Spring has sprung!
This brightly colored and flavored lemon cake with fresh lemon curd is like capturing the sun on a plate.
It was perfect for my Easter celebration, but I think that making this cake is also a wonderful way to celebrate the coming of warm months ahead. It's just so zesty, sweet, and tart. Your mouth will pucker. Your lips will smile. Your fork will dive in for more.
The lemon curd is just oh-so-delightful. How did it take me this long to make this amazing ode to the lemon? Its color pops. Its flavor sings. Its consistency is smooth, pure, and luscious.
Sure, I had eaten lemon curd before. We used to have it as a spread for our scones at Christmas Tea at The Four Seasons in Philadelphia. I used to think it was delicious, swirled with butter and washed down with my tea. But now I'm wondering if that lemon curd was out of a jar. I think it must have been, because in my memory it now pales in comparison to this unbelievably fresh recipe.
Anyway, I'll get down to sharing it with you! Enough of keeping to to myself. Time to let the Spring out! Bake it out, whisk it out, zest it out, and squeeze it out to the last lemony drop.
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated white sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs, room temperature
2 heaping tablespoons fresh lemon zest
2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
Preheat oven to 350 degress. Grease and flour two 8" round cake pans and set aside.
In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until light yellow and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Scape down the sides as needed. Beat in the vanilla extract. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Sift together the zest, flour, baking powder, and salt. Then add the flour mixture alternately with the lemon juice mixture in 3 additions, beating between additions and scraping down the sides.
Pour the batter evenly into each of the two pans and gently drop the pans against the counter top a few times to release air bubbles. Bake on the center rack until a toothpick comes out clean, approximately 20 minutes.
Lemon Curd: makes about 2 cups
6 large egg yolks
4 tablespoons fresh lemon zest
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
12 tablespoons granulated sugar
8 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
Add the lemon zest and sugar to a small saucepan. Place a fine mesh strainer over the saucepan and add the yolks into the strainer, stirring gently to release them through the strainer.Then pour the lemon juice over the yolks in the strainer, stirring, to force down the rest of the yolks (this will leave the membranes in the strainer without having them compromise the consistency of your curd). Place the saucepan over medium heat and stir constantly with a wooden spoon, scraping the bottoms and sides of the pan, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon, from 10-15 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and add the butter, once piece at a time, stirring after each addition until it is completely dissolved.
Pour the curd into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap so that the wrap touches the top of the curd. This keeps a skin from forming. Allow to cool completely, then refrigerate for at least one hour to thicken.
To assemble the cake: Place one cake layer on a cake stand, then pour half of the lemon curd over it, spreading evenly out to the sides. Place the other cake layer on top, and repeat with the remaining lemon curd. Dust with powdered sugar if desired, and serve.
Note: Lemon curd freezes very well. Simply store in an airtight glass container in the freezer, leaving enough room for expansion at the top. Thaw in the refrigerator.