A Tour Down the Eaten Path

Cake Days

It was the week of cakes and the month of birthdays. From early January to early February there are a combined, seven birthdays in my immediate family, three of which land on the same day. Conveniently, cakes have been the focus at school these last few weeks. Since we have some practical cake baking and decorating exams coming up, I thought it best I get in a little practice.

One birthday guy got a girly cake, that despite my husbands astounding, opposing forces, homemade cake carrier creation, still fell over in the car when we turned off the highway. For about 5 minutes after that I imagined all the bakers of the world crying a little bit. 

It still tasted good. It’s the eating part that’s a cake walk.

Lemon Curd Sponge Cake

For the Genoise sponge cake:

5 eggs

132g sugar (berry or granulated)

95g cake flour

38g cornstarch

32g vegetable oil

Pre heat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray an 8” round pan with cooking spray. If you do not have a spring for version, be sure to cut out a piece of parchment to lay on top of the sprayed pan as well.

Over a Bain Marie, warm eggs and sugar to 110 degrees Fahrenheit. Stir the egg sugar mixture while it’s warming to avoid cooking the eggs. Once it hits 110, pour it into your mixing bowl and with the whisk attachment, whip on high speed for about 7-8 minutes or until the meringue is stiff, shiny and is no longer warm. Turn the mixer down to a medium speed and continue to whip for an additional 4-5 minutes.

Sift in the flour and cornstarch in 3-4 stages and gently fold it into the meringue mixture by hand, ensuring there are no flour clumps. Don’t be afraid about deflating the meringue as you work. You do want to have it deflate somewhat.

When the flour is fully incorporated, pour the batter into your prepared pan and bake immediately.

Bake for about 15-20 minutes until golden brown on top. The cake is ready to be pulled from the oven when it is pulling away from the sides and it springs back after you touch it. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove it to cook on a wire rack.

You can store in the refrigerator for up to a few weeks if it is well wrapped.

For the lemon buttercream:

1 cup sugar

5 large egg whites

3 sticks (1 ½ cups) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 1/2 tsp lemon oil (to taste)

1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

In a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, whisk egg whites and sugar constantly. Keeping the mixture over the heat, until it feels hot to the touch, about 3 minutes. You want the sugar to be dissolved and the mixture will look like marshmallow cream (temperature should be about 238-240F). Transfer the mixture to your mixing bowl and with the whisk attachment beat the meringue on medium speed until it cools and forms a shiny thick meringue, about 5-6 minutes. Switch to the paddle attachment and add the butter, a few tablespoons at a time. When all the butter has been added and is fully incorporated add the lemon oil and vanilla extract. Beat the buttercream on medium-high speed until it is thick and very smooth, about 7-8 minutes. Cover and set aside.

For the lemon curd:

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

3 Tbls unsalted butter

3 large eggs

1 large egg yolk

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/4 tsp vanilla extract

1/8 tsp salt

In a heavy saucepan, heat lemon juice and butter over medium-high heat. Bring it to barely a boil.

In a separate heat proof bowl, whisk eggs, egg yolk and sugar together until smooth. Slowly pour the hot lemon mixture into the sugar and eggs while whisking rapidly.

Return the lemon/egg mixture to the saucepan over a medium heat and stir constantly for the next 2-4 minutes. The curd will begin to thicken after about 2 minutes. To test whether the curd is ready, dip a spoon into the pot and draw your finger along the underside. When curd holds the trail pull it off the heat and transfer to a bowl.

Add the vanilla and salt and whisk until combined. Set aside.

For the simple syrup:

200g sugar

250 g water

1 orange

In a heavy saucepan, heat the sugar, water and a few slice of orange. Bring it to a boil and then remove from the heat. Let it cool, then transfer it to a jar and store in the refrigerator until needed.

Assemble the cake:

Slice the cake into 3 equal pieces. Flip the middle and top pieces upside down to help flatten out the top of the cake. Brush the bottom layer with simple syrup then spread a good layer of lemon curd evenly. Place the middle cake round on top. Brush a coat of simple syrup on the second cake round and spread another good layer of lemon curd. Place the last cake piece on top and add a coat of simple syrup on top. Using the lemon flavoured buttercream, crumb coat the cake. 

Place the cake in the fridge for at least 30 minutes or the freezer for 10 minutes. 

When the crumb coat is set, pull cake from the freezer/fridge and cover with buttercream. Decorate however you like!

Serves 8

Genoise Sponge recipe from SAIT curriculum

Buttercream Recipe altered from Tartlette

Lemon Curd Recipe from Fine Cooking

Photos and cake inspiration by Maggie Murphy

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