What started out as plans to bake and blog about nothing but savoury foods and dinner items has turned into a week of cakes a brownies. I am going to blame my daughter for this one, because not only was it her birthday on the weekend, but I was volunteered to make dessert for her clinical group at school and I’m a sucker for a request like that.
My plans for beautiful meat pies has also gone down the drain because I’m just now getting over what I think must have been influenza. I am now 2.5 weeks into a terrible virus that knocked me off my feet and dragged me under. Today I saw a ray of sunshine at the end of the tunnel of sinus infections and a barking cough. I didn’t even need a nap!
My sweet Emilie turned 20 on Saturday, and as per tradition the birthday girl was allowed to choose whatever she wanted for her celebration meal. I gladly obliged.
Since Emilie had to start living a life with celiac disease a few years ago, the dessert choices dwindled until I found solutions for the problems faced when you try and make a gluten-free substitute. I think my first big success a couple of years ago was a fabulous cheesecake and the gluten-free crust made of pecans, sugar and butter. We never use graham crackers anymore.
This year I scoured Pinterest and cookbooks for some choices I thought could be made gluten-free with a little effort on my part, and I presented my findings to Emilie, who in turn selected the one she thought would be the most fabulous. I had known right away that this cake was for her when I stumbled upon it months ago and saved it for such an occasion.
Of course, this recipe called for CAKE FLOUR, for which I now had to figure out how to make gluten-free AND taste light and wonderful.
After three different trials I found a flour that worked perfectly and gave me the results I was looking for, and Em had her birthday cake made from all of her favourite flavours in the whole wide world (well, except caramel, which is also her favourite).
I’m also going to explain how to make the Swiss Meringue Buttercream in a post tomorrow, which is my most favourite frosting in the universe. It’s creamy and buttery and so easy to make once you know how. Stay tuned for that post, which includes troubleshooting tips and photos.
Now, onto CAKE!
I don’t even like the taste of lemons very much, and yet here I am, making recipe after recipe FILLED to the brim with lemons.
What the heck is with that?
I have to admit that I did enjoy rubbing the lemon zest into the sugar before creaming it with the butter. It smelled soooooooo good!! When I make madeleines I’m going to use this lemon sugar to sprinkle onto them right after they come out of the oven.
It smelled like summer.
What’s with the crazy photos you ask?
Well, in the morning I get some really harsh light in my east facing window, so instead of fighting it I just like to have fun with it. Food photography doesn’t always have to be all about diffused lighting, does it?
Who knows….. I’m new to food photography and food blogging, so I can plead ignorance on this one.
I just like shadows.
You know how your cake plate always gets messy and covered in frosting every time you make a cake? Well, I have the solution for you. Right before you place the first layer onto your beautiful pedestal cake stand or antique cake plate, rip up four pieces of parchment paper and slip them just underneath each side of the cake, forming a square and covering all of the cake plate. When you’re done all the messy work with the frosting and coconut, just gently remove the excess coconut and pull out the parchment strips. Your cake plate will be totally clean.
The first time I made this cake I didn’t pipe out any buttercream to dam up the jam that was being spread onto the layers, but this time I got smart and piped a small line of frosting around the edge of each layer to prevent the jam from spilling over. Because I heated the jam to make it more spreadable it became a little runny and the first time I made this cake the jam smooshed out from the layers a bit when I put everything together. I also decided to pipe a swirl of buttercream on each layer before spreading it, since it made my life so much easier than trying to spread globs of frosting over jam (which I did the first time). Feel free to do it however you’d like, but this piping method worked like a charm.
Slice the two layers of cake in half so that you have 4 layers. Spread some seedless raspberry jam over each layer of cake, top that jam with a layer of frosting, slap another layer of cake on top and repeat till you get to the top, which is then coated with a nice layer of buttercream, the sides are frosted and the whole cake is coated in a fabulous layer of sweetened/shredded coconut. Just gently press the coconut into the frosting to make it stick a little and then gently remove the excess.
