27 March 2011

The Day of the Lemon Cake

Sierra has been wanting to make a cake for a week. No particular reason. Well, if sugar counts as a reason, then yeah, one particular reason. So after searching for just the right flavor and recipe, she came upon a Lemon Cake recipe that looked pretty tasty.

We didn't realize that it also happened to be Gluten Free until we were really concentrating on writing down the ingredients for the shopping list. One would think it would be difficult to find brown rice flour, potato starch, tapioca flour, xanthan gum, guar gum, and maybe even lemon extract. But guess what? Whole Foods has every single one of these items in one aisle!

So with our ingredients in hand, Sierra began the cake making process. First the cake part - pretty straightforward - mix a bunch of stuff together, pour in a pan, and bake. One ingredient we somehow overlooked was canola oil. I always have coconut oil on hand, so I got it out, heated it just enough to bring it to liquid state, then gave it to Sierra to add to a milk/lemon zest mixture she needed to do before incorporating into the cake batter. Guess what happens when you mix coconut oil with cold milk? Uh huh. Back to solid. Oh well, warmed the mixture again back to liquid and had no problems after that.

Next was the lemon curd. This was where she used the guar gum. Very easy and it thickened up really nicely.

So we split the two cake layers in half and basically made lemon curd sandwiches of them before putting them back together for frosting. This is the only part I was allowed to do because she didn't trust herself to split the cakes horizontally.

Finally, there was frosting to be made. I cannot believe it has taken me all these years to realize it - but I only learned about a month ago that you can make your own powdered sugar by putting granulated sugar in a powerful enough blender. What a money saver. So she made some powdered sugar, added it to butter, lemon, lemon extract, and lemon zest and that was the frosting. Oh, 1 1/2 times the recipe of course, for decorating purposes.

It was time for the base level of frosting.

But just a simple layer of frosting isn't too exciting, now is it? So you need some whoop-te-doos and piping and whatnot, and of course some sprinkles, because what is a cake without sprinkles? Wait...I wonder if the sprinkles un-gluten-freed the cake!?! Hmmmm.

And the finished cake with the baker.

And finally, the cake after cutting. It always gets dark outside when I'm trying to photograph food and you just can't see the layers as well as I'd like - but they're there, believe me.

UPDATE: Daytime photo of the yummy layers

I told Sierra this and I don't think she truly believes me...but this is the best cake I have ever eaten. I cannot explain exactly why - of course it was made with love, and it's flavors that I adore, etc. - but the flavors shine through with the exact right amount of sweet, moist, and flavorful: not too much or too little of anything.

I would say that you could potentially double the lemon curd recipe if you really like lemon curd....I thought we really weren't going to be able to taste it at all because it's a pretty thin layer, but surprisingly it held up really well and you could definitely taste it.

If you'd like to try it yourself, you can go to the Lemon Layer Cake recipe at Epicurious. It's from the November, 2005 Gourmet, which, like any good packrat, I have in my "November section" of my food magazine racks.

And yes, I did call this The DAY of the Lemon Cake for a reason. What was supposed to be a 2-hour-total-time cake recipe somehow took around 5 hours. Oh well, that's okay. It was worth it.

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