Lemon drops have a history in my family, banned from my mother as a child and then somewhat unconsciously banned from me as I was growing up. To this day I feel like I am "breaking the rules" when I have a lemon drop. (Sorry Mom, I promise I will be careful) Baked's Lemon Drop Cake recipe was the loophole my family needed, tasting exactly like a lemon drop candy, only in cake form. The frosting is sweet and unassuming, then POW bright tart lemon curd explodes with flavor between the cake layers. AMAZING. This has to be one of the best lemon desserts I have EVER had. (Sorry Aunt L) Not only was it absolutely delicious, it looked beautiful as well. I bet you can guess what dessert I will be bringing our next family gathering (:
Lemon Drop Cake
2 1/2 cups cake flour
3/4 all purpose flour
1 tbs baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup vegetable shortening, at room temperature
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 tbs vanilla extract
Grated zest of one lemon
1 large egg
1 1/2 cups ice cold water
3 large egg whites, at room temperature
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
Lemon Curd Filling
3/4 cups fresh lemon juice (from 6 lemons)
Grated zest of 2 lemons
2 large eggs
7 large egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
4 tbs butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups milk
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, soft but cool, cut into small pieces
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup lemon curd
Chewy Lemon Head Lemon Drops for decoration
Make The Lemon Cake Layers
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Butter three 8-inch round cake pans, line the bottoms with parchment, and butter the parchment. Dust with flour, and knock out the excess flour.
In a large bowl, sift the flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together. Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and shortening on medium speed until creamy, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the sugar, vanilla, and lemon zest and beat on medium speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, add the egg, and beat just until combined. Reduce the speed to low. Add the flour mixture, alternating with the ice water, in three separate additions, beginning and ending with the flour. Scrape down the bowl, then mix on low speed for a few more seconds.
In a clean bowl, whisk the egg whites and cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Do not over beat. Gently fold the egg whites into the batter.
Divide the batter among the prepared pans and smooth the tops. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through baking, until a toothpick inserted in the center of each cake comes out clean. Transfer the cakes to a wire rack and let cool for 20 minutes. Invert the cakes onto the rack, remove pans, and let cool completely. Remove the parchment.
In a small bowl, pour the lemon juice over the lemon zest and let stand for 10 minutes to soften the zest.
In a nonreactive bowl whisk the egg, egg yolks, and sugar until combined. Add the lemon zest and lemon juice to the egg mixture and whisk until just combined.
Place your bowl containing the egg mixture over a double boiler. Continuously stir the mixture with a heatproof spatula until the mixture has thickened to a pudding like texture, about 6 minutes.
Remove the bowl from the heat and whisk in the butter until emulsified. Strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve. Take a sheet of plastic wrap and press it into the mixture and around the bowl so that the curd does not form a skin.
Set the lemon curd aside while you make the frosting. Do not refrigerate the curd unless you are saving it for future use.
In a medium heavy-bottom saucepan, whisk the sugar and flour together. Add the milk and cream and cook over medium heat, whisking occasionally, until the mixture comes to a boil and has thickened, about 20 minutes.
Transfer the mixture to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on high speed until cool. Reduce the speed to low and add the butter, mix until thoroughly incorporated.
Increase the speed to medium high and beat until the frosting is light and fluffy.
Add the vanilla and 1/2 cup of the freshly made lemon curd and continue to combined. If the frosting is too soft, put it in the refrigerator to chill slightly then mix again until it is the proper consistency. If the frosting is too firm, place the bowl over a pot of simmering water and beat with a wooden spoon until proper consistency.
Assembling The Cake
Refrigerate the frosting for a few minutes until it can hold it's shape. Place one cake layer on a serving platter. Trim the top to create a flat surface and evenly spread about 1 cup of the remaining lemon curd on top. Add the next layer, trim, and fill with 1 cup of the lemon curd, then add the third layer and trim. Crumb coat the cake and refrigerate for about 15 minutes. Frost the sides and the top of the cake with the frosting. Garnish with the candies and refrigerate for 15 minutes to firm up the finished cake. Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.