What is more perfect than a lemon chiffon cake for a May birthday? Sandwiched between the layers is smooth and fantastic Meyer lemon curd and it is also used to flavor the frosting. Springy and light in texture, the cake is wonderful medium for luscious, tangy and rich curd. I haven't baked cakes for a while and I approached this task with trepidation. I just wanted it to be perfect because it is for one of the most important persons in my life; that is my husband. I breathed a sigh of relief when I cut a slice, it turned out like I wanted it to be.
The recipe is from my favorite cake book, Sky High by Alisa Huntsman and Peter Wynne. I've baked several cakes from the book and am always satisfied with the results. Each component of the cake can be made several days ahead so on the day of the birthday all I had to do was to assemble the cake. Triple-layer cake is a lot of cake so there's a few of people who got lucky tasting it :)
I really love the curd that accompanied the cake. Meyer lemons are in season right now and they are not to be missed. The exquisite flavor is almost floral, not unlike honey with a hint of thyme. I bought quite a bunch of Meyer lemons which I've already made into curd and am thinking of making tartlets with strawberry next.
Triple Lemon Chiffon Cake with Meyer Lemon Curd
Makes a 9-inch triple-layer cake; serves 16 to 20
8 eggs, separated
1/4 cup walnut oil
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed Meyer lemon juice
1 tablespoon grated Meyer lemon zest
1/3 cup water
1 /2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups cake flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Meyer Lemon Curd
Meyer Lemon Cream Frosting
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line the bottoms of three 9-inch cake pans with rounds of parchment or waxed paper but do not grease the pans.
In a medium-large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, walnut oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, and water.
In a large mixer bowl, whip the egg whites with the cream of tartar on medium speed until frothy. Gradually add 1/2 cup of the sugar and continue to beat until soft peak forms.
Sift the flour, remaining 1 cup sugar, baking soda, and salt into a very large bowl. Whisk gently to combine. Make a well in the center, pour in the egg yolk mixture, and stir to make a smooth paste. Add one-fourth of the beaten egg whites and fold in to lighten the batter. Fold in the remaining whites. Divide the batter among the 3 prepared pans.
Bake for about 16 minutes, or until a cake tester or wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer to a wire racks and let the cakes cool completely in their pans. To unmold, run a blunt knife around the edges to release. Invert to unmold; carefully peel off the paper liners.
To assemble the cake, place one layer on a cake stand or serving plate. Top with a heaping 1/4 cup of the Meyer Lemon Curd, and spread it out evenly. Repeat with the next layer and finally add the third layer. Frost the top and sides with the Meyer Lemon Cream Frosting.
Meyer Lemon Curd
Makes about 1 cup
Note that while of this curd is used to fill the cake, 3 tablespoons should be reserved to flavor the frosting.
3 whole eggs
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed Meyer lemon juice (from about 4 lemons)
Grated zest of 3 Meyer lemons
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
Whisk together the whole eggs, egg yolks, sugar, lemon juice, and lemon zest in a medium bowl. Transfer to a small heavy nonreactive saucepan. Gently heat the mixture, whisking until it thickens enough to coat a spoon; do not boil. Pour this mixture through a wire mesh strainer into a heatproof dish (this catches all of the rubbery parts of the egg whites and removes the zest). Stir in the butter and cover the curd with plastic wrap, pressing it to the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate it until needed.
Meyer Lemon Cream Frosting
Makes about 3 1/4 cups
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons Meyer Lemon Curd
Whip the cream with the sugar in a large chilled bowl with chilled beaters until somewhat stiff peak forms. Be careful not to fully whip at this point because the curd will need to be folded in. Fold in the lemon curd, forming a stiff frosting.
Source: adapted from Sky High by Alisa Huntsman and Peter Wynne