Monday, May 16, 2011

Lemon Poppyseed Cake with Raspberry Curd Filling

(My pictures leave a lot to be desired, I know. And I don't have any pictures of the inside, either. But it was beautiful!)

My father-in-law is 85 years old. He is a brilliant man: an accomplished electrical engineer and woodworker, but he is also a very easygoing man. Every year he has but one request for his birthday: lemon. Make it lemon. Whatever it is... lemon.
While I personally don't see the merits of any kind of dessert that is solely fruit-based and does not include chocolate, I decided that it was not my very special day, and that I ought to make him what HE wants. Fine. But it won't be just any lemon cake -- no. Make it lemon poppyseed, with a delicious raspberry filling, and a lemon cream cheese frosting to top it off.

I have to say, even I liked this cake. I don't care for lemon, and I REALLY don't care for raspberries, but it was pretty darn good.

Lemon Poppyseed Cake with Raspberry Curd Filling


For the cake:
2 1/3 cups cake flour
2 3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tbsp. poppy seeds
5 large egg whites, at room temperature
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 tbsp. finely grated lemon zest
12 tsbp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup whole milk

For the raspberry curd:
8 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 pint ripe raspberries (plus extra for garnishing the cake)
5 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
3/4 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
2-3 tsp. fresh lemon juice

For the frosting:
8 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 c butter
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp vanilla extract
5 c confectioners' sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour two 9" cake pans (I actually used a light cooking spray, and I have found it to work better for me) and set them aside. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt and poppy seeds in a bowl and whisk to blend; set aside.

In a large bowl using your hand mixer  (you could use a stand mixer and save yourself some time, I didn't have one when I made this) beat the egg whites on medium speed until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and increase the speed to medium high, beating until stiff peaks form. Set aside.

Place butter into a large bowl (or your mixer) and beat on medium until smooth. Add sugar gradually, beating until it is fully incorporated. Add the lemon zest, beating on medium high until light and fluffy. Add 1/4 c of the milk and beat until just blended. Reducing the speed to low, alternate adding the flour mixture and the remainder of the milk, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Beat until just blended. Take a rubber spatula and gently fold in 1/4 of the egg white mixture, taking care not to deflate it. Continue with the rest of the egg whites until incorporated.

Evenly distribute the batter between your cake pans (I use a ladle because I am neurotic - it works quite well!) bake until golden and a toothpick in the center comes out clean, 24-26 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then flip the cakes out and allow them to cool completely.

While the cakes are baking/cooling, you can start your raspberry curd. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the raspberries, egg yolks, sugar and salt. Take a masher and smush the berries while the mixture is heating. Be careful not to overheat, and to stir frequently, or you will end up with a raspberry omelet. It takes about 10 minutes for the mixture to thicken up, it should have a thick syrup-y texture. Remove from heat and pour through a strainer, pressing hard with the back of a spoon to extract as much as you can from the solids. This can take awhile, so be patient... this filling is really worth it. Cool to room temperature, and add lemon juice to taste. Cover and cool - I stuck mine in the refrigerator for several hours so it would be nice and thick and easy to work with.

Meanwhile, make your frosting. Beat the cream cheese, butter, lemon juice, lemon zest and vanilla together until smooth and fluffy. Add confectioners' sugar in 2 additions. Beat until creamy. Add more sugar or juice as needed to get the desired consistency.

Take the bottom layer of your cake and place it on your cake stand. Pipe a ring of frosting around the top so that your filling doesn't leak out. (I did not do this, and my frosting kept turning pink when I was spreading it on!) Spread the raspberry curd inside your ring of frosting. I made my layer a little thicker than I should have, which is probably why I had to fight with the pink frosting, but the filling was so good I wanted to make sure the flavor really came through, which it did. So, use your judgment here.

Add the top layer of your cake, and frost as desired, adding fresh raspberries as garnish. Enjoy!

Source: adapted from Annie's Eats

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