Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Lemon-Strawberry Cake with Lemon Buttercream

Even though I always start pondering cake options weeks in advance of my birthday, I usually end up choosing something lemony or berry-filled or both, unless I decide on butterscotch. I always have to try something different, it’s never the same cake twice, but the flavors are usually similar. I’ve been enjoying baking from Flour since receiving a review copy last fall. Not only has everything from the book been completely delicious, the recipes have also just worked really well. Even if you have a standard approach to apple pie, and I did, the one from this book might change your mind about it. The techniques resulted in the best apple pie I’ve ever made. So, I’ve come to trust this book, and I’m thrilled that Joanne Chang is working on a second one. I knew there would be a good option for a birthday cake in Flour. The name of the cake in the book is lemon-raspberry cake with lemon buttercream, but I had fresh, local strawberries to use instead. It’s intended as a three layer cake with lemon curd mixed with buttercream and berries between each layer. I cut the quantity down to two layers for the cakes and stored the extra buttercream and lemon curd in the freezer for another use. This was a special occasion cake, meaning there are a few parts to making it, although none of them are difficult.

I started by making the lemon curd in advance, and I used meyer lemons for the juice. The next day, I made the cakes which began by creaming together butter and sugar and then adding vanilla and lemon zest. A mixture of flour, baking powder, and salt were added alternately with milk. Last, egg whites were beaten until they held peaks, and they were folded into the cake batter. While the cakes baked and cooled, I gathered ingredients for the French buttercream. First, a sugar syrup was made in a saucepan, and it was brought to 238 degrees F. Eggs and egg yolks were mixed in a stand mixer until pale, and then the syrup was slowly added to the eggs while mixing on low speed. Once all the syrup was added, the speed was increased to medium, and it was mixed until fluffy and cool. Next came the butter, and this was an obscene amount of butter. Three cups of butter were cut into chunks, and the chunks were slowly added while mixing until the buttercream became smooth and lovely. A pinch of salt was added, and the frosting was completed. One last item to make was the lemon syrup which was a mix of lemon juice, sugar, and water which was brought to a boil to dissolve the sugar and then left to cool. That lemon syrup was brushed on top of each cake layer before the filling and toppings were added. A little of the lemon curd was mixed with a little of the buttercream to make the filling that was placed between the cake layers. And, I need to pause for a moment while I remember that mixture of lemon curd and buttercream because it was delightful. I placed some of it in a plastic bag so I could pipe a quick circle of the mixture around the edge, and that held the berries in place preventing berry juice from running on the outside of the cake. Sliced strawberries were placed on the curd-buttercream layer inside the circle barrier. The other cake layer went on top, it was brushed with lemon syrup, and the remaining plain buttercream was used to frost the top and sides of the layers. Last, some lemon curd was spread on top of the cake, and I decorated with a few whole strawberries.

The cake met my requirements perfectly for lemony-ness and berry flavor. Lemon curd, buttercream, and fresh strawberries couldn’t possibly disappoint. The cake layers themselves were light as can be, and the brushed-on lemon syrup kept them from becoming dry. With the strawberries, it was a cake for spring, and I bet the lemon flavors would be great with blueberries too. I’m not sure I can top this, so I might have to bake the same cake again next year.


30 comments:

  1. A heavenly cake! Those flavors are so spring-like and divine.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  2. I need to get this book and make this cake. Lemon and strawberry is my favorite spring combination.

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  3. Delightful spring flavors with the lemon and strawberry! Yum!

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  4. First of all, happy birthday! Secondly, that cake looks like something that I see in the windows of the patisseries in my neighborhood. Can you save me a slice and we can have a birthday celebration when I see you?

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  5. From a severe cake-challenged person, you have my utmost admiration!

    I agree with you, very hard to top this cake, so maybe you can bake it again next year....

    I'm sure you had a wonderful celebration of your day

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  6. Happy birthday!! That cake looks DIVINE. I am so impressed with how pretty and even the layers are.

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  7. What a gorgeous cake! Happy Birthday:-)

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  8. Lisa, this is an absolutely decadent masterpiece! The layers of cake, cream, lemon curd and fruit is a heavenly amalgamation.

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  9. Truly a perfect birthday cake :) Now I'm inspired to make a whole cake! Looks like I need to get my hands on a copy of Flour ;)

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  10. Wow Lisa., the colours and flavours of this beauty are to die for. A wonderful choice.

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  11. What a wonderful cookbook. Lemon and strawberries are a tempting combo,love the colors as well.

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  12. It looks so beautiful. And that lovely cream and strawberries and decoration.. Really perfectly done :)

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  13. I'll bet that cake was divine- what with the "obscene" amount of butter! Hope you had a fantastic birthday and that you finished off the entire cake!

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  14. It must be getting closer to summer as I am seeing a lot of strawberries and lime and lemon baking adventures popping up! I love this cake, looks absolutely delicious. Plus I would choose lemon over butterscotch any day!

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  15. Almost a lemony lemon cake! Love it!

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  16. Hi, where can i find this recipe? this looks amazing!

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  17. Anonymous: I don't reprint copyrighted recipes from books, but I provide links to the source that was used.

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  18. Lemon is one of my favorite dessert flavors and so a lemon cake for a birthday sounds perfect to me! I really need to get this cookbook...I've heard so many good things about it!

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  19. That cake looks sooooo decadent, I just got some strawberries yesterday and I want to try something similar this weekend!

    I'm sorry I missed you last night at the triangle! Hope to see you again soon :)

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  20. i'm always jealous of those who can bake, and never more so when they make cakes I enjoyed as a child and am unlikely ever to taste again. My mum used to make a cracking strawberry buttercream sponge cake - like this, a variation on the typical English Victoria sponge cake, though nothing like as elegantly presented - that reminds me of damp weekend picnics and ants in my sandwiches. Like I said, happy memories.

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  21. You'll laugh, but at first I thought the top photo was one of those dainty Japanese tea sandwiches! You know, the kind made with that super airy bread that squishes down to nothing? Well, the fact that this is actually dessert makes it so much better! ;)

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  22. The cake is stunning! And packed with lemony goodness - I have been craving it like crazy lately! Happy Belated Birthday!

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  23. Lemon curd, buttercream, and fresh strawberries; holy heavenly!!!

    This cake sings Happy Birthday Lisa and Happy Spring too!!!

    Thank you so much for sharing...wishing you a delicious birthday:)

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  24. Wow! That looks like the perfect birthday cake and so perfect for this time of year. I think I am definitely going to have to add this cookbook to my collection!!

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  25. Happy birthday Lisa! This is actually really timely. Our beloved babysitter is turning 30 and I offered to do a party for her to celebrate. I asked what kind of cake she wanted and she said lemon. I showed her this cake and she got tears in her eyes. And you made it! Once again, we are on the same page. Glad to know that it is as good as it looks. I will use raspberries since we are still months away from strawberries here, and I know mine will not looks as gorgeous as yours!

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  26. Happy Birthday!! Oh goodness, I have a hugs batch of strawberries from the Poteet Strawberry Festival that would taste amazing in this cake...berries and lemon go so well together, lovely..I need to get a hold of this book!
    sweetlife

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  27. That looks pretty as a picture-like it belongs in a patisserie window! :D

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  28. how unique and spring-appropriate! this is a really outstanding cake, lisa--it delivers in appearance for sure, and no doubt in flavor as well.

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  29. Oh my goodness, this is outrageously gorgeous! What a cake! Now following cuz I don't think that I can live without your blog!

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  30. This is a divine combination and it looks so very beautiful.The texture of the cake looks beautifully spongy too. Strawberry Lemon screams spring time.

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