Apr 8, 2015

Lemon Cake with Mango Curd Filling and Lemon Buttercream Frosting

Spring is round the corner…yes, very much. Yellow and white are one of my all-time favorite color combinations and I had set my mind on a Lemon cake for Manish’s b’day. He too enjoys fruity flavors more than plain chocolate or vanilla. The final d├ęcor of the cake was a last minute on-the-go decision. I had tons of ideas in mind, but did not want a very time taking decorating process nor do something I’ve already done. 

Very recently I had seen a video shared by someone on a facebook group about how to get smooth ombre layers using buttercream and it looked quite easy and I wanted to give that a try. Another thing I wanted to try were buttercream flowers. 

You might have already seen my buttercream roses, so this time I decided to go for sunflowers, which was quite easy to pipe and have a lovely orangish yellow color. I initially thought of just doing sunflowers, but wanted a little extra color on the cake and did some quick roses and leaves for a final touch and to add freshness and a spring garden like appearance.

I love this view of the cake, where you can easily see the sunflowers, roses and leaves and also see the three ombre shaded colors cascading from orangish yellow to lemon yellow to white. Even my cakeboard is a flowery shape which was coincidental btw...

In this post I’m doing a simple tutorial with whatever pictures I was able to capture while I torted, filled, frosted and decorated Manish’s Spring themed Birthday Cake. And I’m also sharing the recipe for the Lemon cake, simple lemon syrup, mango curd filling and lemon buttercream. I apologize in advance if the post is too long, but I've tried making it as informative as possible.

First let's get to the recipe. I know it sounds like a lot of work...well, hell ya it was. But so worth the effort and a completely new flavor that you might enjoy. Give it a try for a special occasion. 

Lemon Cake with Mango Curd Filling and Lemon Buttercream

Lemon Cake recipe
Recipe Source: Ina Garten

You'll Need
For Lemon cake
½ pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1/3 cup grated lemon zest (6 to 8 large lemons)
3 cups flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
¾ cup buttermilk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon LorAnns Lemon Oil (optional)

For simple Lemon Syrup
½ cup Granulated Sugar
½ cup Lemon Juice

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease two 8"x2" round cake pans. Line the bottom with parchment paper and grease the parchment paper as well.
2. Cream the butter and 2 cups granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. With the mixer on medium speed, add the eggs, 1 at a time, and the lemon zest.
3. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. In another bowl, combine 1/4 cup lemon juice, the buttermilk, vanilla and lemon flavored oil (optional). 
4. Add the flour and buttermilk mixtures alternately to the batter, beginning and ending with the flour. Divide the batter evenly between the pans, smooth the tops, and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until a cake tester comes out clean.
5. Prepare the lemon syrup by combining ½ cup granulated sugar with ½ cup lemon juice in a small saucepan and cook over low heat until the sugar dissolves.
6. When the cakes are done, allow to cool for 10 minutes. Remove the cakes from the pans and set them on a rack set over a tray or sheet pan. Allow the cakes to cool completely or refrigerate for few hours. Torte the cakes and brush or spoon the lemon syrup over the cake layers evenly.

Mango Curd recipe
Recipe Source: Adpated from Epicurious
Makes 1 to 1½ cups

You'll Need
1 cup canned mango pulp or One 15-ounce ripe mango, peeled, pitted, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
½ cup sugar
4 tablespoons fresh squeezed Lemon Juice
Pinch of salt
4 large egg yolks
¼ cup ( ½ stick) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

1. Puree fresh mango or Mango Pulp, Sugar, Lemon juice and salt in processor/mixer grinder, scraping down sides of work bowl occasionally.
2. Add in the egg yolks, puree 15 seconds longer. Strain through sieve set over large glass bowl (like Pyrex), pressing on solids with back of spatula to release as much puree as possible. Discard solids in sieve.
3. Set the glass bowl over saucepan of simmering water (do not allow bottom of bowl to touch water). Whisk puree until thickened and a thermometer registers 170°F, about 10 minutes (I cooked almost 15-20 mins to be safe as I had no thermometer). 
Remove from over water.  The curd should be thick and should coat the back of a spoon…that’s the desired consistency.  Whisk in butter 1 piece at a time. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Lemon Buttcream Recipe
I bought some LorAnn’s Lemon flavored oil in clearance at Michaels. 
Pic courtesy: Google Images
It was amazing and I highly recommend these flavoring oils for any baking or candy making projects and there are all kinds of flavors available. They impart immense flavor even with the usage of a small quantity. I loved using them in to flavor my cake and buttcream with a fruity lemon flavor.

I made a double batch of below recipe. The lemon flavor is mild and not overpowering.

You’ll need
Unsalted Butter , at room temp – 1 cup (that’s  2sticks or ½ pound)
Powdered sugar or Confectioners’ sugar (sifted) – 3 or 4 cups
Pure Vanilla Extract – 1 tblsp
Lorann’s Lemon flavored Oil – ½ teaspoon
Milk or heavy cream – 4 tblsp or as needed
Salt – a pinch (optional)

1.Beat butter until smooth and creamy using a paddle attachment on medium speed if using KitchenAid mixer or using electric hand blender.
2. Add 3 cups of powdered sugar , little at a time on low speed, until it mixes well with the butter.
3. Increase the speed to medium and add Vanilla extract lemon oil, salt (if using) and 4 tblsp of milk/heavy cream. Combine well for few minutes until smooth and creamy.
(If you want a thicker frosting add remaining 1 cup sugar. If you want a thinner consistency add more milk 1 tblsp at a time )

