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Lemon Mascarpone Layer Cake

Serves: Makes 1 cake

Ingredients:

  • 1 recipe Lemon Curd click here

  • Sponge Cakes:
  • 6 large eggs, separated
  • 7 tablespoons plus 7 tablespoons sugar
  • 1¾ cups sifted cake flour

  • Lemon Syrup:
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

  • Mascarpone Filling:
  • 2½ cups heavy whipping cream
  • 7 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 pound mascarpone


Procedures:

This soft, moist, towering cloud of a dessert lies somewhere between a cake and a trifle, its lemon syrup–soaked cake layers alternating with lemon mascarpone cream. Perfect for entertaining, the cake is at its best the day after you assemble it, when the flavors and textures have had a chance to blend and mellow. Meyer lemons are especially fragrant, but this cake is outstanding with supermarket Eureka lemons as well. There are a few steps here, but almost everything can be done ahead, which makes putting it together pretty easy—check the notes at the end of the recipe.

Preheat the oven to 375°F and position oven racks in the lower and upper thirds. Fit each cake pan with a parchment round. Do not grease the pans.

Make the cakes: Whip the egg yolks and 7 tablespoons of the sugar in the bowl of the stand mixer on high speed until thick and very light in color, 4 to 5 minutes. You can also use a hand mixer and a medium bowl, although you may need to beat the mixture a little longer to achieve the same results. Transfer to a large bowl and set aside while you whip the egg whites.

In the cleaned mixer bowl with the cleaned whisk attachment, or in the cleaned medium bowl with clean beaters, whip the egg whites on medium speed to soft peaks. With the mixer running, gradually add the remaining 7 tablespoons of sugar; continue beating until the egg whites hold firm peaks. Fold one-third of the egg whites into the beaten yolks with the spatula, then use the fine-mesh strainer to sift half of the flour over the top and gently fold it in. Repeat. Fold in the last of the egg whites until no streaks of white remain.

Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. Bake for 18 to 22 minutes, until the tops are golden, firm to the touch, and a toothpick inserted into the centers comes out clean. Halfway through the baking time, switch the pans on the racks so they bake evenly. Transfer the cakes to a rack to cool completely.

Make the lemon syrup: Heat the sugar and water in the small saucepan, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has completely dissolved and

Make the mascarpone filling: Place the cream and sugar in the cleaned mixer bowl and whip until soft peaks form. Place the mascarpone and 1 cup lemon curd in a large bowl and stir until blended—it should be the consistency of pudding. Gently fold in the whipped cream until the mixture is homogenous and thick. If the mixture becomes overworked, it will look grainy or separated. If this happens, stir in several tablespoons of cream with the spatula and stir just until the mixture has smoothed out again. Transfer 2¼ cups of filling to a medium bowl to use for piping decorations. Transfer half of the remaining filling to another medium bowl. Refrigerate all 3 bowls of mascarpone mixture. You may want to label the three bowls: one for piping, one for filling layers, and one for frosting.

Unmold the cakes: Run the thin, flexible knife or spatula around the edge of a pan to loosen a cake. Turn the pan upside down and give it a sharp rap on the table to release (don’t worry, these cakes are very sturdy). Turn the cake right side up, leaving the parchment paper attached. Repeat with the remaining cake. Level the cakes, if necessary (see page 308). Using the serrated knife, slice each cake horizontally into two layers (see page 308). Set aside one of the bottom layers to use last, and remove the parchment from the other layer.

Assemble the cake: Place a cake layer, cut side up, on the cake cardboard or serving plate. Brush the cake with ¼ of the lemon syrup. With the icing spatula, spread ⅓ of the mascarpone filling on top. Place 3 level tablespoons of the remaining lemon curd on top of the filling and spread evenly to the edge. Place a second cake layer on top, cut side up, and repeat with lemon syrup, mascarpone filling, and lemon curd. Place third layer on top, cut side up, and repeat.

Top with the last cake layer, placing it bottom up (cut side down). Remove the parchment paper. Voila!—a crumb-free surface for frosting. Moisten it with the remaining lemon syrup. Use the cleaned icing spatula to spread the mascarpone reserved for frosting mixture over the cake, spreading it quite thinly on top with more on the side.

Finish and serve the cake: Spoon the piping mascarpone into the pastry bag and pipe rosettes (page 310) over the entire top of the cake, starting around the outside edge and working your way to the center. Put a few tablespoons of the remaining curd into a resealable plastic sandwich bag and squeeze it into one of the corners. Snip off the corner and pipe a center of lemon curd into each of the rosettes. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving, so the flavors and textures have a chance to meld. To serve, slice with a thin, sharp knife.

Storing: The cake will keep, refrigerated, for 3 to 4 days. Once cut, there is no need to wrap the whole cake with plastic;

The Art & Soul of Baking: Reprinted with permission of Andrews McMeel Publishing, recipes by Cindy Mushet, photography by Maren Caruso

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