Succot is almost here. It’s the week of non-stop entertaining, or, if you’re lucky, getting invited out and maybe having to make one thing for the meal. I love it when that happens to me because that’s when I get to invest a lot of energy in one dish that takes too much time to make when you’ve got a whole meal on your cooking agenda.
Lemon cakes are a favorite of mine. Their sweet tartness is the perfect way to round off a meal. This is a cake I eyed in the Better Home and Gardens New Cook Book for a very long time before taking it on because it is quite a bit of work. But if you’ve got something to celebrate, it’s a winner. I made this as a birthday cake for my father-in-law’s 80th birthday. It’s that kind of cake. I had made a dairy meal, which after all the meat eating we’ve been doing over Rosh Hashana is not a bad idea at all, and it was the perfect dessert.
Don’t be put off by the fact that it’s 3 layers – it makes it fun and it just means an extra round of baking if you have a European-sized oven, as I do. Make your own lemon curd – it’s not difficult and it’s so good when it’s fresh and home made. You can make it ahead of time and refrigerate it.
The result is a large, festive and delicious cake that feeds a whole bunch of people.
TRIPLE LAYER LEMON CAKE
½ cup sugar
1 tablespoon corn flour
1½ teaspoons lemon zest
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 tablespoons water
3 beaten egg yolks
¼ cup butter
How to do it
- In a small saucepan, stip together the sugar, cornflour, lemon juice, zest and water until you have a smooth mixture.
- Cook over medium heat until the mixture has thickened and is bubbling.
- Beat the yolks in a small bowl. Add half the lemon mixture to the bowl while stirring vigorously so that the yolks don’t curdle. When well combined, add the mixture back into the saucepan and cook over medium heat while constantly stirring until the mixture comes to a gentle boil (medium-sized bubbles). Continue cooking for a another 2-3 minutes until the mixture is nice and thick.
- Remove from the heat and add the butter, stirring until it’s fully melted.
- Cover the whole surface of the curd with plastic wrap – the plastic should be touching the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Chill for an hour or overnight if you want to make this ahead of time. If you do, when you take it out the next day, give it a good stir to loosen it up again.
1 cup butter
2 cups sugar
2 1/3 cups flour
1½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of salt
2 teaspoons lemon zest
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cup buttermilk
How to do it
- Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC (350ºF)
- Line 3 20 or 22 cm (8 or 9 inch) round cake pans with baking paper and spray them with non-stick spray. If you only have 2 then prepare them and you will keep aside one third of the cake mix and bake the third layer separately.
- In an electric mixer beat the butter for 30 second till softened. Add the lemon zest, juice and sugar and beat until well combined.
- Add the eggs one at a time on high speed till very well mixed – mixture should be fluffy.
- Turn the mixer down to low speed, add the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt alternately with the buttermilk, beating until just combined.
- Spread the mixture evenly between the baking pans. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool the layers on a cake rack for 15 minutes then turn them out and cool completely so they are ready for assembly.
Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting
180g (6 oz) cream cheese (at least 25% fat)
½ cup softened butter
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
Up to 4¾ cups powdered sugar
How to do it
- In a mixer, beat the cheese, butter and lemon juice on medium speed until light and fluffy
- Slowly add the powdered sugar until you have a good spreading consistency – the mixture should clump around the beater but be soft to the touch. It must not be running in any way.
Assembling the cake
- Turn out two of the cake layers, bottom side up (flat side). Give the lemon curd a mix so it’s spreadable and spread half the curd on the first layer. Place the second layer of cake round side down on top of the first. Spread the rest of the curd on top of that layer. Place the third layer round side up on top of the 2 layers.
- Frost the top and sides of the cake.