Anyone who dislikes lemon should be persecuted. Nah, it’s their loss not being able to appreciate the tartness of a lemon. Obviously, I am a lemon lover.
I admit that I tend to over-lemon dishes that would require just a tablespoon of lemon juice or maybe zest of half a lemon, but the freshness it lends to the plate is a welcome addition to some vinaigrette or tartare sauce. Every time I order an item with the word lemon in it, I expect lemon. As in LEMON.
It was my natal day two
days months ago and I decided to give in to having pizza, pasta, salad and cake for my birthday dinner. Take note, we had monster pizza, a gargantuan 36-inch pizza with eight different flavours sliced to party squares with different sauces to choose from. With a green salad of lettuce, arugula, tomatoes, cucumber and a red wine vinegar vinaigrette that complemented well with the pizza, I also prepared Spaghetti Bolognese. What excited me was the cake. It took me 2 days to finish the lemon pièce de résistance. A day to bake and chill the cake, and then another day, or maybe half, to torte, fill and frost it. It is a Lemon Cake with Raspberry Filling and Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting.
Armed with 8 rinsed lemons, 2 bottles of raspberry preserves (we do not have raspberries in the Philippines. Spare me!), and a block of cream cheese, I was able to finish the 3-layer lemon monster in time for dinner. As we devoured our way through the pizza, pasta and salad, I personally made sure to make room for dessert. Anticipating that my mom hates lemon, I gave her a tiny slice of it. She hated it. More for me! It was the ultimate lemon cake that I have every tasted or made. It is definitely an ode to the fruit. The tartness was not a kick but a punch to the gut, which I liked very much. The red raspberry filling gave the near-white cake that red color in the middle and the added texture from the seeds and the tartness from the fruit itself. It was a wonderful combination – classic. I will be making this again, but maybe in loaf pans originally intended by Ina Garten.
I made use of the cake recipe and made my own lemon syrup to drown the cake with, with the intention of exterminating any non-lemon lover who would take a bite off the cake. Kidding. Recipe for the Cream Cheese frosting will be featured in another post, however, it is available upon request if you are in need of it right away. Just let me know. You can reach me through the I Declare. I am ‘Chef’. tab and email me.
Adapted from Ina Garten
Makes one 9-inch two-layer cake or in Ina’s recipe, 2 loaves
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 1/2 cups granulated sugar, divided
4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1/3 cup grated lemon zest (6 to 8 large lemons)
3 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, divided
3/4 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour 2 (8 1/2 by 4 1/4 by 2 1/2-inch) loaf pans. You may also line the bottom with parchment paper, if desired.
Cream the butter and 2 cups granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. With the mixer on medium speed, add the eggs, 1 at a time, and the lemon zest.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. In another bowl, combine 1/4 cup lemon juice, the buttermilk, and vanilla. Add the flour and buttermilk mixtures alternately to the batter, beginning and ending with the flour. Divide the batter evenly between the pans, smooth the tops, and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until a cake tester comes out clean.
Combine 1/2 cup granulated sugar with 1/2 cup lemon juice in a small saucepan and cook over low heat until the sugar dissolves. When the cakes are done, allow to cool for 10 minutes. Remove the cakes from the pans and set them on a rack set over a tray or sheet pan; spoon the lemon syrup over them. Allow the cakes to cool completely.