon juice.  Then add in 1/3 of the flour mixture, then 1/2 of the milk mixture.  Continue in this fashion, back and forth, until everything is incorporated.  Once everything has mixed together well, divide the batter into two well-greased 9″ round cake pans.  Bake for 30-35 minutes at 350 degrees.  Once the cake is done, remove from oven and place the pans on cooling racks.  After about 15 minutes take the cakes out of the pans to let them cool completely.

The frosting:

1 cup sugar

4 large egg whites

3 sticks of butter at room temp.

1/4 cup fresh Meyer lemon juice

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Put the sugar and eggs together in a double boiler over medium-high heat.  Whisk constantly as the mixture is heating.  It should take about 3-5 minutes to get the mixture to look white, fluffy, and shiny (a little like marshmallow cream actually). Pull the mixture into an electric mixer.  Beat on medium speed for about 5 minutes–the mixture should now be cooled down.  Add the butter, one stick at a time until completely incorporated.  Turn up the mixer to medium-high and beat for 6-10 minutes, until the mixture is very light and fluffy.  Add in the juice and the extract, beat until incorporated.

The blackberry layer: 

This is the easier part by far.  Warm about 1/2-2/3 cup blackberry preserves until easily spreadable.  That is it.  You could use any preserves really.  I used seedless preserves for this cake.

Assembly:

Once the cake layers have cooled, use a sharp knife and slice in half horizontally–you will end up with 4 cake rounds at this point. Obviously you need a sharp and long  knife, but it is easier to do than I expected.  Now you will start the layering process.  Lay the first cake round down on a cake stand or plate.  Spread a thin layer of the preserves on it.  Then spread the frosting over the preserves.  Try to keep the layers from mixing together here.

Once the frosting is spread, add the next cake layer and repeat with the preserves and the frosting. Do this with the bottom three cake layers.

Place the forth layer on top; now it is time to cover the entire cake with the remainder of the frosting.

Now it is ready to cut and enjoy.

I topped the cake with a few raspberries from the yard.  It would be great with some actual blackberries too.

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Lemon Bundt Cake

Most people may not think that a bundt pan is a necessary item for a kitchen.  I would beg to differ.  Of course there is the issue of me being a Minnesotan, and like all Minnesotans, I have a bizarre pride surrounding all things related to our state.  Perhaps it is compensation for the fact that  we live in a state that is cold 9 months out of the year, or maybe it really is just that great of a place to live.  Either way, the bundt pan was invented by Nordic Ware right here in Minnesota for a group of German-Americans.  The shape of the pan makes the cake look finished without frosting, and bundts are usually so rich on their own, they rarely need it anyway.

The following bundt recipe is my own invention.  I wanted something lemon flavored.  This is essentially a lemon pound cake in a bundt pan.  It is moist and especially lemony because I use both zest and lemon extract in the recipe.

Ingredients:

Zest of 2 lemons (you can use more or less according to taste)

2 1/2 cups of sugar

1 1/4 cup butter (that is 2 and a half sticks, this is not a health cake)

5 eggs

2 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour

1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon of salt

1 teaspoon almond extract (if you would rather use vanilla, add two teaspoons instead of the one almond)

2 teaspoons lemon extract

Method:

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

With your fingers, rub the zest into the sugar until it is moist and fragrant, set aside. Mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt, set aside.  In a mixer, cream the butter until light and fluffy.  Slowly add the sugar mixture.  Add the eggs one at a time, make sure to beat well after each egg.  Add in the extracts.  While the mixer is running, slowly add the flour mixture.

Scoop the mixture into a prepared bundt pan.  Use Baker’s Joy cooking spay on the pan.  Something like Pam will not cut it–you will have a bundt that won’t come out of its pan.  In fact, I love Baker’s Joy.  I use it on all my pans–nothing sticks to that stuff, nothing.

Bake the bundt for 60-70 minutes.  When done, take out of the oven and let it cool in the pan for about 15 minutes.  Then it should slide right out.

The bundt is then ready to serve.  It is good both warm or cold.  It is good the next day too.

Here is a warning though: don’t eat too much at once.  I have a bit of a stomach ache from eating half a bundt cake in less than 24 hours.  One last thing, bundts are nice to give to people because they travel well.  Perhaps some of you may one day get a bundt from me (and actually some of you already have).

Lemon Cream

I wish someone would have told me about Lemon Cream earlier in life.  It is a bit like lemon curd but silky and smooth.  You can use it in a variety of ways.  Since I have been into tarts lately, I made a lemon cream tart.  However, you could use it in between layers in  cake or use it in a pie.  With a little imagination, I am sure you could find plenty of uses for this delicious sweet.  If you are a fan of lemon, you need to try this recipe.

The recipe is actually a little easier than it sounds, but you need to have about 30 solid minutes where you won’t be interrupted to make the cream.  It is a bit temperamental and you need a thermometer, a double boiler, a fine strainer, and either a blender or a food processor.  I almost did not make it yesterday because I thought it seemed like too much trouble, but I am glad that I did it.  It is worth the work.

Ingredients:

I cup sugar

Zest of 3 lemons

4 large eggs

3/4 cup lemon juice (about 4 lemons)

2 sticks, plus 5 tablespoons butter (I know that is a lot of butter), cut into tablespoon sized pieces

Have all your equipment ready: food processor, strainer, thermometer.

Bring a few inches of water to a boil in a sauce pan.  Get a heatproof bowl that fits into the top of the pan.  This will make the double boiler.  Do not put the bowl on the heat yet.  Put the sugar and the zest into the bowl.  Using your fingers, rub the zest and the sugar together until fragrant.  Whisk in the eggs and lemon juice.

Now set the bowl over the saucepan.  Attach the instant thermometer.

My thermometer didn’t attach to the side, so I tried to tape it.  That really didn’t work very well.  I will do something different next time.  It kept falling off.  This is the part that is a little tough because you need to stir until the mixture reaches 180 degrees.  As it gets closer to 180 degrees it will thicken.  Once you hit that mark, take if off the heat and strain it into the food processor/blender.

The cream is thick at this point so it take a little work go get it through the strainer, but you want to get the zest out of it.  I used a spatula to push it through the strainer.  Now once the cream has cooled to 140 degrees, which for me was very quick, turn on the processor and add the butter about 5 pieces at a time.  This is the step that actually makes the cream creamy.

Let it blend for three minutes after the butter has all been added.  Remove the cream from the processor and put it in a bowl.  Refrigerate for at least 4 hours to set it.

Before it was chilled
After it was chilled

For the tart, I made the same shell as I did when I made the Tarte Noire (see a few posts ago).  Make the shell and let it cool completely.  The cream recipe makes enough to fill two tart shells.  It would be enough to fill one pie crust, pre-baked and cooled.