For All the Lemon Lovers

I would say that I have a conditional case of OCD, there are some things that I obsess over when I do and need them to be perfect: One of those things is cakes.  Cakes are tricky not only for their decorating, but also because you can’t ever be certain how they turned out until you’re handing out slices to your guests.   I was a nervous Nancy about this cake, but it ended up turning out great.  For all of the lemon lovers out there, this is a cake you must try.  It’s a perfect cake for after a big dinner, although it has three cake layers and frosting, you end up finding the lemon refreshing and not too heavy of a dessert.  The cake is a three layer classic white cake with lemon curd in between the layers.  For the frosting, I failed on the marshmallow-like icing the recipe called for and decided to go with a classic buttercream frosting instead that worked just as well.  I made this cake for my boyfriend’s parents’ anniversary party, so my frosting got a little disheveled in the car ride down, still tasted the same at least!

1-2-3-4 Cake

Yield: 3 9-inch layers (for the purpose of this cake) or 24 cupcakes (good to know, eh?)

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
3 cups sifted self-rising flour*
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350°F. Using an electric mixer, cream butter until fluffy. Add sugar and continue to cream well for 6 to 8 minutes. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add flour and milk alternately to creamed mixture, beginning and ending with flour. Add vanilla and continue to beat until just mixed. Divide batter equally among prepared pans. Level batter in each pan by holding pan 3 or 4-inches above counter, then dropping flat onto counter. Do this several times to release air bubbles and assure you of a more level cake. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until a tester or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean (start checking at 15 minutes if you are making cupcakes).

* Self-rising flour has both salt and baking powder in it, but you can make your own at home with the following formula: 1 cup self-rising flour = 1 cup all-purpose flour, minus 2 teaspoons + 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder + 1/2 teaspoon salt.

Lemon Curd
Adapted from The Joy of Cooking

This lemon curd was great on the cake, but we found ourselves wanting to add it to as many other treats as possible since I made it ahead of time. I think it would be great drizzled over some blueberry scones…

8 egg yolks
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
3 lemons, zest grated and juiced
Place the ingredients in the double boiler over boiling water. Don’t let top pan touch the water. Cook and stir until mixture begins to gel or thicken ever-so-slightly. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Cover and refrigerate it to thicken.

This keeps, refrigerated, for about 1 week.

Buttercream Frosting

3 tablespoons butter, softened
2 1/3 cups sifted powdered sugar
2 tablespoons milk
dash salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cream butter, gradually add powdered sugar while beating.  Beat in milk, add dash of salt and vanilla.