Saturday, June 11, 2011

happy birthday, gina!

Gina has been one of my closest friends for the last 25 years. I can't quite believe it's been that long since 10th grade, but what can I say? We're getting old. In jazz choir, we shared a mic while singing dissonant voice parts (1st alto and 2nd soprano). We lived in a shoebox-sized apartment for a few years with our low-paying first jobs out of college. Discount shoe shopping, margaritas, and awesome neighbors made it a highly enjoyable time. Although we've lived in separate parts of the country for the last decade and a half, we can pick up where we left off every time we get the chance to spend a little time together.

Unbelievably, G ended up in SoCal, visiting her parents, over the week of her 40th birthday. We got to celebrate together for the first time in ages! When she thought she'd be visiting, she joked that maybe I'd make her a lemon cake, like I made for her wedding shower years ago. And of course, I'm highly suggestible, so I did just that.

I tell ya, this rose cake is kind of addictive! The cake is small - just 8" and two layers - so I wanted to try the design with just one rose high around the sides. And because the diameter is smaller, I didn't have room for three concentric circles of roses, so I improvised a middle ring of swooshy swirls. I thought it looked really pretty.

The cake is lemon, of course, filled with homemade lemon curd and frosted with regular vanilla buttercream that has lemon extract subbed for the almond extract. I'm not sure it's my favorite lemon cake, but I didn't have a lot of flexible time this week for experimenting. I'll try something new next time.

We were so full when we got back from dinner that I sent the cake home with Gina to eat with her family, so I didn't get to taste it as planned. I hope it was delicious! Here's to the next 40 years and a lifelong friend!

Lemon Layer Cake
Recipe says it makes 2- 9" layers, but I thought it was really better suited for 2- 8" layers

2 1/2 cups (10 ounces) cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 sticks butter, slightly softened
1 1/2 cups (10 1/2 ounces) sugar
2 whole eggs
3 egg yolks
2 teaspoons vanilla
grated zest of one lemon
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup whole milk

Preheat the oven to 350F. Line bottom of pans with parchment and spray with cooking spray with flour. (You can also grease and flour the pans.)

In a medium bowl, whisk together the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and set aside.

Using a stand mixer, beat the butter for about 30 seconds, until soft. Gradually add the sugar, and beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. One at a time, beating after each addition, add the whole eggs and the egg yolks. Beat in the vanilla and lemon zest. Add the lemon juice. The batter may look curdled, but that's okay. It will smooth out when you add the flour and milk.

Add the flour and milk alternately, starting and ending with the flour. Mix until just combined, and then pour into the prepared pans. This is a fluffy batter and doesn't "pour" well - just scrape it in, dividing evenly between the pans. (I find it easier to bake it as a single cake in a 3" high pan, then cut it into layers; then you don't have to divide the batter and worry about whether you put the same amount in each pan.)

Bake for about 20-25 minutes if using two pans. In one pan, it will bake longer - at least 35-45 minutes. Best baking advice: it's done when it's done, not when the timer says it is. The cake will spring back when pressed lightly with a finger. Remove from the oven, cool for 10 minutes, and then invert the cake onto a rack to cool completely. Layer with lemon curd, but first pipe a "dam" of frosting around the edge of the bottom layer so the lemon curd doesn't zlich out. Then crumb coat and frost with buttercream.

Print lemon layer cake recipe.
Print vanilla buttercream recipe.

PS I linked to Sweet as Sugar Cookies' Sweets for a Saturday #21 post.


ButterYum said...

Lovely! I've been admiring all the rose cakes in blogland lately. I guess I think I'll make one soon.


Amy said...

Your cake is absolutely gorgeous. I'm sure Gina enjoyed your cake and her b-day a lot. :) I know I would with such a beautiful cake.

I'm not good at cake decorating and yours looks perfect.

Thank you for sharing and have a wonderful day.


Anonymous said...

Hi could you tell me what type of nozzle you used for the rose piping it is very effective.

jami said...

@Anonymous: these were piped with a 1M tip. It's great for rosettes on a cake or a cupcake!