I'll be honest and say 90% of me doesn't remember what this cake tastes like, because it has been three months since I made it. But it's okay, because 10% of me remembers it was lemony and tangy and delicious af. Pleeaase accept it as a peace offering for my leave of absence.
That is to say, I've missed you guys and I'm back! And now that I'm out of dorms and in an apartment with a fully functioning kitchen, you can expect more regular posts throughout the year. Apartment life is great, mostly because of the three fantastic humans with whom I now coexist, plus our array of domestic house-pets: two shrimp, two miniature cacti, and two alpaca (magnets).
Speaking of our alpacas, I'm trying to make Weekly Alpaca Puns a thing. Turns out I was overly optimistic about the number of puns that go with "alpaca"....please help a sista out and leave your best one-liners in the comments below.
Since the last time we spoke, I also started working at a super hip bakery in downtown Cville that makes cookies the size of your face! I've always wanted to get experience working at an actual bakery, and this one is the BOMB. Everything there is so ridiculously good, and seeing the magic that goes on in a professional kitchen has been fascinating (I have never laid eyes on so much butter and sugar in my life). To top it all off, all the loot I'm bringing home in the form of extra pastries from the "trash tray" has been winning me the title of Apartment MVP, booyah!
Gotta say, it's been harder than I expected. After three weeks, I am finally recovering from the shame of my first-day blunders, like the time a customer asked for a lemon tart so I grabbed the tray but accidentally dropped it and all the desserts went crashing to the floor and frosting flew everywhere and we had to throw away about twenty pastries. But hey - I'm still employed! (until my boss discovers this post??)
Anyways, in honor of the new year I offer to you a cake that is light and lemony, with a fantastic homemade blueberry curd and just the right amount of sweetness. Shoutout to my wonderful friend Glocho for inspiring the lemon-blueberry combo! I made it for my dad's birthday, a change from his usual rainbow-cake requests, and now I share it with you. Enjoy!
Lemon Vanilla Layer Cake with Blueberry Curd
Makes one four-layer 8-inch cake
For the lemon cake:
2 and 1/3 cups cake flour + more for the pans (you can make your own cake flour too)
2 and 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoons salt
1 and 3/4 cups sugar
2 Tablespoons lemon zest
3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup whole milk, room temperature
5 large egg whites, room temperature
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 recipe blueberry curd
For the vanilla bean frosting:
1 cup (two sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
3 and 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1-3 Tablespoons milk
1 vanilla bean
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Make the cake! Place oven rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat to 350 degrees F. Generously grease and flour two 8 x 2-inch round cake pans (I like to grease the bottom, then line it with a circle of parchment paper and grease/flour again. Helps the cake to pop right out once it's done). Sift together the cake flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Pulse 1/4 cup of the sugar with lemon zest in a food processor until well combined.
In a large bowl, beat together the butter and lemon sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the remaining 1 and 1/2 cups of sugar and beat for another 90 seconds. Beat in a quarter of the milk until just blended. Keeping the mixer on low speed, alternate adding the flour mixture and milk in three batches, making sure to scrape the sides of the bowl. Beat until just blended.
In another large bowl, beat the egg whites with electric mixer on medium speed until just foamy. Make sure to use clean beaters. Add the cream of tartar, increase the speed to medium high, and beat just until stiff peaks are formed. You can test this by lifting the beaters out of the mixture and seeing if the peaks hold. Add a quarter of the whites to the batter and gently fold them in using a whisk or rubber spatula. Slowly fold in the rest of the whites, being careful not to deflate the mixture.
Split up the batter evenly into the two prepared pans, smoothing the tops with a spatula. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centers comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cakes cool in the pans on a rack for 10 minutes. Run a knife along the edges of the pans and carefully invert each cake onto the rack. Flip them right side up and let them cool completely.
Make the frosting! In a large bowl, beat room temperature butter on medium-high speed for about 1 minute. Slowly add 2 cups confectioners sugar and beat together to combine. Slowly add milk one tablespoon at a time, adding more sugar if the frosting becomes too thin and adding more milk if it is too dry. Add vanilla extract. Scrape out the insides of one vanilla bean and beat into the mixture.
Put it all together! Once cooled, wrap each layer individually in plastic wrap and stick in the freezer for about an hour. This will keep the layers from breaking. Afterwards, take a long serrated knife and cut each cake layer in half horizontally. Keep one hand pressed on top of the cake while slicing. You should now have four equal layers.
Spread blueberry curd between each layer and stack on top of one another. Use an offset spatula to crumb-coat the cake, then cover with plastic wrap and freeze for 30 minutes. Remove from freezer and frost the cake to your heart's content.