Although there is not actually any lemonade in this cake, I loved the way the title sounded. Thus my strawberry lemon cake became a strawberry lemon(ade) [sic] cake.
Despite its overwhelmingly commercial elements, I love Valentine’s day: making crafty cards, baking cute treats, having an excuse to use pink excessively. However no matter what I do, I can’t get hubby into it. This year’s the year though -I’m sure 11th time’s the charm!
If you want something special for your Valentine’s day, this cake is for you. It is a true labor of love, but it’s worth every minute.
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, plus more for pans
3 cups sifted, all purpose flour (375 grams)
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups sugar (400 grams)
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup+2 Tbsp buttermilk
2 Tbsp lemon juice (Meyer lemons preferred)
Zest of 3 lemons (see above…)
Lots of fresh strawberries for decorating (at least 16oz)
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
8 large egg yolks (reserve 3 for frosting and the other 5 for something fun)
1/4 tsp salt
10 Tbsp unsalted butter at room temperature (or cold butter microwaved for 10 seconds, twice), cut into tablespoons size pieces
1 cup strawberries, fresh or frozen (and thawed)
3 egg whites
1/2 cup sugar (100 grams)
1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), at room temperature.
1/2 oz Freeze Dried Strawberries (half of a TJ’s package), pulverized into powder and sifted with a fine-mesh sieve
2 teaspoons lemon juice (Meyer lemons preferred)
Whisk together sugar, zest, and yolks. Whisk in lemon juice and salt.
Create a bain-marie, by putting a metal bowl over medium saucepan filled with water; the water shouldn’t touch the bottom of the bowl. Set over medium heat. Cook, whisking constantly, until the butter has melted and the mixture thickens and bubbles begin to form around edge – it shouldn’t boil. It is thick enough when it sticks to a wooden spoon (you should be able to make a line through this that stays – be careful using your fingers because the mixture will be hot! Little sis burnt her finger this way when helping me with my wedding cake project.)
Remove from heat while continuing to whisk. Pour curd through a fine-mesh sieve into a glass bowl. Press plastic wrap against surface of curd (to prevent a skin forming) and put the bowl in the fridge until cool. Alternatively, you can create an ice bath for it.
Meanwhile, puree the strawberries and strain through a fine-mesh sieve. Fold the strawberries into the cooled curd.
While the curd is cooling (or before you start curd) you can make the cake.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter two 6-by-3-inch round cake pans (8-by-2-inch is fine too), line bottoms with parchment paper and dust bottoms and sides with flour, tapping out an excess.
Sift together flour, baking powder and soda, and salt.
Using the paddle attachment on an electric mixer, cream butter on medium until softened, 1-2 minutes. Scrape bottom and sides of the bowl. Add sugar and beat on medium speed, until butter is light and fluffy, 3-4 minutes. Scrape again. Add eggs, a little at a time, beating after each addition. Beat on medium until mixture has an even constancy, stopping once or twice to scrape bowl, 4-5 minutes.
On low speed, alternately add flour mixture and buttermilk a little at a time. Start and end with the flour mixture. Beat in vanilla and lemon juice and zest.
Divide batter evenly between the prepared pans. Bake 25 minutes, and then turn and continue baking until it pulls away from the sides and a toothpick comes out clean from the center, 15-30 minutes more (sorry to not be more precise – my oven is terrible – even with an oven thermometer – and yours could be perfect).
Transfer pans to wire racks to cool. After 15-20 minutes, loosen cakes by running an offset spatula around edges. Remove from pans and let cool completely before proceeding with assembly.
While the cake is cooling, you can make the frosting.
Over a bain-marie (see curd directions), whisk together egg whites and sugar. Continue whisking until the mixture reaches 160 degrees.
Pour mixture into stand mixture (or use hand-mixer), and whisk on high until it reaches room temperature and forms stiff peaks. Add in butter 2 tablespoons at a time, waiting for the previous addition to completely mix in. If your mixture looks lumpy and curdy, don’t fear – just keep beating until it looks like frosting (this could take 3-5 minutes or much, much more). Beat in pinch of salt, strawberry powder, and lemon juice.
This can stay at room temp until you are ready to frost (a couple of hours) or can be refrigerated and then brought to room temperature again. It may need to be whisked to regain texture. You can also freeze it for about 2 months.
Once the cake is completely cooled, you can cut it into layers. (If your cake has fallen at all, you should first gently even out the top using a long serrated knife)
If you happen to have a rotating cake stand, use that. Otherwise, make sure your cake is on a surface that won’t allow it to slip. Score your cake in at least four places around the edge at the same height. Then using a serrated knife that is longer than your cake, gently cut cake in half, keeping the knife level the whole time.
Separate the layers and brush gently with a pastry brush to remove excess crumbs. Put frosting in a pastry bag fit with a medium width star tip.
Put a bit of frosting on your cardboard cake circle to secure cake and center one of the bottom cake layers (reserve the other bottom layer for the top of the cake).
Holding the bag perpendicular to the cake, pipe frosting along the edge of the cake. Scoop several tablespoons of curd into the center of the cake. Using an offset spatula, spread the curd evenly across the top until it reaches the frosting border. (In my smaller cake, I added a layer of strawberries cut crosswise here too – really good). Add next cake layer and repeat twice.
Top with second cake bottom, flipping it over so the flat pan side is on the top. Decorate top with piped stars and strawberries.
Eat and love that you took the time to make it.