on days like today, I don’t miss boston.
I remember waking up to white flakes, a black lump of dread slowly forming in my stomach. in many boston neighborhoods, you are responsible for shoveling yourself out of the snowy mess that buries sidewalks, cars, and any hope of sleeping in on the weekend. (because god forbid you sleep in and people walk on the sidewalk, pressing the snow into rock-hard slabs that must be slowly, painfully chipped away.)
but on other days, I remember the blazing hot summer days spent in boston, wandering the streets around kendall square, snacking in the numerous bakeries in the area (and inevitably ending up at hmart aka korean supermarket paradise). on many a weekend, I would end up at flour bakery, drowsing in the warmth as the sun set the counter aglow. my friends and i would chat and watch as the parade of hipsters, tech kids, old professor types, and professionals passed in front of the wide storefront windows (and sometimes we’d make up their life stories, often with bizarre and funny-only-to-us results). we would split a slice of lemon raspberry cake (my favorite), their bread pudding (also amazing), or their famous sticky buns, savoring the sweetness that tinged those lazy summer days.
dear boston, this cake is for you. there will be an end to the seemingly endless snow, and in the way boston weather sometimes works, summer will suddenly be upon you. but in the meanwhile, you can make this cake on a snow day and in the tang of the lemon curd and sweetness of the buttercream, taste the promise of spring.
6 tbsp (86g) unsalted butter, room temperature
6 tbsp (75g) canola oil
1 (200g) + 1/3 (70g) cups sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp lemon zest (~1 lemon)
3 cups (360g) cake flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 cup (240g) milk, room temperature
6 egg whites (save 4 yolks!)
1 cup (240g) fresh lemon juice (4-6 lemons)
1/4 cup (56g) unsalted butter
2 tbsp heavy cream
2 egg yolks
1 cup (200g) sugar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups (300g) sugar
3/4 cup (180g) water
2 egg yolks
3 cups (681g) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup (120g) lemon juice, strained (2-3 lemons)
1/2 cup (120g) water
3/4 cup (150g) sugar
1 pint (260g) raspberries
joanne chang. flour: spectacular recipes from boston’s flour bakery cafe. san francisco: chronicle books, 2010.
2 using a stand mixer with paddle attachment, cream together butter, oil, and 200g sugar for 2-3 minutes, until light and fluffy. scrape down sides of bowl with rubber spatula, mix for a few seconds more, then add vanilla and lemon zest.
3 sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. on low speed (~2 on kitchenaid), add 1/3 flour mixture to butter-sugar mixture, mix until incorporated. add 1 cup milk, mix until incorporated. repeat alternating additions until well-incorporated. scrape down sides of bowl with rubber spatula, mix a few seconds more, then transfer batter to large bowl.
4 clean mixer bowl well. using whip attachment, beat egg whites on medium speed (~6 on kitchenaid) for 3-4 minutes, until they hold soft peaks. on medium speed, slowly add remaining 70g sugar, whip for 1-2 minutes until whites are glossy, shiny, and hold hard peaks.
5 using a rubber spatula, gently fold 1/3 whipped egg whites into batter to lighten it. gently fold in remaining egg whites. (don’t over mix! if the batter still appears lumpy, that is fine.) divide batter evenly among prepared cake pans.
6 bake for 25-30 minutes, until each cake layer pulls away from sides of pan and top starts to become pale golden and the middle springs back when lightly pressed. let cool in pans on wire racks for 30 minutes, invert onto racks, peel off parchment, and let cool for another 2 hours, until completely cooled.
lemon curd|1 while cake layers bake, combine lemon juice, butter, and heavy cream in medium nonreactive (aka not aluminum) saucepan. in medium heatproof bowl, whisk together eggs and egg yolks until blended, then slowly whisk in sugar until combined. remove lemon juice mixture from heat and gradually whisk into sugar-egg mixture a little at a time, until incorporated.
2 when all hot liquid has been incorporated, return contents of bowl to saucepan and return saucepan to medium heat. stir continuously with wooden spoon, scraping bottom of pan frequently to prevent eggs from scrambling, for 5-8 minutes, until mixture thickens and thickly coasts spoon.
3 remove curd from heat and strain through fine-mesh sieve into bowl. whisk in salt and vanilla. cover tightly and refrigerate 1-2 hours, until cold. (can be made 5 days in advance and stored in the fridge.)
buttercream|1 in small saucepan, bring sugar and water to boil and cook, without stirring for 3-4 minutes. while sugar syrup boils, beat together eggs and egg yolks with a whip attachment in a stand mixer on medium speed for 3-4 minutes, until pale and light.
2 remove sugar syrup from heat. on low speed, slowly pour syrup into eggs. turn speed to medium and whip for 6-8 minutes, until mixture turns light and fluffy, pale, and cool to touch. turn speed to low and add butter, a few chunks at a time. increase speed to medium and continue to whip for 4-5 minutes. (mixture will break and look curdled initially, but will become smooth and silky.)
3 add salt and whip until completely combined. (can be stored in fridge for 5 days, brought to room temperature, and whipped before using.)
syrup and assembly|1 in small saucepan, boil lemon juice, water, and sugar over high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.
2 scoop ~3 cups buttercream into medium bowl, add ~1/2 cup lemon curd, and whisk together until well-combined. Set aside ~1/2 cup curd and remaining buttercream.
3 using serrated knife, trim tops of cooled cakes to level them. place first layer on cake stand/plate and brush generously with 1/3 lemon syrup.
4 spoon ~1 cup curd-buttercream onto cake layer and use offset spatula to spread to the edges, forming a raised “flood wall” on the edge. carefully spread ~1/2 cup curd on top of buttercream. sprinkle half of raspberries evenly on top of curd.
5 carefully place second layer on top. brush with remaining lemon syrup. place in fridge to set for an hour.
6 remove cake from fridge and cover entire cake with a ~1 cup buttercream in a thin layer – the crumb coat. refrigerate once again for ~30 minutes to set the crumb coat.
7 decorate the cake with ~1 1/2 cups buttercream. spread the remaining 1/2 cup curd on top of the cake in a thin layer. garnish the top with raspberries. (cake can be stored in an airtight container in fridge for 2 days.)
use leftover buttercream and curd to make cupcakes!