Monday, July 18, 2011

Lemon Raspberry Cake With Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

Hey guys, happy Monday! :D

My sister’s birthday was 2 days ago and she just turned 21! For dinner, she requested steak, mashed sweet potatoes, fried okra, and fresh tomatoes to be prepared by my mom. And since she was turning the big 2-1, she requested that my dad make her a glass of his famous margaritas :P
Awesome margarita glasses, right?

And here's the spread. My mom bought possibly the hugest steaks possible and even though she gave me the smallest one I still had to cut it nearly in half!
My place is where the green cup is; huge right?!

The tomatoes and okra where from the farmers market that my sister and my mom bought earlier that day. My dad "fried" the okra by mixing the sliced okra with one beaten egg and enough corn meal to coat. He then cooked them in a pan sprayed with olive oil; stirring occasionally, until everything was cooked and crisped up. So good with ketchup!

I made a simple chimichurri sauce (minced parsley, garlic, vinegar, olive oil, salt , pepper) to go with the steaks.

It was a beautiful spread-
Of course, my sister put me in charge of the dessert (and if she didn't, I would probably get upset because making cakes are possibly one of my favorite things to do!). She didn't request anything specific so I just went on what I thought she would like. She's a HUGE fruit and lemon fan (just like me!) so I knew I couldn't go wrong with a cake that accenstuated both of those flavors.

Enter Lemon Cake with Raspberry and Lemon Curd Filling with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting!
Man, that's a mouthfull!

I dreamt up this cake idea while I was at the gym and knew it would be perfect. I then found a lemon cake recipe that I could use, a frosting recipe to base mine off of, and then used my own recipe for the lemon curd and raspberry fillings.

My sister, posing with my cake and the flowers my dad got her:
 Excited to dig in? I think yes (:
And finally, I was able to see the fruits of my labor after I took out the first slice of cake.
Everyone ooed and awed. Hello, layers!
It's really only two layers of cake, but I cut them both in half to make 4 layers. Fancy!

After taking pictures, I decided the best plan of attack for eating this thing would be to turn it in on its side since it was so tall.
Twas a good idea :D

This cake was so perfect for a hot summer day. Very refreshing and not heavy. The lemony cake layers are light in texture because the recipe requires you to whip the egg whites (and nix the yolks) before folding them into the batter. The raspberry layers add a hint of fruity sweetness to each bite while the lemon curd layer adds that extra sour lemony zing. Then, to finish it off there's that wonderfully creamy, dense frosting that is just barely sweet and has just a hint of lemon flavor that ties everything together. It was perfect!

With my modifications, this cake is lower in fat than most and isn't cloyingly sweet although you'd think it would be with all of those layers. There's a lot of steps but in the end you get a very beautiful cake, so I think it's worth it! You can also modify it using any berry you want. This would be fabulous with strawberry jam or blueberry jam as well!

Lemon Cake with Raspberry Filling and Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting
Cake portion adapted from this recipe; everything else my own.
Serves 8
For the cake:
9-1/4 oz. (2-1/3 cups) cake flour; more for the pans
2-3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 Tbs. lightly packed finely grated lemon zest
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, completely softened at room temperature
6 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce, room temperature
1 cup milk, at room temperature (low-fat is fine)
5 large egg whites, at room temperature
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar

For the filling:
1/3 cup homemade lemon curd, chilled (see below)
2/3 cup low sugar or no sugar added raspberry jam

For the frosting:
9 ounces 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
6 tablespoons butter
1 1/3 cup confectioners' sugar
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon lemon juice
dash of salt
1 tablespoon homemade lemon curd (see below)

Make the cake:
Position a rack in the middle of the oven; heat the oven to 350°F. Generously butter and flour two 8 x 2-inch round cake pans. Sift the cake flour, baking powder, and salt together into a medium bowl. Pulse 1/4 cup of the sugar with the zest in a food processor until well combined.

