I decided on the dessert for my grandmother’s birthday. She loves lemon so I made a Lemon and Vanilla Bean Cake filled with Lemon Curd and coated in Cream Cheese Frosting.
For the cake I used a recipe from culinary school for Yellow Butter Cake, but tweaked it with the zest of a lemon, an ounce of golden syrup, and a tablespoon of vanilla bean paste. Since I was filling the cake with a very tangy lemon curd I wanted the cake to be lightly lemon, almost just lemon scented, which is why I did not add any lemon juice. I wanted the aromatic lemon flavor with out any of the citrus tang.
The vanilla beans were just a whim, but they added a mellow vanilla note that really made the cake for me. With the delicate lemon flavor I decided cream cheese frosting would be best. It is tangy, but pleasantly so, and the softness compliments the smooth lemon curd. This cake is as much about texture as it is about flavor.
Because I wanted to test the experiment, just to be sure I had not preformed some dark culinary magick that turned the lovely butter cake into crap, I made a cupcake to test. Rest assured, with a smear of cream cheese frosting, it was lovely!
I mix this cake completely by hand. I suppose you could use a mixer, but every time I do it develops too much air into the batter and the cake ends up with tunnels and large air holes. I find that mixing by hand, and mixing until just combined, results in a cake with a finer crumb.
Needless to say, all ingredients should be room temperature. If you try to cream cold butter and sugar by hand you will wish you had not.
Lemon Butter Cake
12 oz. (three sticks) Unsalted Butter
13 oz. Sugar
Zest of 1 Lemon
1 oz. Golden Syrup
1 tbsp. Vanilla Bean Paste
15 oz Buttermilk
13 oz. AP Flour
1/4 oz Baking Powder
1/4 oz Salt
Preheat oven to 350 F. Prepare two 9″ cake pans with cooking spray and flour (or Bakers Joy).
In a bowl combine the butter, sugar, golden syrup, vanilla bean paste, and lemon zest. Mix until combined and slightly lighter in color, but not fluffy.
In a separate bowl, mix the buttermilk and eggs.
In a third bowl, sift the flour with the baking powder and salt.
Alternately add the flour mixture and buttermilk into the butter, in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour
Divide the batter between the pans and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the center springs back when pressed and the cake comes away from the sides of the pan.
Cool for ten minutes in the pans before turning out onto racks to cool completely.You may brush the cakes with simple syrup for additional moistness if desired, but they really don’t need it if you plan to eat it the same day it is baked.