Sunday, March 10, 2019

Lemon Layer Drip Cake



Happy birthday to me! I'm 31 this year, and my favorite German Shepherd, Howl, turned 8 along with me! His birthday is the day after mine, and we're both Pisces Scorpio rising. He's my special dude and we always like to celebrate our birthdays together. (I actually have no idea what he likes other than belly rubs and treats, but he seems to be happy when I'm happy, so hey.)


My favorite birthday cake is lemon cake. I've posted about lemon cakes before, here, but I felt like a loaf cake this year. One thing I dislike deeply, though, is cutting a cake more than I need to. What's the solution? Sheet cake! That's right...all you have to do is make a sheet cake and cut it in strips to create a loaf shape. Bam!

So I do love cake but one thing that I don't love about cake is how heavy it can get, especially with something like a chocolate ganache or an especially thick or stodgy buttercream. Mostly, it's a rarity that I like buttercream, since many that I've had are just too sweet or too thick and gloppy for me. The solution, of course, is lemon cake. Lemon is nice, bright, acidic, and when made into a delicious curd, it's the best. Fat + Acid = good times in this chef's book. When you are cooking something or baking something and you think to yourself:

"Hmm, it's good, but something's missing..." 

The answer is almost always going to be 'acid.' Add a splash of vinegar or a squeeze of lemon. Maybe even some sour cream or a sour fruit. There are quite a lot of things that are on the acidic spectrum. I encourage you to explore them all!

Lemon Genoise Spongecake
yields 1 half-sheet pan or 2 8" rounds

  • 240 g eggs (4 to 5 large eggs)
  • 120 g sugar (I like cane sugar for this application)
  • 135 g AP flour
  • Pinch kosher salt
  • Zest and Juice of a whole lemon
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
Favorite Lemon Curd
  • 3 egg yolks + 1 whole egg
  • 1/2 c lemon juice, freshly-squeezed (about 4 large lemons)
  • 4 oz vegan butter (you can use dairy butter if you like)
  • 3/4 c + 3 Tbsp powdered sugar
Lemon Buttercream
  • 8 oz butter or vegan butter substitute, cubed (I love earth balance)
  • Zest of 2 lemons
  • 3 heaping spoonfuls Favorite Lemon Curd
  • Powdered sugar, A/N
White Chocolate Glaze
  • 1 14 oz can full-fat coconut milk
  • 400 g white chocolate
  • Gel food coloring of your choice

Prepare your pans with either a silpat baking sheet or a parchment round-cut sheet in the bottom of your pans. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. You actually want a rather hot oven for this stuff to go into. Do not grease your pans unless you have the kind of pan-spray stuff that has flour in it. This is because spongecakes need to be able to stick to the sides of your pans to climb and retain their volume. If you grease the inside at all, the sponge will collapse and become quite dense and rather disgusting. Use paper, trust me. 

Get a medium saucepot about halfway full of water and bring it to a simmer. Combine the eggs and sugar in the bowl of a standing mixer and set it over the water. Whisk constantly, but don't whip, to break down the albumins but also to warm the egg mixture. You're not wanting to cook it, of course, but to bring it up to at least body temperature. If you were doing a genoise the old-fashioned way with a Mrs. Patmore type of situation, you'd have to bring it up to a higher temperature, but since we've mostly got electric mixers happening, you only have to bring it up to warm and to dissolve the sugar. 

Once everything is all dissolved, bring it over to the standing mixer and bring up to a full speed whip until the eggs are wholly tripled in volume and of a quite pale color. You don't want it dry, but you want it quite stiff. This takes up to ten minutes, but keep careful not to overwhip things as you'll have to start all over again.

To get the most juice out of a lemon, I suggest zesting it first, then zapping the lemon for about 10 seconds in the microwave. Roll it gently on your cutting board before cutting in half, then squeezing generously, fishing out the seeds. Whisk together the juice, zest, salt, and coconut oil until you get a sort of thickened vinaigrette consistency. Take a fairly large dollop of your meringue-like egg mixture and fold it in. It's okay if it deflates a touch.

