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Lemon cake recipe

Lemony Snicket: A series of fortunate events cake

This is step one, the lemon curd which needs a four-hour chill session in the fridge.

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.

Lemon curd

  • 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.

Step two, buttermilk lemon cake…I dare you not to lick the spoon

Lemon cake

  • 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.

Last step before some assembly required…the vanilla Swiss meringue buttercream

Buttercream icing

  • 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.

Some assembly required…

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.

This recipe is from Tessa Huff’s Layered with some re-branding. She calls it a Lemon Supreme….Check out this Vancouver cake-builder’s blog here.




















To Kill a Macaron or touring Paris covered in chocolate

Paris’ famous Laduree’s first Canadian store recently opened in Vancouver and sparked this nostalgic post. Their Paris store window is one of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. Can’t wait to see Vancouver’s this month.

With the idea that I’d rather spend my travel bucks on chocolate than a tour guide, which I’m not great at tolerating in any case, we found an online self-guided walking tour through Saint-Germain-des-Prés’ (6th arr.) most famous chocolate and pastry shops.

Stop one was Ladurée (21, rue Bonaparte). Get this…they invented the double-sided macaron — two almond meringue biscuits joined with various smooth ganache fillings. (This location on Bonaparte now houses their Secrets and Beauty store. Ladurée’s chocolate  is now at 14, rue de Castiglione (1st. are.)). They have been in business since 1862.

The person that created this window display at Arnaud Larher at 57 Rue Damremont, must be a master at Jenga. I will help if I can eat all the broken ones.

In case you’ve never tried a macaron, which kind of puts you in the category of never having heard of the Eiffel Tower, they come in an amazing array of melt-in-your-mouth flavours, including bitter chocolate, orange blossom, coffee, rose and my favourite, carmel with salted butter. After purchasing a beautifully boxed selection at Arnaud Larher, next up was Debauve & Gallais.

One more peak at the Laduree window…


A small conference regarding how many chocolates our suitcases will hold at the Debauve & Gallais window.

In operation at the same location (30, rue des Saints Pères) for more than 200 years, the boutique’s wood-panelled interior and semicircular chocolate counter momentarily distracted us from the chocolates. How chocolatey does this chocolate shop smell? Who says scent memory is strong?

One of each please. Signature items include chocolate pistoles, small discs of chocolate flavoured with yummy things like almond oil, bitter coffee, Bourbon vanilla and orange blossom.

How ironic. Debauve & Gallais started out as an 1800s health food store. The chocolate was used to make bitter medicines taste better and the chocolate was marketed as promoting vigour and health. Ok.

We also stopped in at Pierre Hermé at 72, rue Bonaparte, but by this time my camera was sticky with chocolate I had to focus solely on the pastries made by a fourth-generation pastry chef.

What? You guys eating chocolate? Street art on our walk in Saint-Germain
All that chocolate required some cafe.

After our four stops we got distracted by the street life and shopping and will have to go back to visit Gerard Mulot, Pierre Marcolini, and Chocolate de Neuville another time.

Lucky us, Ladurée has opened its first Canadian location on Robson Street in Vancouver. We are heading there in three weeks to run the marathon (Handyman) and the half (me) and plan to get a macaron fix after our run.

If you can’t make it to Paris or Vancouver, here is Ladurée’s recipe for Cake au Citron (lemon cake) which is flavoured with lemon…four ways…and a tiny bit of rum. It’s easy to make despite its fancy French heritage although be sure to poach your lemon slices the night before so they can soften nicely.

A “secret” Laduree lemon cake recipe

Poached lemon slices:

  • 3 lemons
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp granulated sugar

Lemon cake batter:

  • 5 tbsp + 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 2/3 cups + 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup minus 1 tbsp cream
  • 1 pinch coarse sea salt
  • 1 2/3 tbsp rum

Lemon syrup:

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup + 2tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup real lemon juice

Lemon glaze:

  • 2 oz. lemon jelly (or apricot jelly if you can’t find lemon)
  • 1 tbsp water

The night before baking, cut lemons into thin (2 mm) slices. Bring water and sugar to a simmer and add the slices. Poach over very low heat for 20 minutes. Don’t boil. Cool and then refrigerate for at least 12 hours.

Set aside six of the poached lemon slices for decoration. Drain the remaining slices and measure a 1/2 cup and cut each slice in half.

Butter a loaf pan, dust with flour and line with a rectangle of parchment paper to make the unmoulding easier.

Place the 5 tbsp of butter in a saucepan and melt over low heat.

Sift the flour and yeast into a small bowl. Grate the zest from the lemon and toss with the sugar in a large bowl. Add the eggs one at a time, while whisking. Continue to whisk and add the cream, salt and rum. Fold in the flour and yeast mixture, halved lemon slices and lukewarm melted butter.

Preheat oven to 410F. Fill the loaf pan with the batter to 2 cm below the rim. Place in the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven, and using a knife, make a slit lengthwise in the crust that has formed on top. You will use this slit to soak the cake in the lemon syrup later. Return the cake to the oven and then lower the oven temperature to 350F an bake for 45 minutes. When ready, a knife inserted in the cake should come out clean, dry and free of crumbs.

While the cake is baking, make the lemon syrup by bringing the water, sugar and lemon juice to a boil. Remove from heat.

Placing a cooling rack on a rimmed baking sheet. When the cake is done, remove from the mould and place on the rack. Bring the syrup to a simmer. Using a ladle, pour syrup over the cake and allow to soak in. Gather syrup from baking sheet and pour over cake. Repeat twice. Cool and then decorate with the reserved poached lemon slices.

To make the lemon glaze, stir together jelly and water. Lightly heat without boiling until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Coat cake with glaze.

This is an extraordinaryly lemony, lemon cake

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