In a large bowl, beat the butter and lemon sugar with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy (about 1-1/2 minutes). Add the remaining 1-1/4 cups sugar and applesauce and beat until smooth (about 1-1/2 minutes). Beat in a quarter of the milk just until blended. On low speed, add the flour mixture alternately with the milk in three batches, scraping the bowl with a rubber spatula; beat just until blended.

In another large bowl, beat the egg whites with an electric mixer (with clean beaters or the whip attachment) on medium speed just until foamy. Add the cream of tartar, increase the speed to medium high, and beat just until the whites form stiff peaks when the beaters are lifted. Add a quarter of the whites to the batter and gently fold them in with a whisk or a rubber spatula; continue to gently fold in the whites, a quarter at a time, being careful not to deflate the mixture.

Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. Smooth the tops with the spatula. Bake until a pick inserted in the centers comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool in the pans on a rack for 10 minutes. Run a table knife around the inside of the pans and carefully invert each cake out onto the rack. Flip them right side up and let cool completely.

With the palm of one hand pressed on top of a cake layer, cut each in half horizontally, using a long serrated knife. Put one of the four cake layers on a serving plate, cut side up. With an offset spatula or a table knife, spread a heaping 1/3 cup raspberry jam on top of the cake layer. Lay another cake layer on top, spread it with 1/3 cup lemon curd (you will not use all of the homemade lemon curd, but will use most of it), and repeat with the third cake layer, using another heaping 1/3 cup raspberry jam. Top with the fourth cake layer.

Make the frosting:
In an electric mixer beat the cream cheese and butter on high until smooth. Then add confectioners' sugar. Continue to beat on high until the lumps have all dissolve. Finally, beat in vanilla extract, lemon curd, a dash of salt, and lemon juice on low speed until the frosting is completely mixed. (You can make the frosting a couple of hours ahead and store it in the fridge.)

Frost the cake:
Up to a few hours before serving, spread a thin layer of frosting on the cake, filling in any gaps as you go. Chill until the frosting firms a bit, about 1/2 hour. (This "crumb coat" will keep crumbs from catching on your spatula and marring the finished cake.)

Spread the remaining frosting decoratively over the top and sides of the cake. Scatter with bits of lemon zest or garnish with fresh raspberries.  

Low-Fat Lemon Curd Recipe
Adapted from Baking Bites
1/3 cup strained fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons lemon zest
1 egg, room temperature
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla

In a small sauce pan, over medium heat, combine sugar, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Stir until sugar is dissolved completely.

In a medium bowl, lightly beat egg. Whisking constantly (or with an electric mixer on low), very slowly stream the hot lemon-sugar syrup into the egg. Beat for 2 minutes (only 1 if you’re using a mixer), then transfer back into the saucepan by pouring the mixture through a sieve.

Cook over low heat, stirring constantly until the curd has thickened but is still a bit runnier than you want it to be (because it will firm up in the fridge). Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.

Transfer to a small airtight container and store in the fridge. Makes about 1/2 cup.

Feel free to use store bought lemon curd, but this recipe is much healthier and oh so sour! (in a good way)

It also helps if you do a few things in advance. You can make the lemon curd days in advance and make the frosting while the cakes are cooling. After that, its just cut and assemble! Also one more note- I used all organic lemons in this cake and for the curd because there's a lot of zest going into this thing. I highly recommend going the extra step and using organic lemons; they're remarkably cheap when you buy them in 2 pound bags! I also used organic raspberries that I got at Costco for $3.99 for a big 12 ounces container. Score!

And obviously, the cake didn't even stand a chance in our household (:
Didn't even last 24 hours...

And what does one do with leftover organic lemons, raspberries, and egg yolks? Make raspberry lemon bars! I've made the blueberry lemon bar version two times since I first made them at the end of June and have the raspberry version chilling in the fridge right now for dessert tonight. Can't wait!
<3 Carlyn

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