Whilst I was reading 'The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake' a week or so ago, I decided it was a good idea to make lemon cake (obviously it doesn't take much to convince me to make food). It's quite a quirky little book and even after finishing it a few days ago, I'm still not sure what my verdict is. It definitely made me think - Is it possible to taste the feeling someone puts into their cooking? I don't want to give away too much, but the book is based on this idea. I'm not sure, but it is a long held belief that 'love' is sometimes what makes dishes taste extra spesh, I'd hope this is true.
I do put my feelings into my cooking, so I wonder if anyone can taste them? Sometimes there are so many contrasting feelings in one dish, (if there was a magic person who could taste), I'd feel terribly sorry for them and the confusion they would taste with each bite.
Sometimes I cook because I'm sad, sometimes I cook because I'm happy, sometimes because I miss people and sometimes because it calms me. I guess the lemon cake has a little of all of these in it. It's impossible not to miss my gran when I get out her old mixing bowls and it's hard not to wish that my besties were here with me to share the cake fresh out of the oven. Of course, there is happiness that comes with the anticipation of the cake and the sadness from whatever sad things have happened - we all know, that in each life there is plenty to be both happy and sad about.
Anyway, after reading the book, it was pure coincidence that I stumbled upon a lemon cake with black tea frosting recipe on Pinterest (I am absolutely addicted to pinterest- for those who want- you can follow me) and it looked so utterly beautiful, I thought I might die of envy. Obviously the blogger Hannah from Honey and Jam is very talented in both cooking and photography and styling- lucky girl!
Anyway, it turned out to be the perfect recipe (which Hannah used but originally comes from Dorie Greenspan's From my home to yours) and whilst I didn't make the icing (which is Hannah's invention and I intend to make next time) I did make the cake and the syrup and the candied lemons to pop on top. I think the cake would be even better with the icing (obviously, doesn't icing make EVERYTHING better?) but for something simple and not too sweet- the cake is perfecto.
You all know I'm not the world's best baker, but I'd better get practising because the local show (which in The Sticks is a VERY big deal..) is coming up and there are many cake contests to be entered into! The competition is obviously VERY SERIOUS and there are pages of rules to be followed and plenty of tough grannies who are bound to slip me some false tips and who want to retain their cake championship medals from the last 50 years.
I'm here to tell you that G.G. is in town and probably doesn't pose much of a threat at all, but will enter anyway. Isn't it just darling that the entries cost 50 cents and the prize money is $5 or $10?! I'm going to have to figure out how to stop cracks in the cake, as well as get a few tips up my sleeve to somehow make the most glorious cake ever. If I keep checking pinterest and getting inspiration from other beautiful blogs, surely a miracle could happen? If you have any handy hints, let me know! Otherwise, make this lemon cake, because lemon cake is the perfect cake to eat whenever, especially at the beginning of Autumn with a cup of herbal tea and whether you are happy or sad (unless you have the magic tasting thing) it will taste just as good and may even cheer you up just a little bit.
Perfect Party Cake from Baking: From My Home To Yours by Dorie Greenspan
2 1/4 cups cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups whole milk or buttermilk
4 large egg whites
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon pure lemon extract
Center a rack in the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 9-x-2-inch round cake pans and line the bottom of each pan with a round of buttered parchment or wax paper. Put the pans on a baking sheet.
Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.
Whisk together the milk and egg whites in a medium bowl.
Put the sugar and lemon zest in a mixer bowl or another large bowl and rub them together with your fingers until the sugar is moist and fragrant.
Add the butter and, working with the paddle or whisk attachment, or with a hand mixer, beat at medium speed for a full 3 minutes, until the butter and sugar are very light. Beat in the extract, then add one third of the flour mixture, still beating on medium speed.
Beat in half of the milk-egg mixture, then beat in half of the remaining dry ingredients until incorporated. Add the rest of the milk and eggs, beating until the batter is homogeneous, then add the last of the dry ingredients.
Divide the batter between the two pans and smooth the tops with a rubber spatula.
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the cakes are well risen and springy to the tough – a thin knife inserted into the centers should come out clean.
Transfer the cakes to cooling racks and cool for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the cakes, unmold them and peel off the paper liners. Invert and cool to room temperature right side up.
While still warm, poke each layer all over with a fork, and pour over lemon glaze (recipe follows). When cool, frost cake with black tea frosting & garnish with candied lemon slices.
1/4 cup sugar
3 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
Method:In a small bowl, combine the sugar and lemon juice, stir with a fork.