Saturday, June 11, 2011

Lemonade Layer Cake

Today is my second favorite day of the year, a very close second behind Christmas. I am one of those obnoxious people who makes a huge deal out of their birthday. I guess because there are 4 birthdays in my family in one week (no that's not a typo, there is one on the 21st, the 22nd, the 24th and the 28th) and my birthday has always fallen on Memorial Day weekend, it just kind of became one big weekend of combined celebration. While I can't always celebrate with my family on my b-day, I still maintain the weekend approach. I apologize to everyone, I know that's annoying. This year, I have a wonderful weekend planned, with theater, dinner out with my wonderful bf, brunch with friends and even a massage. But of course, no birthday is complete without a wonderful cake. While I really appreciated my bf's offer to make the cake, I also wanted it to taste yummy, so I politely declined and insisted that I enjoyed the baking process as well as the eating (which isn't a lie, I really do).

Here are some highlights of my day before I get to the main attraction. In addition to some wonderful presents, my parents sent me these gorgeous flowers. I also had delicious pancakes and bacon this morning. Probably my favorite breakfast ever.












This picture does a better job of showcasing the incredible lilies. Seriously, these things are gigantic and make the entire apartment smell beyond fantastic. Anyway, I will get to the point...This cake is definitely one of my favorites. It's an amazing combination of sweet and tart. Even bf who doesn't like lemon loves it, and I mean loves it. I am the first to admit it's not the prettiest thing. It won't be gracing any magazine covers or anything, but when it comes to taste, this little guy hits a home run.

Lemonade Layer Cake
from Cooking Light 
Cake:
  • 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 6 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
  • 3 tablespoons thawed lemonade concentrate
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/4 cups fat-free buttermilk
  • Cooking spray
Frosting:
  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
  • 2 teaspoons thawed lemonade concentrate
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 8 ounces 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
  • 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
I started by putting the softened butter, lemonade concentrate, lemon peel, sugar and vanilla in a big bowl. Using my hand mixer (while day dreaming about a standing mixer), I combined these ingredients.





Then I added the two whole eggs and the additional two egg whites and mixed together again. A quick tip about separating eggs: you can buy a little do-hickey thing to do it for you, but I find that it doesn't work very well. Nothing compares to the old tried and true method of pouring the egg into your palm, letting the whites run through your fingers, and GENTLY tossing the yolk back and forth between your hands until all of the whites have fallen into the bowl below.
Next, I put the dry ingredients (baking powder, baking soda, salt and flour) in a separate bowl and whisked together. The whisking is an important step in this cake for two reasons. 1) It makes sure the baking powder and soda are dispersed evenly and thus the cake rises evenly. 2) It brings air into the dry ingredients resulting in a fluffier, lighter cake.


Then, I added 1/3 of the dry mixture to the big bowl and mixed it together. After it was mixed in, I added 1/2 of the buttermilk and mixed again. I added another 1/3 of the flour, mixed, then the rest of the buttermilk, mixed, and finally the last 1/2 of the flour and mixed again. The resulting batter is on the left. It's incredibly light and fluffy, which is exactly as it should be!


I poured half of the batter into each greased 9 inch pan. Another tip: after spraying the pan, gift it a sharp smack against the counter. This step will reduce the bubbles in the spray.





I baked both cakes at 350 for 20 minutes, or until you can insert a toothpick and remove it cleanly. Then, I let the cakes cool in the pan on wire racks for 10 minutes.






After ten minutes, I cut around the sides of the pan with a knife and laid a piece of parchment paper over the top of the pan. Then, I put the rack over the parchment paper (upside down) and flipped all three pieces together so that the pan is upside down on the parchment paper and the rack. With a few taps to the back of the pan with a knife or your palm, the cake should come right out. The parchment paper is helpful when you go to plate the cake. The top is always a little sticky because the cake is so light, so the parchment paper keeps the cake from sticking or sinking into the rack.
The frosting has to be in the fridge for an hour before you spread it on the cake, so I always start while the cakes are baking. First, I combine the cream cheese, lemon peel, vanilla and butter until it is smooth.





Then I added the powdered sugar slowly (about a cup at a time), mix and then add more. This way you don't end up with powdered sugar all over the kitchen and your clothes. Once the frosting is done, cover the bowl and put it in the fridge for an hour.




After the frosting is cooled, place one of the cakes on whatever plate you want. (Keep in mind the cake should stay in the fridge when you are done serving so you want a plate or dish that will fit). Then cover the top of the first layer with frosting. I know it seems like there isn't enough frosting, but I swear you'll have extra, so don't be stingy with this layer.


Then place the second cake on top.








Next, frost the sides of both and the top of the second layer.







Finally, cut in and enjoy!












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