Lemon layer cake

I’m aware that people tend to disagree about Food Network star Paula Deen. Some people gush about her being a “hot-damn gun” and just like their “favorite Aunt, who doesn’t care what anybody thinks of [her],” even to the detriment of their readers, while others think that she’s hated because she’s thriving. But most people look at her with a less sympathetic eye, if not due to her Big Pork connection, then her Fried Butter Balls, which are seen as a blatant attempt by her “to kill us all.”

Like my opinion of the Rachael-Ray hate-then, I can’t understand why people need such a strong condemnation. It’s OK to call me vanilla. But, when I first saw her, she was showing her newlywed son how to make some recipes that she felt everyone should be able to make. I immediately wished for a Southern grandmother to show me how to make a giant lemon cake. It’s not as if she stuffed it with roasted corn. This Cake was for a group of guys that I’ve known (sigh) for 13 years. I even included the nicknames they were given by my friend Jocelyn on her blog. I can only say that these are well-deserved.

Deen’s recipe is the 1-2-3-4 Cake. I have knocked it around on this site because it baffles me that so many bakeries are using it as a model. But it does not mean it’s not a good recipe for anyone to add to their baking repertoire. It has a good flavor, is fluffy, uses light ingredients, and can be made in one bowl. This Cake comprises three layers, each filled with fresh lemon curd and topped with Seven-Minute Frosting. It tastes like marshmallows but is fat-free.

Unfortunately, Paula Deen’s recipes were lacking in instructions. The Joy of Cooking version of these recipes has that tiny bit of extra info that helps me not freak out. I was so worried after I whisked the lemon curd that my arm fell off that I didn’t realize it thickened upon cooling. Can you please attach my arm to that? The Joy of Cooking included a temperature check on the frosting. I liked the precision of this. I’m sure I only cooked the frosting for 7 minutes, but the extra detail calmed my anxiety better than wine.

Fine, I’m lying. It’s hard to balance being nice to the Food Network host with being friendly to your liver. Cake, mostly Cake.

The name of this Cake comes from the proportions of its ingredients: 1 cup of butter and milk with 2 cups of sugar, 3 cups of flour, and four eggs. It is a white cake that can be used for cupcakes or layers.

Yield: Three 9-inch layers for this Cake or 24 cupcakes.

2 cups sugar and 1 cup butter at room temperature
Four eggs
3 cups of self-rising flour, sifted
1 cup milk
One teaspoon of pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350degF. Cream butter with an electric mixer until fluffy. Add sugar, and continue to cream for 6-8 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time and beat well after each addition. Alternately add flour and milk to the creamed mixture. Start and end with flour. Continue to mix vanilla until it is just combined. Divide batter evenly between prepared pans. You can level the batter in each one by holding the pans 3 to 4 inches above the counter and then lowering them flat. This will release air bubbles, resulting in a leveler cake. Repeat this process several times. Bake the Cake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick or tester inserted in the center comes clean. (Start checking after 15 minutes when making cupcakes).

* Self-rising Flour contains both baking powder and salt. You can make it yourself at home using the formula: 1-cup self-rising = 1-cup all-purpose, minus 2-1/2 teaspoons, plus 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder, plus 1/2 teaspoon of salt.

Lemon Curd

The Joy of Cooking Adapted

The Joy of Cooking says: This is a delicious filling for Angel Food Cake or sponge rolls. You can also use it to marble a cheesecake.

Eight egg yolks
1 1/2 cups sugar
Butter, 1/4 cup (1/2 stick),
Three lemons grating the zest and juicing
Double boilers are used for cooking ingredients. Do not let the top pan come in contact with water. Stir and cook until the mixture starts to gel or slightly thicken. Allow to cool and remove from heat. Refrigerate and cover it to reduce.

Refrigerated, this keeps for approximately one week.

Seven Minute Frosting

The Joy of Cooking Adapted

5 Tablespoons of water
Cream of Tartar, 1/4 teaspoon
1 1/3 cups sugar
Two large egg whites at room temperatures
Light corn syrup, one tablespoon
Vanilla 1 teaspoon
You can also use 1/2 to 1 cup of chopped nuts or sweetened dried coconut shredded.

In a large stainless steel bowl, whisk together the first five ingredients. Set the bowl on a large, deep skillet with water simmering at a temperature of about 1 inch. The water level should be at least equal to the depth of egg whites. Beat the egg whites at low speed until they reach 140 degrees F using an instant-read temperature gauge. The whites will become overcooked if you stop beating the egg whites while the bowl is still in the pan. If you cannot hold the thermometer stem in the egg whites while continuing to beat, remove the bowl from the skillet just to read the thermometer, then return the bowl to the skillet, or yell “[Insert your husband/wife/sig-other’s name here]!! Help! Please help! “It might or mightn’t work.

Beat at high speed for five minutes. Add vanilla and beat on high speed for two to three minutes more to cool. If you’re using coconut or nuts, stir them in.

This frosting is best used the same day as it’s made.

Assembly of Lemon Layer Cake: Add one tablespoon of filling to the cake pedestal. Remove excess crumbs by running your hands along the sides of the Cake. Spread the filling on top and between the layers of the Cake before placing it on the pedestal. Spread the remaining filling on the sides and top. Frost the top and sides of the Cake with frosting.

My Cake may look thinner than others’: D’oh! The Cake looked too tall to fit in my cake carrier. I made cupcakes from the third layer, which I would save for another event. The cakes were OK, or I may have taken out too much cake batter, so I cut them in half and made a four-layer thin cake. Nobody noticed!

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