March 20, 2011
Lemon Cake -- a real lemon
Dooley and Doolia proved today that not every recipe in The Complete America's Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook is foolproof. We ambitiously decided to make the Lemon Cake today. Having gained some understanding of the time involved in some of these recipes, we started the process at noon. We made the lemon curd first, which came out perfectly. But it needs to cool for 4 hours before you spread it between the cake layers. So we had some time to relax and do laundry before we started the cake.
The ingredients for the cake are supposed to be at room temperature, so it's lucky Doolia read ahead and set those ingredients out on the counter while the curd chilled in the refrigerator.
After an hour, we started to put the cake together. Dooley did all the measuring, and, being a beginner at all this, he didn't measure out enough cake flour. Since neither of us knew what the cake batter was supposed to look like, I didn't catch the error, and the springform pans went into the preheated oven full of a too-loose batter.
About 10 minutes into the baking time, I went to rotate the pans and found that batter was leaking all over the bottom of my freshly cleaned oven. And the cakes hadn't risen at all. I left them in for the remaining time, pulled them out, cooled them, then turned them out onto the cooling rack. They were a mess. We had a choice to give up or start the cakes over again. So Doolia pulled out another set of ingredients to come to room temperature, cleaned everything up and we started over. This time the right amount of everything went in, and when the cakes came out of the oven, they were about twice as high as the first ones. But still not the fluffy cakes we expected. I think perhaps our baking powder is past its prime. I'll buy some new next time I go marketing.
When the cakes had cooled, we cut them into two layers each, and layered the cold lemon curd between, and returned the whole thing to the fridge to chill again.
This time, Dooley cleaned the pans and bowls while Doolia started the frosting. Following the directions precisely, I heated the eggs, sugar, water, and lemon juice over a pan of simmering water, stirring constantly. It took almost 1/2 hour for it to come up to to 160 degrees farenheit. Then I put the bowl under the mixer with the wire whisk attachment and set it to run at high for 5 minutes. By the end of that time, it should have been forming soft peaks, but it wasn't. I ran it for another 5 minutes, and still no peaks. Another 10 minutes, and the mixer was heating up so I decided that it was good enough. It was 9pm, after all, so I poured the white stuff over the top of the cake and it drizzled down the sides.
Then we ate. It had taken us all day to make this cake, and honestly, it wasn't that good. I told the family that they shouldn't expect a cake like this for their birthdays. A time-consuming disappointment. But that's cooking for you, sometimes it's fantastic, and sometimes not so much. Fortunately, just about every other recipe we've made from The Complete America's Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook
has been a delight to make and eat. So undaunted, we continue our quest.
Posted by jdooley at March 20, 2011 09:46 PM