Just to let you know, you can easily use regular cake flour to make this cake or choose to make it gluten-free with the recipe for GF cake flour listed below. Either way it is a fabulous cake and a beautiful treat for any occasion. It isn’t a difficult cake to put together at all, but if buttercream frosting scares you or you just don’t want to worry about making the frosting at all, I do believe that this gem would be fabulous with whipped cream. Just whip up some heavy cream, sweeten it a bit, add a bit of vanilla and maybe some softened gelatin (to stabilize the cream) and cover it with the coconut (which would also be fabulous if it were toasted a little). Just have fun and make this cake to celebrate someone special in your life, or just because you love cake. Either way you’ll love this cake and enjoy it immensely.
Lovely Lemon Cake
(for a GF version use the GF cake-flour blend listed below)
2 1/4 cups cake flour (GF or regular)
1 tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/4 cup buttermilk
4 large egg whites
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 tsp. grated lemon zest
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 tsp. lemon extract
Gluten-Free Cake Flour Blend~
1 1/2 cups white rice flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill)
3/4 cup potato starch
1/2 cup sorghum flour
1/4 cup tapioca starch
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. xanthan gum
Combine all ingredients and whisk until well blended.
Make your cake~
Preheat your oven to 350F .
Butter two 8 inch round pans and line the bottom of each pan with a piece of parchment paper.
Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.
Whisk together the milk and egg whites in a medium bowl.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, place the sugar and lemon zest and rub in the lemon zest with your fingers until the sugar is moist and everything is distributed evenly. Add the butter and with the paddle attachment cream the butter and lemon sugar until light and fluffy. Add the lemon extract.
With the mixer on medium speed, pour in 1/3 of the flour mixture and beat until incorporated. Add 1/2 the milk/egg mixture to the batter and beat until blended. Continue by adding another 1/3 of the flour, blending, and then the rest of the milk and followed by the rest of the flour. Beat another 2 minutes on medium speed to make sure that everything is blended well and the batter gets a little air added to it.
Pour into prepared pans and bake for 30-35 minutes or until the cake is springy in the middle. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the cake, unmold them and peel off the paper liner. Finish cooling at room temperature right side up.
(more detailed instructions and troubleshooting tips will be tomorrow’s blog post)
1 1/2 cups sugar
6 large egg whites
2 1/4 cups of unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup of fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
In a heatproof bowl over a simmering pot of water, whisk together the egg whites and sugar until foamy and hot to the touch (about 140F). Remove the bowl from the pot and with the whisk attachment on a stand mixer, beat the egg white mixture at medium speed until the mixture forms stiff peaks and becomes room temperature (about 5-7 minutes).
Switch to a paddle attachment and start adding the butter about 1/4 cup at a time, blending well between each addition. If the buttercream at any time looks like it’s starting to curdle, keep mixing and it will eventually become a creamy frosting.
After all the butter is added, beat the buttercream at medium-high speed for about 6-8 minutes or until it becomes thick and creamy.
Set the bowl aside and place a piece of plastic wrap on top of the frosting to keep it from drying out.
For the finishing~
2/3 cup seedless raspberry preserves, warmed gently
1 1/2 cups of shredded sweetened coconut
Assemble the cake~
Take each of the two cake layers and slice them in half horizontally with a bread knife and clean sawing motion. Put a cake layer on a cake board or cake plate that has been protected by strips of parchment paper (see photos and instructions in above post).
Spread 1/3 of the jam onto the layer of cake, then cover the jam evenly with about 1/4 of the frosting. Top with another layer of cake and repeat the jam and the frosting until you get to the fourth layer (making sure that it’s cut side down). You will not cover the top layer with jam, but instead use up the rest of the frosting to coat the cake evenly (an offset spatula works well for this job). Once the cake is frosted with all of the buttercream, press all of the coconut into the frosting. Make sure to cover the sides and the top.
Gently remove the parchment strips from the cake plate.
Serve this cake at room temperature, but if you must store it overnight you will need to refrigerate it. Remove from the fridge at least an hour before serving to bring the buttercream back up to room temperature.
This cake is fabulous served with a little french vanilla ice cream and some raspberry sauce.