Baking Tuesday (Bumpkin) – White Cake with Lemon Curd and Italian Meringue
Welcome to the FIRST week of Baking Tuesdays. Townie and I decided that we needed an “excuse” (when really, who needs an excuse to bake?!?!) to make desserts. So, “It’s Tuesday” was as good an excuse as any 🙂
The plan is for both of us to post a dessert, any dessert, once a week. Townie is a big baker. She loves desserts and makes them well! I like to bake but usually wait for special occasions or Sunday night dinners. So, this might be a little more effort for me. But, it will be fun and it isn’t like baked desserts will go to waste in this house.
This cake is much more labor intensive than a cake-mix from a box, but it is ooooh so yummy and worth the effort! Most people don’t think homemade cake is as yummy or moist as that from a box, but this cake is both! Recipes for the cake and the icing recipe come from “Martha Stewart’s Cooking School: Lessons and Recipes for the Home Cook” which is a beautiful cookbook! The recipes from the book are only slightly different than those posted on her website, for cake and icing. However, I did use a store bought lemon curd.
You will want to have (if you don’t already own one, get it!) a candy thermometer. Also handy to have are pre-cut parchment circles for your cake pans, cardboard cake rounds and a pastry brush.
White Cake with Lemon Curd and Italian Meringue
- 1c. (2sticks) unsalted butter, room temp + more for pans
- 3c sifted cake flour – NOT self-rising or all-purpose + more for pans
- 2t baking powder
- 1t salt
- 1 3/4c sugar
- 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
- 1c milk, room temp
- 8 lg eggs (reserve yolks for lemon-curd, if you plan to make it yourself)
- 1/4t cream of tartar
- 1 1/2c lemon curd filling
- 1 batch Italian Meringue
- raspberries and lemon peel for garnish, if desired
Let’s make it!
- Prepare oven and pans: Heat oven to 350F, with racks in the middle. Butter two 8-in round cake pans, and line bottoms with parchment paper rounds. Butter paper and dust both pans with flour, tapping out excess
- Combine dry ingredients: In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.
- Cream butter and sugar: In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and 1 1/4c sugar until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl when necessary. Scrape the vanilla seeds into the bowl with a paring knife, reserving pod for another use (I usually stick them in my sugar jar to make vanilla sugar!)
- Make batter: With mixer on low speed, add dry ingredients in 3 batches, alternating with milk and starting and ending with dry ingredients; scrape down sides of bowl once or twice to ensure proper combining.
- Make meringue and fold into batter: In the clean (this is IMPORTANT, it MUST BE CLEAN or your meringue will not fluff properly!) bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat egg whites on low speed until foamy. Add cream of tartar, and beat on medium speed until soft peaks form. Gradually add remaining 1/2c sugar, beating on bed-high speed until stiff, glossy peaks form (Do not overmix the whites; if they appear curdled or broken, the cake will not rise). Whisk 1/3 of the whites into the batter to lighten, then carefully fold in the rest of the whites.
- Bake and cool: Divide the batter between prepared cake pans (about 4c batter each). Bake until a cake tester inserted in the centers comes out clean and cakes are beginning to pull away from sides of pans, 30-40mins. DO NOT OVERBAKE. Transfer pans to wire racks and cool for 10 minutes. Run an offset spatula around the edge of each cake, then invert cakes onto racks. Remove parchment; cool cakes completely. Refrigerate 1hr or up to overnight, wrapped well in plastic (or freeze up to 1 month)
- Fill: Trim tops of cakes with a serrated knife to make level. Slice each cake horizontally in half. Place one cake layer on a piece of parchment or cardboard cake round. Top with 1/2c curd (or any flavor filling you like, really), spreading evenly. Top with another cake layer; repeat with remaining curd and cake layers, ending with cake. Let set in refrigerator for 2hrs.
- Frost: Just before serving, frost the top and sides of the cake evenly with Italian Meringue (following recipe)
Italian Meringue – makes 4 1/2c
- 1c + 3T sugar
- 1/3c water
- 4 large egg whites
- pinch of cream of tartar
- pinch of salt
- 1T FRESH lemon juice (or flavored extract of your choice…I mixed lemon juice and 1t vanilla extract)
Let’s Make It!
- Cook sugar syrup: Bring sugar and the water to a boil in a small saucepan, swirling pan to dissolve sugar, and washing down sides of pan with a wet pastry brush to prevent crystals from forming (do not stir) Boil until syrup registers 238F on a candy thermometer.
- Meanwhile, whip egg whites: Beat egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment on low speed until foamy. Add cream of tartar and salt. Raise speed to medium; mix until soft peaks form. (If the egg whites reach soft peaks before the syrup reaches 238F, reduce the mixer speed to low. Do not stop mixing, as the meringue will start to separate if not continually mixed. Continuing to mix on high speed, however, could cause eggs whites to be overbeaten)
- Combine syrup and whites: With mixer running, slowly pour hot sugar syrup down the side of the mixing bowl, without touching whisk attachment. Mix on medium-high speed until stiff, glossy peaks form and mixture has partially cooled, 5-7mins. Beat in lemon juice. Use immediately.