Like the saying goes, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. Or in my case, lemon coconut macaroons, chiffon cake, sables au citron, lemon bars, french yogurt cake and this lemon curd cake from Emily Luchetti. It's not a cake with alternating layers of cake and curd like the name may imply. Instead the lemon curd is incorporated into the batter.
I learned to make this cake about 10 years ago when I attended a baking class taught by Emily Luchetti in Berkeley, California. I don't remember much about the class itself, but I do remember loving the cake (and the other desserts) she made for us. Of course, I went home, signed cookbook in tow, and proceeded to make the cake for my family. They thought it was just a plain 'ole lemon cake but, as a lemon lover, I knew it was so much more.
There's an almost custard-like quality to this cake which I can only assume comes from the addition of lemon curd to the cake batter. The cake's appearance is so simple, but the taste just screams "lemon". It can take you by surprise if you're not expecting it. My co-worker said that it was so lemony that it couldn't be made from real lemons. But I assured her that no artificial flavorings were involved. Just the goodness of fresh lemons.
And I want to thank my dear husband for taking care of our meyer lemon tree so that it can continue to produce tons of juicy fragrant lemons year after year. I might complain about the abundance of lemons but it's better than complaining about not having enough. And there is something so satisfying knowing that we grew them ourselves.
When he pruned the tree last month, we got over 50 pounds of lemons. Yup, we weighed them. That's not bad for a couple of city folk with one tiny little tree. Our meyer lemons aren't pretty to look at but, boy, do they taste good! We had a lot of people willing to take them off our hands and the lemons were all gone in a blink of the eye. Hopefully this will be last time I post something lemon until next season's crop. Although I can't be 100% sure since we still have fruit on the tree.
before (above) and after (below) pruning
Lemon Curd Cake
(from Emily Luchetti's Four-Star Desserts)
4 large egg yolks
2 large eggs
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 cups sifted cake flour
2 1/4 cup granulated sugar (divided into 3/4 cup & 1 1/2 cup)
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
4 tbsp (=half stick=2 oz) unsalted butter, softened at room temp.
3 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tsp finely grated lemon zest
6 large egg whites
To make the lemon curd
Fill a medium pot 1/3 full of water and bring to a very low boil.
In a medium heatproof bowl whisk together egg yolks, egg, 1/2 cup sugar. Whisk in 1/2 cup lemon juice.
Set the bowl over the pot of water making sure water doesn't touch the bottom of the bowl. Cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture is thick, about 10 minutes.
Strain the curd into a bowl. Place plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the curd (to prevent a skin from forming). Chill curd until cold (but it's okay to chill it until it's cooled down to room temperature).
To make the cake
Preheat oven to 325F. Butter and flour a 9-inch round x 3-inch high cake pan.
Sift together cake flour, 3/4 cup sugar, baking powder, and salt. Set aside dry ingredients.
In a large mixing bowl, mix together butter, lemon juice, zest, and cooled lemon curd. Stir in dry ingredients.
Using the whisk attachment, in the bowl of a stand mixer beat the egg whites on medium speed until frothy. Increase speed to high and gradually add the 1 1/2 cup sugar. Whip until soft peaks form. Gently fold the whipped egg whites into batter.
Spread batter into you prepared cake pan. Bake at 325F until cake tester comes out clean, about 50-60 minutes. Cool on rack and then remove cake from pan.
Dust with 1 tablespoon powdered sugar if desired.