Friday, August 28, 2015

Triple Lemon Blueberry Cake

This scrumptious, summer-inspired cake is another fave from my cake idol, Rosie from Sweetapolita (it's her dark chocolate cake that I'm utterly in love with). I've made this cake several times and have recommended it to others just as much. And every time it's made, it receives rave reviews. With lemon zest, real lemon juice and pure lemon extract in the cake, the curd and the frosting, the lemon flavor is strong but still very natural flavor tasting and perfectly tart.

In the past, I've always made the lemon curd from scratch and have loved it so much I could eat it straight from the spoon. This time, I decided to try Trader Joe's Lemon Curd to see if it was as good as the homemade stuff, and if it would be a worthwhile substitute if you either don't have time to make the curd from scratch or simply don't want to. 

My review: the store bought version is an adequate substitute, but I would strongly suggest making your lemon curd from scratch. With homemade curd, you'll get a brighter, richer color, as well as a more natural flavor and creamy texture. If you have the 20 minutes to make it, do it!  

Make sure to roll your blueberries in flour to ensure they don't sink to the bottom of your cake while baking.

And when you're stacking the cake, you'll want to create a rim of frosting around the cake before filling it with the curd. This will prevent the curd from oozing out the side of your cake as you stack more layers on top.

Also, I plan to post a full frosting tutorial in the future, but for now, a few tips to get you started: make sure your cake is even on all sides, create a crumb coating and let it set in the refrigerator for 20-30 minutes, use a turn table, and consider getting a palette knife or an icing smoother.

I end up using the palette knife more often than the icing smoother because I like the more rustic look of the sweeping frosting lines. 

Triple Lemon Blueberry Cake (recipe from Sweetapolita)

Yield: one 3-layer, 8-inch round cake (for this post and my Instagram giveaway, I added a half recipe to this recipe and made two 3-layer, 6-inch cakes).


For the cake:
2 cups plus 6 tablespoons (290 g) all-purpose flour, sifted
2 teaspoons (9 g) baking powder
1 teaspoon (7 g) salt
3 cups fresh blueberries
1/2 cup (120 ml) sour cream
1/2 cup (120 ml) whole milk
2 teaspoons (10 ml) pure vanilla extract 
1/2 teaspoon (2.5 ml) pure lemon extract
1 teaspoon (5 ml) lemon zest
1 cup (2 sticks/227 g) unsalted butter, softened
1-1/2 cups (300 g) white sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature

For the frosting:
1 cup (2 sticks/227 g) unsalted butter, softened
2 teaspoons (10 ml) lemon zest
5 cups (625 g) icing sugar, sifted
2 tablespoons (30 ml) fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup (60 ml) whipping cream (35% cream)
1/4 teaspoon (1.25 ml) pure lemon extract
a pinch of salt
yellow food gel, optional

For the lemon curd:
4 lemons 
2 whole eggs, plus 4 egg yolks
1 cup sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into small even cubes


For the cake:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare three 8" round cake pans with parchment paper, butter and flour. Sift dry ingredients into medium bowl. Transfer 1 tablespoon flour mixture to larger bowl. Add fresh blueberries and toss to coat them with flour. Set remaining flour mixture and blueberries aside.
2. Stir sour cream, whole milk, vanilla extra, lemon extract and lemon zest in small bowl.
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar until pale yellow and very fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in eggs, one at a time, until well combined.
4. Mix in flour mixture alternately with milk mixture, starting and ending with flour mixture. Stir until just combined. Gently fold in blueberries.
5. Divide batter equally among prepared pans. Bake cakes until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Cool cakes in pans on racks for about 10 minutes, then invert onto racks until completely cool.

For the frosting:
1. Cream butter and lemon zest in the bowl of electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, about 3 minutes. Slowly add icing sugar, mixing on low speed for about 2 minutes.
2. Add remaining ingredients and beat on med-high for 3-4 minutes until very fluffy. If using color gel, add a drop or two, then beat until blended.

For the curd:
1. Wash lemons really well and using a zester, remove all the colored portion of the peel from the fruit into a bowl or onto a piece of wax paper. Rotate fruit as necessary to get as much of the zest off. Repeat until you have 2 teaspoons of the zest and set aside.
2. Slice the lemon in half crosswise using a sharp knife, and extract as much of the juice as you can. Just be sure to catch all of the juice in a bowl and to completely strain the seeds before using. Repeat the juicing until you have 2/3 cups of the strained juice.
3. Get your double boiler ready by filling a saucepan with 1" of water, then placing a metal bowl on top of the saucepan. You will need to ensure the bowl fits snugly into the top of the saucepan and that the bottom of the bowl doesn't touch the water (this is important! you don't want your eggs to cook). You can now remove and continue with making the curd.
4. Whisk the juice, whole eggs, egg yolk and sugar in the bowl until smooth. Add the butter cubes to the bowl but don't stir.
5. Heat the water in the saucepan over low heat until it simmers (not boils) and place the bowl atop the rim. Stirring gently, but constantly, using a heatproof spatula or wood spoon, cook until the curd has thickened and all of the butter has melted and is incorporated, about 10 minutes. To test if the curd is thick enough, remove the spatula or spoon from the curd and check that it's coated.
6. Strain the curd over a bowl using a fine-mesh sieve and then stir in the zest. Cover with plastic wrap pressed directly against the curd to prevent a skin from forming, and chill for at least three hours (suggested to make it the day before and let thicken overnight in the fridge).

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