Saturday, October 4, 2008

Luscious Lemon Layer Cake

I love lemon and I love raspberry, so what is more logical than to put them together in a sweet creation? I made this for my friend's birthday earlier this week and it was a big hit. It takes some planning, since the lemon curd needs to chill for a few hours, but it is not difficult to make and is well worth the effort. The frosting was deemed "the best ever" by several of the ladies I served it to.

Lemon curd is one of my favorite dessert bases. I use it by itself or whipped with some cream cheese as a tart filling, as a frosting base, as sandwich cookie filling, on sourdough toast or fresh scones, straight out of the bowl with a's really delicious and versatile. I use the recipe from the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook, you know, the red and white checkered cover one that you probably got for your wedding like I did. It has never failed me.

Lemon curd:

1 cup sugar

2 T. cornstarch

3 t. finely shredded lemon peel

6 T. lemon juice (freshly sqeezed!)

6 T. water

6 beaten egg yolks (reserve the whites for the cake)

1/2 cup butter, cut up into pieces

In a medium saucepan, stir together sugar and cornstarch. Stir in lemon juice and water. Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened and bubbly. Stir half of the lemon mixture into the egg yolks, then return the egg yolk mixture to the saucepan. Cook and stir over medium heat until the mixture comes to a gentle boil. Cook and stir for 2 minutes more, then remove from heat.

Add butter pieces, stirring until melted. Cover surface of the curd with plastic wrap. Chill at least 1 hour, or for up to 48 hours. May be stored tightly covered in the fridge for up to 1 week, or frozen for up to 2 months. For the purposes of this recipe, chill at least 2-3 hours.

White cake:

1 Duncan Hines white cake mix

water, oil and egg whites as called for on the box

1/2 cup sour cream

zest of 1 lemon

Beat all ingredients together until smooth and pour into two greased and floured 8 inch round cake pans. Bake as indicated, then remove to wire racks to cool completely. These may be made in advance and stored with wax paper between the layers until ready to assemble the cake.

Place a medium mixing bowl (glass is best) and beaters in the freezer, and set out an 8 ounce brick of cream cheese to soften at room temperature. Split each cake layer in half to form a total of four cake layers. If the cakes are humped on top, trim the excess to ensure a flat layer. A serated knife works well for this task. Place the first layer on the serving plate and spread a thin layer of lemon curd, then layer the next cake and repeat until all four layers are stacked. This should take approximately half to 2/3 of the lemon curd. Reserve the remaining curd to make the frosting.


remaining lemon curd

1 - 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1 8 ounce brick cream cheese

2 cups heavy whipping cream

Do NOT soften the cream cheese in the microwave. I have found this results in a sloppy slurpy frosting. Be patient and plan ahead enough to allow it to sit out at room temperature for 30 minutes. Beat the lemon curd and cream cheese until smooth, then beat in the powdered sugar. In the chilled bowl, beat the whipping cream until moderately stiff peaks form, then fold in the lemon curd mixture until well combined. You may wish to add a bit more sugar to taste.

Frost the top and sides of the cake and pipe a border if desired. Garnish with fresh raspberries, or with raspberry puree. I made my raspberry puree thick enough to pipe designs.

1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries (thawed)

1-2 T. sugar

1 T. cornstarch

Mash the berries, then press them through a sieve to remove the seeds. Whisk the cornstarch and sugar into the cold juice, then cook in a small saucepan over medium heat until thickened and bubbly. Remove from heat and chill until ready to decorate the cake.

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