Regardless if I’m in Canada, or London, when the days get warmer, longer, and the sun shines a bit stronger, barbeque parties start cropping up – in parks, back gardens, patios. These gluttonous BBQ sessions, spanning from 2 hours into the early hours of the evening, will leave your belly bulging from all the charcoal-kissed food, but we all know that when dessert gets brought out, there’s a separate stomach for that.
This week’s recipe is a lemon buttercream cake – a light, seasonal cake, perfect for hot summer days and a deliciously, light ending to an indulgent BBQ or summer feast.
Oddly enough, my only memory of this cake goes back to a summer lobster dinner that was hosted by my elementary school as a fundraiser or something to that effect. I remember after eating as much as my 8 year old stomach could hold, I dug into the cake my dad had supplied for the event. From the first mouthful, you got a sense of the tartness from the lemon curd cutting through the sweetness from the buttercream and light vanilla sponge.
And thanks to that slight bit of acidity, you can still eat a slice of this cake after two BBQ servings without having to undo an extra notch in the belt.
LEMON CURD CAKE WITH BUTTERCREAM
Part 1: Sponge
This can be made up to two days in advance. Wrap in cling film and store in the fridge.
1 egg yolk
120 g sugar
140g AP flour
10g melted butter, cooled.
½ cap Vanilla flavouring
- Set oven at 175C⁰F/325⁰C
- Grease a 9” tin, then lightly coat with flour. Shake any excess out.
- In a bowl, beat the eggs, egg yolk and sugar with a hand mixer until the mixture doubles in volume, and forms a thick mixture. The more air that is beat into the eggs will help make the sponge rise.
- Slowly fold the flour into the egg mixture until just incorporated. Careful of over mixing here as it could deflate the eggs.
- Take the melted butter and slowly pour it in, while folding, add half a cap of vanilla flavouring and keep folding until incorporated in.
- Pour mixture into your greased tin and place within centre of oven to bake for 45 minutes – hour
- You may need to turn the tin 20-30 minutes in depending how even the baking is. To check if the sponge is ready, use a sharp knife, or toothpick, and stick it in the middle of the sponge. If it comes out clean it’s ready.
- Set aside and cool.
Part 2: Lemon curd
This can be made up to 5 days in advance and kept in an airtight jar in the fridge. Bring to room temperature before assembly, approximately 30 minutes needed outside the fridge.
Zest and juice of one lemon
30g unsalted butter
1 egg yolk
- In a small saucepan, whisk the zest, lemon juice, sugar together.
- Lightly whisk in the egg and egg yolk.
- Place saucepan over low heat and add butter.
- To ensure you don’t end up with scrambled citrus eggs, keep whisking!
- The mixture will thicken, once it reaches a consistency where you can coat the back of a spoon.
- Remove from heat and allow the curd to cool before spooning it into a container.
Part 3: Buttercream & Assembly
340g unsalted butter (or a vegetable oil-based spread can also be used) – slightly softened
Icing sugar (approx. 600g but would do this to taste)
3 tbsp sugar
100mL boiling water
Vodka/Gin/or Lemoncello to taste – you want a light tasting alcohol so it doesn’t take away from the delicate citrus flavours of the lemon curd.
- In a small bowl or cup, pour the boiling water over the 3 tbps of sugar, mix until dissolved and set aside to cool. You can always make this ahead of time, or put it in the fridge to chill faster. Add in a shot of vodka/gin/lemoncello once cold (optional)
- Cut off the topping from sponge cake (as thin as you can!) horizontally, slice the sponge into 3 even layers. I find it helps if you start slowly cutting into the side, making your way around before cutting into the middle.
- NOTE: if you don’t want your cake to be as high, 2 layers will do
- To make your buttercream, beat the butter in a large bowl until soft. Add about 200g icing sugar and beat until smooth.
- Continue adding icing sugar until the buttercream reaches your desired level of sweetness. Add a splash of milk if buttercream needs loosening up and beat until creamy and smooth.
- NOTE: continually beating the buttercream will oddly enough help lighten the colour, this is especially helpful if you are using pure butter which tends to give a creamy yellow finish.
- Take the bottom layer of the sponge, and using a pastry brush, carefully dab the sponge to lightly moisten the surface with the sugar water mixture.
- Cover bottom layer with buttercream, about 1cm, spread evenly with palette knife.
- Spread a thin layer of lemon curd on top of the butter cream
- NOTE: you can mix in the lemon curd into the buttercream, but do this in small batches and to taste, as too much lemon curd and its level of acidity can cause the buttercream to break!
- Repeat steps 5-7 until you end up with the top layer of sponge. Cover the top layer with buttercream and along with the sides – it should not be more than 1cm thick.
- Decorate as you wish! I’ve used some homemade macarons (same lemon curd/buttercream mix filling), crushed meringue and crushed lemon sweets.