A series of fortunate events brought together my niece and family, including her 10-month-old blue-eyed lady-slayer, and the baby’s great-grandma all together for her 81st birthday. A fresh, light, three-layered Lemony Snicket buttermilk cake is just the ticket. Lemon buttermilk cake, glued together with lemon curd, soaked in lemon syrup and topped with a luxuriously buttery, vanilla swiss meringue buttercream icing is a worthwhile afternoon’s bake-a-thon.
- 5 tablespoons butter, diced
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 5 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, don’t even think about bottled
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1 large egg
Place the butter in a heat-proof bowl and set aside. Whisk together the sugar, lemon juice, egg yolks and egg in a medium sauce pan and cook over medium heat stirring to prevent the eggs from curdling. Cook about 6 to 8 minutes until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove from the heat and strain it through a sieve over the bowl containing the butter. Sir to combine and cover with plastic wrap touching the curd to prevent a nasty skin from forming and put in the fridge for about 4 hours to cool and set.
- butter and flour three 6-inch cake pans
- 2 1/4 cup cake flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
- 3/4 cup butter at room temperature
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 3 large eggs
- 2 egg whites
- 1 cup buttermilk
Pre-heat oven to 350F. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and set aside. Place the sugar and lemon zest in a bowl and rub them together. In the bowl of a stand-mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add the sugar mixture and mix on medium-high until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl. Turn the mixer to medium-low and add the lemon juice, vanilla, eggs and egg whites, one at a time. Stop the bowl and scrape it down. Turn the mixture on low and add the flour mixture in three batches, alternating with the buttermilk. Just mix until combined, about 30 seconds or so. Evenly divide the batter into prepared 6-inch pans and bake for 22 to 24 minutes checking with a toothpick for doneness. Cool for 15 minutes on a rack before removing the cakes from the pans.
Lemon simple syrup
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
Stir all the ingredients together in saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Cool.
- 1/2 cup egg whites
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 cups butter at room temperature cubed
- 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- Yellow food colouring
Place the egg whites and sugar in the bowl of a stand-mixer and whisk together by hand and place over a medium saucepan filled with a few inches of water to create a double boiler. The bottom of the bowl should not touch the water. Whisk intermittently and heat until it registers 160F or until it is hot to the touch. Fit it onto your stand mixer and with the whisk attachment, beat on high for 8 to 10 minutes. Stop the mixer and swap out the whisk for the paddle and turn the mixer to low. Add the butter lumps a few at a time and then the vanilla and beat for 3 to 5 minutes until very smooth. Add a tiny bit of yellow food colouring a bit at a time until you achieve a pale yellow colour.
Level the cakes and select one for the bottom layer. Using a pastry brush, brush the top of each cake with the lemon syrup. Pipe a line of buttercream around the top edge of the first layer to create a dam. Fill in with half of the lemon curd, top with a second layer and repeat the procedure using the rest of the lemon curd. Add the final layer. Crumb coat and frost the cake with buttercream and decorate with sugar pearls if you want to get fancy.