Sift your flour into the large amount of meringue mixture first. It's a fair amount of flour, but do take care to be gentle and not to knock out any air. You're not using any baking powders or leavening agents, so your egg foam is all your leavening. Once everything is quite well incorporated, take a large dollop of your mix and fold it into the lemon mixture. Finally, scrape the lemon mixture gently into the egg-flour mix and give it a few folds to make sure everything is wholly incorporated. 

Pan the batter gently and from a low height so as to not knock out too much air. Spread the batter as evenly as possible with your spatula, and then gently tap the bottom of your pans with your fingertips to pop any large bubbles. Remember, you don't want big bubbles like you'd find in an artisinal bread. You want tiny bubbles for your spongecake.

Bake this at 375 for 10-15 minutes, or until the color is golden-brown and springs back gently to the touch, and pulls gently away from the sides of the pan. Cool completely before using. I used the sheet pan application for this cake just because that's the look I wanted. Meanwhile, let's make the rest of the stuff!

To make the lemon curd, simply whip together your egg yolks with your whole egg with a pinch of salt until it's all homogenous. Melt the butter, lemon juice, and powdered sugar together and bring to a simmer. Splash a little bit of the hot juice mixture in with the eggs and whisk quickly to warm. Remove from the heat, add in all of your tempered egg mixture, and return to a medium-low flame, whisking constantly. You want it to thicken, but you do not want it to curdle. Once it's quite thick but not boiling, remove immediately from the heat and strain into a bowl to remove any lumps that may have curdled. Cover with plastic wrap by putting the film directly onto the surface of the curd. This way, you won't get a skin!

To make the chocolate glaze, simply scrape the coconut milk into a glass bowl and pour in with the chocolate. You can add some vanilla paste, if you like, to this but it's not wholly necessary. All you have to do is heat up the glaze in the bain marie (that double-boiler we used earlier to heat your eggs and sugar) until it's quite smooth and melted, and then dye it as many colors as you want! Keep the colors separate, of course, and let them set at room temperature for later. 

Wash our your standing mixer quite well and use the bain marie to heat half of the butter for the buttercream until it's almost completely melted. Add in the rest of the butter in and fit your mixer with the whisk attachment. Whip your butter until quite light and fully incorporated into one lovely texture, then add in the zest and lemon curd. Continue to whip until all nicely together, and then finally add in a little powdered sugar at a time at medium speed until it's thick and the right amount of sweetness that you want. It's going to be amazingly flavorful, and even better the longer you let it sit!

Invest in a rotating cake stand! I know it's strange, but I much prefer the plastic to metal ones. They don't squeak!
Once everything is cooled down, take your spongecake and cut into four equal pieces, crosswise. Spread each layer with plenty of lemon curd (please be generous) and sandwich them to create a gorgeous long loaf. To get extra lemon curd on the inside, pop some of your buttercream in a piping bag and pipe a border along each side of the cake and then fill your cake with as much lemon curd as you like. Keep in mind, it's a very bright curd, so don't overfill lest your border burst! Spread buttercream all around and chill until firm to the touch. Your cake must be rather cold in order for the glaze to not run off everywhere.

Use either gel or powdered food colorings. Please don't use the liquid!
You'll want your glaze/ganache to be a little warmer than body temperature to be flowy, so a quick zap in the microwave will do you good. I did four colors for mine, but you can do as many or as few as you like. When doing a drip glaze, I advise you to do your edges first, and use less than you think you need. Remember, you can always add but you can't take away. Once your edges are about where you like them, fill in the middle with random globs of glaze. You can now use sprinkles around the border, all over the top, decorate with candy, cherries, chocolates...pretty much anything your little heart desires! I chose amarena cherries, white chocolate curls, honeycomb candy, and sprinkles.

Please go crazy with your own decorations, and then tag me at @wannaBgourmande or #WannaBGourmande on Instagram/Twitter to show me what amazing creative souls you are!



Thanks so much for spending my birthday week with me. It was great. I'm looking forward to what my 31st year of existence on this planet does for me. Next week is going to be a fun recipe for Purim. Stay tuned!

Happy cooking and happy eating!

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