So my best friend since second grade is getting married in the fall and I might get to make the cake. She is planning on having other desserts, so it won’t have to be as massive of a construction as some, but still, making someone’s wedding cake is a pretty big deal. Since I haven’t tried anything like this before, I decided to start testing out some recipes. Tonight some friends were having a birthday party, so it was the perfect time for my first test. The recipe is based mostly on one I found on epicurious. I stayed pretty close to the recipe for the cake, but ventured out a little farther with the rest. This recipe makes enough for one 11 x 7 x 2 rectangular cake.
I’d say this was a pretty good first test. The cake was very good, although I think my friend prefers raspberries to strawberries. I just happened to notice that strawberries were starting to come back in season here in Southern California. The cake was sense enough to cut nicely, but still moist, especially with the lemon syrup. And the lemon flavor helped kick up the flavor of the fruit.
Lemon Cake with Strawberries and Cream Cheese Frosting
2 1/2 cups flour
2 1/2teaspoons baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick plus 2 tablespoons softened butter
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cups milk
1 1/2 tablespoons finely shredded lemon zest
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar
Zest from one lemon, removed in large strips
Preheat the oven to 350. Butter the bottom and sides of the baking dish. Line the bottom of the pan with wax or parchment paper, and then also butter the paper. Coat the pan with a light dusting of flour and set aside.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla, and then the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
Add the flour mixture and milk alternately, beginning and ending with the flour, mixing until just combined after each addition. Add the lemon zest and mix until just combined.
Pour batter in to the pan, and bake 35 to 40 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack for five minutes, and then invert the cake on to the rack or a clean baking sheet, and remove the paper. Allow the cake to cool completely. I found it helpful to make the cake a day ahead of time, so I didn’t feel rushed the day of and it had plenty of time to cool.
Using a serrated knife, cut the cake in to two layers horizontally. Remove the top half so you have the two layers sitting cut side up.
In a small sauce pan, heat the ingredients for the lemon syrup over low heat. Stir occasionally until all of the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat and allow to cool completely. Strain out the lemon zest.
Brush the cut sides of each layer of the cake generously with lemon syrup. Allow the layers to sit for at least 15 minutes so that the syrup can absorb.
Cream Cheese Frosting
1 1/2 sticks butter, softened
1 1/2 blcoks cream cheese, softened ( 12 ounces total)
3 teaspoons vanilla
5-8 cups powdered sugar
In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the butter and cream cheese until smooth. Mix in the vanilla. Gradually add the powdered sugar until you reach the desired consistency. It should be thick enough so that it doesn’t run off of the spoon, but still spreadable. Continue to mix until very smooth.
Spread a thin layer of frosting on the top of each layer of cake. This helps hold in the crumbs. I found it helpful to refrigerate the cake after each application of frosting. It was quite hot here today, so that might not be necessary on cooler days, but I found it helped solidify the frosting a bit so everything was a little easier to work with.
Take the layer that is going to be the bottom of your cake, and add a little more frosting to the top. Arrange a layer of thinly sliced strawberries, covering the top of the layer, and pressing down slightly so that the strawberries stick in the frosting.
Invert the second layer on top, so that both cut sides are facing the center of the cake.
Spread a thin layer of frosting on the top and sides of the cake, and the refrigerate once more for 10-15 minutes. Spread the final layer of frosting around the sides and top.
I decided to decorate my cake with sliced strawberries around the edge, which I gently pressed in to the frosting.