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Light Lemon Layer Cake

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Anna Olson, Level 25
Anna Olson
Welcome to Anna Olson's Quintessential Cakes Series! Over this series of 10 recipes, you will be taught all the fundamental techniques and methods to create perfect cakes every time. In the eighth episode, you will be shown how to make a delicious light and refreshing lemon layer cake, this cake is subtly lemon-flavored, with the zest adding the lemon flavor and the buttermilk supporting a gentle tartness. This is intentionally designed so that the lemon curd filling stands out in color and in lemon intensity. So get ready to get baking and join Anna Olson in this Grokker Premium Video, as she helps you to master her Quintessential Cakes.

Cooking Recipe

Makes: 1 8-inch layer cake
Serves: 10 to 12

1 ½ cups sugar
1 Tbsp finely grated lemon zest
2 cups + 2 Tbsp cake & pastry flour (soft flour)
1 Tbsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
½ cup unsalted butter at room temperature, cut into pieces
1 ¼ cups buttermilk at room temperature
4 egg whites at room temperature (save the yolks for the Lemon Curd recipe below)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 recipe lemon butter cream
1 recipe lemon curd

Lemon Curd:
Makes: about 1 ¼ cups

2/3 cup sugar (caster sugar)
½ cup fresh lemon juice
2 tsp finely grated lemon zest
2 egg yolks
1 whole egg
½ cup unsalted butter at room temperature

Lemon Buttercream:
Makes: about 4 cups

1 cup sugar (caster sugar)
4 egg whites
1 ½ cups unsalted butter at room temperature
¼ cup lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175 °C). Grease 3 8-inch cake pans and line the bottom of each pan with parchment paper, and sprinkle the sides of the pans with sugar, tapping out any excess.

2. In a large mixing bowl using electric beaters or in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the sugar and lemon zest (the friction of the sugar brings out the lemon flavor in the zest). Sift in the flour, baking powder and salt and blend in. Add the butter and blend in until no large pieces of butter are visible. In a separate bowl, whisk the buttermilk, egg whites and vanilla and add these all at once to the batter. Mix on low speed for a minute to blend, then increase the speed to medium-high and beat until the batter is light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Divide the batter evenly between the 3 pans and spread to level. Bake the cake for 30 to 35 minutes, until a tester inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean. Cool the cakes for 20 minutes in the pan, then turn out to cool completely.

3. To assemble the cake, peel away the parchment paper and place the first cake layer onto a platter. Spoon a cupful of buttercream into a piping bag fitted with a plain tip and pipe a ring of buttercream on the top outside edge of the cake. Spoon a generous ½ cup of the lemon curd into the centre of the cake and spread it evenly. Place the second cake layer on top of the curd and repeat the step with the buttercream and lemon curd. Top with the third cake layer. Ice the top and sides of the cake with the buttercream, and pipe any details you wish (or garnish with fresh berries). Chill the cake to set the buttercream.

The cake should be stored refrigerated for up to 2 days, but is best enjoyed pulled from the fridge 30 minutes to an hour before serving.

Lemon Curd:
1. Whisk the sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest, egg yolks and whole egg together in a metal bowl. Place the bowl over a pot of simmering water and gently whisk the mixture by hand (you do not need to whisk quickly, and can even step away now and again) until thickened to the point that the curd leaves a “ribbon” on top of itself when the whisk is lifted, about 15 minutes.

2. Remove the curd from the heat and strain into a bowl. Whisk in the butter until it melts in completely, and then chill the curd until it has set, about 2 hours.

3. The curd will keep for up to a week refrigerated.

This curd can also double as a rich filling for a lemon tart (a little too rich and delicate for a lemon meringue pie, though), or can simply be served alongside fresh berries.

Lemon Buttercream:
This style of buttercream is smooth and silky and holds its shape well, making it ideal for piping or decorating.

1. Whisk the sugar and egg whites together in a metal bowl. Place the bowl over a pot of simmering water and whisk by hand until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is hot, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat.

2. Switch to electric beaters (or a stand mixer) and whip the whites until they have cooled to room temperature (they will more than double in volume), about 6 minutes. Add the butter a little at a time while beating, then mix in the lemon juice and vanilla and beat until the frosting is smooth and fluffy.

3. The frosting will keep refrigerated for up to a week.

Use the frosting at room temperature. If you wish to make the frosting ahead of time, chill it to store, but then bring to room temperature and beat to make smooth and spreadable.

While a cake made with this buttercream should be kept refrigerated, it is best enjoyed when eaten after it has sat out for 30 minutes to an hour – the frosting softens nicely, making it easy to slice and serve and melts easily when you take a bite.


Light Lemon Layer Cake
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