Monday, June 25, 2012

A Tale of Two Cakes

Boyf has graduated from college! Hooray! Now he’s off to go make robots in the real world (by which I mean to say that he’s already done it in a less professional capacity and it carries rice and it is awesome), and I’m super proud of him.

And speaking of the boyf, this month marks our anniversary, and since he’s pretty awesome, I decided to make something for him.

“It was the best of cakes, it was the worst of cakes, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Lemons, it was the season of Raspberries, it was the spring of cream cheese, it was the winter of buttermilk, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us…”

Alright, so I may altered that a little, but I still give credit to Charles Dickens.

And actually, we didn’t have nothing before us; we had a giant slice (does it count as a slice if it was the whole small cake that happened to be giant slice-shaped?) of lemony goodness before us.

I have never made a cake from scratch before. Once, years ago, my lovely friend Zab and I made a cake out of two boxed cake mixes. What we did with them was pretty much genius.

Awesome, right? But let’s face it; they were still just cake mixes and our only contribution was a couple  of ingredients and a moment of genius with a knife.

But this day was different. This day, I decided that I was inspired (and by now the red warning light should be flashing). “By what?” you ask. “BY LOVE,” I would tell you, but I only write that in all capitals because it is late and I am tired and overly enthusiastic.

I’m not even a cake person, that’s how inspired I was.

And I wasn’t inspired to make just any cake, mind you. I decided that a two-layer raspberry and lemon cake with lemon cream cheese frosting would be a great first foray into the world of cake.

Well that was foolish.

Sort of.

That is, it was foolish enough that I am not going to be giving you the recipe for the raspberry portion of the cake. Call me crazy, but if the words “gummy”, “spongy”, and “ugly” can be used to describe something, I don’t think it should be shared. However, I will gladly share the recipe of lemony goodness.

It may not make you want to participate in a revolution, but I’d like to think it’s better than discussing one with your high school English class.

And please forgive the photography. It was late and dark and there was no pretty lighting to be found.

Lemon Cake with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

Lemon Cake
6 T butter (softened)
6 T and also 1 ½ T white sugar
2 eggs (separated)
1/3 c buttermilk (slightly less than 1/3 c milk plus 1 teaspoon lemon juice, stirred and allowed to sit for 5-10 minutes)
½ t lemon juice (in addition to the buttermilk lemon juice)
Zest of one lemon
1/8 t vanilla extract
½ heaping c flour
1 t baking powder
pinch of salt
pinch of cream of tartar

  1. Make your buttermilk.
  2. Preheat oven to 350°F (177.7 C) and grease a small cake pan (9”x9”). Remember, this cake ends up pretty small, which is great if you want cake and a big cake would be too much, but is not so great if you’re hosting a party. Play with proportions as you must, and remember that when doubling a recipe, double everything except the spices—be more carefully with those.
  3. In a large bowl, beat butter and 6 T white sugar for five minutes or so.
  4. Add the egg yolks and mix until everything’s smooth
  5. Add the buttermilk, lemon juice, lemon zest, and vanilla. Keep mixing.
  6. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt.
  7. Add dry mix to wet mix and combine thoroughly.
  8. In another separate bowl (sorry!), beat the egg whites and cream of tartar for a few minutes, “until soft peaks form”. When you pull your whisk from it, there should be a point remaining whose tip falls and leans to one side.
  9. Beat in the remaining 1 ½ tablespoons of white sugar and keep whisking until medium peaks form. This time, when you pull your whisk away, the iceberg tips should be more solid.
  10. Fold the egg white mixture into the big bowl and spread into the cake pan.
  11. Bake for 25-35 minutes, until a toothpick or the tines of a fork come out clean-ish (by which I mean not wet or totally covered in cake).
  12. Allow to cool and go make your frosting.
Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting
Zest of one lemon
8 oz cream cheese (softened)
4 c powdered sugar, give or take a cup
Tablespoon or so lemon juice

  1. Beat the cream cheese and lemon zest until combined.
  2. Add powdered sugar one cup at a time. The texture will be according to your personal preference.
  3. Add a tablespoon of lemon juice and keep mixing.
  4. If it’s too runny, add more powdered sugar. If it’s too stiff, add a TINY BIT more lemon juice.
  5. Frost your cake!

Now, I removed the cake from the pan as soon as I felt it was safe, and let it cool. Then I cut it into fourths and frosted each piece, slapped them on top of one another, and frosted the whole thing. Throw a slice of lemon on top and voila! You have a mega slice of cake. Of one cake. Please ignore the ugly raspberry thing sitting on top of the trash can.

This successful lemon cake is best enjoyed with a Carton of milk or Monseigneur’s chocolate and a good book.

1 comment:

  1. Baketress, I applaud your first entry. I know that I am a little late to the show but from what I have read I am excited to go on this adventure of bountiful baking and beautiful books with you. If a partially failed cake can entice me into your world then a perfect pastry will cause the whole world to turn their gaze towards you. I can't wait to keep reading.

    Your humble servant,

    Dorian Gray