What a week.
It’s been the week of disappointing desserts in my kitchen. I won’t fill you in on all the details, but just picture curdled eggs in custards, and seized-up chocolate batters. I really needed something comforting to turn to, and that for me is soft, spongy chiffon cakes. Lucky for me, as when I opened up my issue of Gourmet this week, I saw a recipe for Meyer Lemon Cake with Lavendar Cream. Well, I had neither Meyer lemons nor lavender on hand, but I did have a nice big grapefruit and a delicious jar of honey that I picked up from work. So I gave it a go.
And wouldn’t you know, it looked nothing like the picture in the magazine. It didn’t rise up very well into a nice poofy domed shape. Instead, it came out looking like a torte. (Next time, I will use a smaller than a 9″ springform pan.) The taste-test, however, reaffirmed my faith in magazine recipes. Like a chiffon cake, it was light and spongy. The generous portion of olive oil in the batter added a nice richness that balanced out the tang of the lemon curd. My honey pastry cream was runnier than I’d like, probably because I hadn’t chilled it long enough.
5 large eggs, separated
3/4 cup sugar, divided
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp grated grapefruit zest
1/4 cup fresh squeezed grapefruit juice
1 cup cake flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup plus 1 Tbsp sugar
3 Tbsp flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp lemon zest
3/4 cup lemon juice
1 large egg yolk
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
HONEY PASTRY CREAM:
1 cup whole milk
6 Tbsp honey
3 egg yolks
2 heaping Tbsp corn starch
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1. Cake: Preheat oven to 325F. Line the bottom of a 9″ springform pan with parchment paper. Butter the paper and the sides of the pan. Set aside.
2. Beat together egg yolks with 1/2 cup sugar until pale and thick, about 3 minutes. At medium speed, beat in oil, and grapefruit zest and juice until just combined. Sift in flour and mix at low speed until just combined.
3. Beat whites in another bowl until foamy, and add in the remaining 1/4 cup sugar a little at a time. Beat until whites just hold soft peaks. Fold in 1/3 of whites into the yolk mixture to lighten, then fold in remaining whites gently. Transfer batter to the prepared pan, and bake 40-45 minutes until golden brown. Remove, cool for 10 minutes, release the sides, and let come to room temperature.
4. Lemon Curd: Whisk together sugar, flour, and salt in a small heavy saucepan, then add lemon juice in a slow stream, whisking until combined. Bring to a boil, whisking constantly, then simmer, whisking, until thickened, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat.
5. Whisk yolk in a small bowl, then add about one fourth of lemon-juice mixture, whisking vigorously. Whisk into remaining lemon-juice mixture and gently boil, whisking, 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in butter and zest. Transfer filling to a bowl and cover surface with buttered parchment paper. Chill until cool, at least 30 minutes.
6. Pastry cream: Heat milk and honey in a heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the honey, until almost simmering.
7. In a bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the corn starch and pinch of salt until the mixture is pale yellow and thick. Spoon some of the hot milk mixture into the egg yolks while whisking to temper the egg yolks. When blended, pour this back into the saucepan, constantly whisking. Continue stirring over low heat for another minute, and stir in the butter, one tablespoon at a time.
8. Strain the cream into a bowl to remove any lumps. Cover the cream with a piece of plastic wrap pressed directly onto the surface (to prevent a skin from forming) and chill for at least 4 hours.
9. Assembling: Cut the cake horizontally into 2 even layers (3 if your cake is tall enough). Spread a thin layer of lemon curd on the first layer, leaving a 1/2″ border around the edge. Spread a thicker layer of pastry cream over this. Top with the next cake layer. (Repeat if necessary, for 3 layer cake.) Press down gently so that the fillings can spread out to the edges. Dust with powdered sugar.