Lemon Poppy Seed Pound Cake

Monday, May 6, 2013

Lemon Layer Cake with Lemon Curd and Mascarpone

 By Heather

Another lemon dessert!  At the beginning of this year I started a little dessert club with some of my friends.  It's really a fun excuse to try new recipes that I would never make for my family, since half of them might dislike it and then I'd be forced to eat the rest of the dessert by myself.  This selfless service has been rendered in the past, but I'm hoping not to repeat it often.  I can no longer call my squishies "baby fat", when my smallest child is almost 3 years old.

So last month for dessert club the theme was "lemon."  And boy did we have a lot of absolutely delicious desserts.  There were so many good and beautiful treats that I'm still dreaming about them.  I was the lucky one that night, and won the prize for best dessert.  Hooray!  It was fun to win, but I only edged out two other desserts by one and two points respectively.  As I said, there were masterpieces present.

This cake was very delicious, with light spongy layers that became wonderful with the lemon simple syrup soaked in.  I made a couple of changes to the recipe (not reflected in the recipe below, though).  One, I had made a different lemon curd recipe and used that in the cake, merely because I was comfortable with that recipe and wanted to use it in another recipe I was making.  Second, I was too cheap to spend $15 on three tubs of mascarpone, so I bought one and used two 8-oz. blocks of neufchatel (light cream cheese) in place of the other two tubs.  I thought the frosting was really good, so I think you can get away with it if budget is an issue. I made the cake, curd and frosting over a couple of days and then assembled it all the day before serving.  I think that helped the flavors to meld well.  This would work really well as a special occasion cake for a citrus fan.  Or a chocolate fan - you may be surprised!

Lemon Layer Cake with Lemon Curd and Mascarpone

You'll need a pastry bag fitted with a 1/4-inch star tip to create the decorative rosettes. Begin making this cake two days before you plan to serve it.    Yield: Makes 10 to 12 servings


Lemon curd:
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup fresh lemon juice
3 large eggs
3 large egg yolks
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

6 large eggs, separated
14 tablespoons sugar
1 3/4 cups sifted cake flour (sifted, then measured)
1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup boiling water
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

Filling and frosting:
2 cups chilled heavy whipping cream
3/4 cup sugar
3 8-ounce containers chilled mascarpone cheese* or a combination of mascarpone and cream cheese

For lemon curd:
Whisk first 4 ingredients in medium metal bowl. Set bowl over saucepan of simmering water (do not allow bottom of bowl to touch water). Whisk constantly until thickened and instant-read thermometer inserted into mixture registers 160°F, about 10 minutes. Remove bowl from over water. Add butter; whisk until melted. Transfer 1 cup curd to small bowl for spreading on cake layers. Reserve remaining curd for filling. Press plastic wrap directly onto surface of both curds. Chill overnight. (Can be made 3 days ahead. Keep chilled.)
For cake:
Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 375°F. Line bottom of two 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 1 1/2-inch-high sides with parchment paper (do not grease pans or parchment). Using electric mixer, beat egg yolks and 7 tablespoons sugar in large bowl until mixture is very thick and slowly dissolving ribbons form when beaters are lifted, about 4 minutes. Using clean dry beaters, beat whites in another large bowl until soft peaks form. Add remaining 7 tablespoons sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until stiff and glossy. Fold half of whites into yolk mixture, then sift half of flour and 1/4 teaspoon salt over and gently fold in until incorporated. Fold in remaining whites, then sift remaining flour over and fold in just until combined, being careful not to deflate batter.

Divide batter between pans; smooth tops. Bake until tester inserted into center of cakes comes out clean, about 15 minutes. Cool in pans on racks.

Run knife around edge of pans to loosen cakes. Invert cakes onto 9-inch-diameter cardboard rounds, tapping on work surface if necessary to release cakes. Carefully and slowly cut each cake horizontally in half (layers will be thin). Peel off parchment.
For syrup:
Place sugar in small metal bowl. Add 1/2 cup boiling water; stir to dissolve sugar. Stir in lemon juice.

For filling and frosting:
Beat whipping cream and sugar in large bowl until peaks form. Add mascarpone to lemon curd in medium bowl; whisk until blended. Fold whipped cream into lemon-mascarpone mixture.

Place 1 cake layer, flat side up, on platter. Brush with 1/4 of syrup. Spread 1/4 cup lemon curd over, then 1 cup lemon-mascarpone filling. Top with second cake layer; brush with 1/4 of syrup and spread with 1/4 cup lemon curd and 1 cup lemon-mascarpone filling. Repeat with third cake layer, syrup, lemon curd, and filling. Top with fourth cake layer. Brush with remaining syrup, then spread remaining lemon curd over. Spoon 2 cups lemon-mascarpone filling into pastry bag fitted with 1/4-inch star tip (to be used for rosettes). Spread remaining lemon-mascarpone filling as a frosting over sides of cake. Pipe small rosettes of frosting over top of cake, covering completely. Cover cake with cake dome; refrigerate at least 6 hours and up to 1 day.

*Italian cream cheese available at Italian markets and many supermarkets.

Source: Slightly adapted from Epicurious

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