Now lets see how this all came up. I'm sharing how I generally fill, crumb coat and some basics of how I went about decorating this cake (these steps can be followed for any cake you make frosted with buttercream, ofcource decorations styles and techniques might vary). I couldn't take a lot of pics while doing the whole process, so pls bear with me. I hope this helps :-)

Assembling and decorating a layer Cake

Things to do atleast 1 day ahead:
1.  Bake two 8”x2” Lemon cakes.  
2.  Prepare simple Lemon syrup.
3.  Prepare Mango Curd Filling. If using whipped cream also for filling, prepare that as well and keep both fillings refrigerated. (prepare whipped cream just before actually filling the cake)
4.  Make lemon flavored vanilla buttercream. (if refrigerating, bring it to room temperature before using)

After the cakes have completely cooled, I torte them (slice each cake in half) using a serrated knife. I prefer to refrigerate my cakes before doing this, so that they are cold enough and will reduce any crumbling of cake while cutting.
Place the cakes on a plate/tray with cut side up and using a pastry brush,  evenly brush the lemon syrup over the cake. It will be absorbed by the cake and helps keep the cake moist with added lemon flavor.

Place one layer of cake on a cake board and create a dam with buttercream. (I had plenty of leftover chocolate buttercream from an earlier cake, so used that ) Add enough mango curd filling to cover the cake, making sure it doesn’t spill out of the buttercream dam.

I added a little whipped cream on top of the mango curd filling to offset the tartness but it’s entirely your choice.

Stack the cake layers on top of each other and repeat the process above. Make sure the top layer of the cake is flat. Let this sit in refrigerator for 10 mins.

Now take your buttercream and fill it in the gaps between each layer.  Fill it in and make it as smooth as possible. This is how I do my crumb coat. Again refrigerate for 5 -10mins.

Next I shaded my lemon buttercream in two different shades of yellow and left the rest white.  I started with using my small offset spatula and applied a 1” high coating of the darkest yellow buttercream (this is lemon yellow + orange gel color mixed to get a sunflower yellow). Next I added a layer with the lighter shade of yellow and finished on top with white colored buttercream.

Use a bench scraper dipped in hot water, wipe away the water and gently smooth around the sides of the cake, making the three layers of color blend together. Repeat the process until the sides are very smooth. You may have to add/remove excess buttercream during this process….it’s does take some time, but its very rewarding in the end. Similarly smoothen the top of the cake with buttercream as well and slowly it starts to look like this :)

Finally I piped Sunflowers, Roses and some leaves on top of the cake for my Spring themed cake.
The sunflower centers were chocolate buttercream.
The Sunflower petals were piped with Wilton tip # 366 . 
The Roses were piped with Wilton tip # 104 . 
The leaves were piped with Wilton tip # 366
For a final touch I made a simple fondant ribbon and wrote 'Happy Birthday Manish!!!' and placed it on the cake board.

The pretty cake slice will look like this...yummmm...yummm! 

So there you are. Next time if possible I'll get Manish to take some pics of me while I'm piping the flowers or making smooth sides on the cake...its just dififcult to multi-task when my hands are full of buttercream...Lol!

See you all soon and have a lovely time.


Apr 1, 2015

A Spring B'day for my buddy!

It's a beautiful day today. Yes, a lovely 78F as I write this, no not fooling ya (as it's April Fool's day too today) and I'm just so blogging happy about that :-) We went for a lovely walk in the evening and Appu happily exclaimed "Mummy, you are not wearing jacket!!" I just love days like this and can't wait for more jacketless days.
I just took an unexpected break from blogging the entire past month for no particular reason, but I have to say the extra 'me' time felt very good....March flew by in a blink and trust me so will April.

As always March 29th turned out be a a very special and beautiful day, hubby darling turned a year older and it's been 3 glorious years in our lovely home. I baked and decorated a spring themed cake for hubby dear and planned for a fun potluck with our closest friends.
Climate-wise it was a bit cold so couldn't plan any outdoor activities, so we enjoyed indoors with the warm company of our friends, awesome food, wine and a fruity colorful cake.

Spring is round the corner and I'm jolly excited about it. I have always wanted to try making a Spring themed cake with some new buttercream decorating techniques and also try my hand at baking a citrusy Lemon cake for so long and Manish's b'day seemed a perfect occasion to try that out. Another thing I've wanted to try was fruit curd.....so ta-da, all in one....Lemon Cake with a tangy-sweet Mango curd filling and Yellow ombre buttercream sides with sunflowers and roses to symbolize the beginning of colorful Spring.
As the cake turned out too flowery for a guy I promised Manish a 'man-ish' cake next year...like a burger cake or beer cake or something non-flowery :-P :-P

I'll share an entire detailed post of the cake explaining how to make a layer cake, crumb-coating and of-course the recipe in my next blog post.....for today I'm just sharing these snaps.

The kids were having a blast in our basement and did not bother to come up for cake cutting! Appu sent his spiderman toy with a friend who went to call the kids saying spider-man represented him...oh well! :-) But we managed a quick pic after cake cutting while he came up to check what we were upto and ofcourse, for his share of cake...hehe!

The response for the cake flavor was mixed, some of our friends really enjoyed the refreshing citrus flavored cake, while others weren't a fan of it though they agreed that the cake was really good and they all loved the roses and sunflowers. Manish and I personally loved the cake flavor and even my colleagues enjoyed it when I took some to office but in all it was certainly a new flavor from the usual chocolate or vanilla flavors.

So more in my next blog post, which will be more fun with more cake pictures and detailed tutorial on how I made this cake with recipe et all....