22 March 2012

When Life Gives You Lemons

When life gives me lemons, I think I'd prefer to make lemon cake. Well, so life didn't actually give me lemons, I got them the very un-supernatural way at the supermarket, way too many of them. I've been craving for lemon cake for the longest time, specifically the lemon cake from House @ Dempsey. I think I started missing the marvellous cake just as I was leaving the restaurant. Come to think of it, I don't exactly remember how exactly it tasted except that it was wonderfully sour and tangy. I never got around to satisfying my craving because it's just darn hard to get to House, and I wasn't sure if the more accessible Skinny Pizza outlets offered desserts (and I always neglected to investigate).

Fast forward several months from my brief acquaintance with the aforementioned lemon cake and I chanced upon this gorgeous-looking thing while blog-surfing in the office (I swear I was doing work-related research). Good things have to be shared, so after gasping silently at my table, I sent the link to my colleague at the next table. It wasn't long before we started talking about lemon cake and I just had to rave about the version at House and she promised to check it out.

The long story short, we discovered that the best cake I've ever had in Singapore had been removed from House's menu. Of course, my Singapore cake directory is quite sparse because I don't order cakes often. But this cake is about the only cake I'd actually crave for, and it's now gone! Horror! Alright, so life is definitely asking me to make lemon cake.

Armed with a bag of lemons and the recipe, I started my lemony kitchen adventure. As I wanted to replicate my lemon cake experience at House, I decided to use lemon curd as a filling instead of ice cream. Lemon cake, lemon curd and a meringue topping, much like a lemon meringue pie with cake instead of a pastry case. I split the process into 3 days, partly because of undesirable photographing conditions and mainly because I was feeling a little lazy and dilly-dallied around.

I started with the lemon curd since the yield would be much greater than required and set aside a small portion while bottling the rest. The last time I made passionfruit curd, I used a double-boiler method. This time round I mastered enough courage to cook the curd directly in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. It's very easy to make and although I've always encountered slight problems of little bits of egg white, it doesn't bother me that much.

The lemon cake recipe was pretty standard, similar to what I usually do for my white cupcakes. Although I wanted to follow the recipe exactly, I think it is quite impossible for a baker with itchy fingers like me. I decreased the amount of sugar, upped the amount of lemon juice and added some honey at the very end when I thought it might be a little too sour. The cupcakes baked up beautifully with a moist crumb and a delicate tang of the lemons.

Fast forward again several months and I would have baked the cake for a Christmas party with my friends and even received "pre-orders". Wow. Then came my birthday. So to humour myself, I thought I would bake it for my birthday cake and take it as an opportunity to familiarise myself with baking a cake and decorating it.

Things just have to go wrong when you least want it to. My first cake came out of the oven undercooked in the center and I just had to realise it AFTER I had flipped it out of its pan. It crumbled and collapsed when I tried my best to flip it back onto a tray to shove it back into the oven and looked like an earthquake had struck. After ranting to a friend over MSN at around 1am on a Sunday morning, I decided to bake it again. Just so I wouldn't sulk the whole week (it was supposed to be MY birthday cake!). All the details aside, I finally managed to finish baking the cake, sandwich it with a lemon curd cream and a feeble attempt to decorate it with meringues (that I couldn't pipe properly) and whipped cream. It tasted not bad, and I especially like the lemon curd cream.

After so many attempts at trying to replicate THE lemon cake, I'm still nowhere close. I guess the problem lies in the fact that the cake is after all a butter cake recipe rather than a sponge which I think would be more suitable for sandwich cakes. Now, off to find the perfect sponge cake recipe!


Simply Tia said...

This cake looks delicious! Good use of all those lemons the supermarket gave you.

Taylor said...

Even though this isn't the cake you had in mind, it still looks amazing!! It seems like the perfect springtime cake :)

Anonymous said...

nice opinion.. thanks for sharing..