Friday, May 20, 2005

SHF#8: Pucker up with Citrus! Lemony Victoria Sponge Cake

You really couldn't have entered this months Sugar High Friday without one of the Microplane-wonders pictured here - well, maybe you could, but I for one wouldn't have wanted to! Microplaners make for the loveliest, fluffiest zest you've ever seen, and you don't get stuck with stringy pieces with all the white stuff still on it, in your teeth. And for me, going without zest in a theme like Pucker up with Citrus! would be a no-no! Alice of My Adventures in the Breadbox is the host this time. You could use anything that incorporated citrus in any form, shape or size - pomelo, lime, grapefruit, orange - my choice was the sunny lemon!

Now, I'm stretching the theme a bit here, I think - because I really wanted to use lemon curd (as I've done before), but I didn't make it myself - I'd love to try making it, but now wasn't the time. I bought it - but I promise you, it's made with the real deal! It makes your eyes go all squinty if you're one of those persons (like me!) that can't help yourself from spooning it out from the jar and into your mouth! Lovely! The recipe does call for both zest and juice of a lemon too, so I guess it's not an all-the-way cheat... And, I used my lemon-scented sugar!

What I made, after a brief encounter with a not-so-fantastic Citronmåne (a Danish Classic) - was a version of a Victoria Sponge that Nigella describes in How To Be A Domestic Goddess. No, no making up new recipes for me this time - I wanted true, tried, tested and terrific, and I have still to make a recipe from this book that is decidedly BAD or doesn't work. Some, I'm more satisfied with than others, but that's also a matter of taste I suppose.

I had all the things already in the kitchen - except the mascarpone, which I thought I could do without, or substitute. That proved to be a bit - well should we say, not fatal, only a bit more liquidy than I could have wished!

Lemony Victoria Sponge Cake - How To Be A Domestic Goddess, p. 15-16.

Basically - make sponge - add lemon zest, and substitute milk with lemon juice - bake - layer cooled cakes with mascarpone and lemon curd.

for the cake:
225 g unsalted butter, very soft
225 g sugar
4 large eggs
225 g self-rising cake flour
3-4 tablespoons lemon juice

For the filling/topping:
- well, lets get back to that one!

2 x 21cm cake tins, buttered

Preheat the oven to 180C

Cream the butter with the sugar and lemon zest.

- The black stuff in the picture is a bit of vanilla scraped out from a vanilla pod - okay, so the picture wasn't really taken during the making of this cake, but when I did the Citronmåne - but I just had to show you all that fluffy zest!

Add the eggs, one at the time, beating well after each one. Add a spoonful of flour after each has been incorporated. Fold in the rest of the flour, then add the lemon juice.

Pour and scrape the batter into the tins and bake for about 25 minutes, until the cakes are beginning to come away at the edges, are springy to the touch on top and a cake tester comes out clean. Leave the cakes in their pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes before turning out and leaving to cool completely.

When you're ready to eat the cake (that is, as soon as the cakes have cooled enough!) spread with your filling of choice. Now for me, even though the recipe said mascarpone and lemon curd - and did ask for you to make one layer of each (mascarpone between the two cakes, lemon curd on top) I choose to beat up a thick version of crème fraîche with 2 generous tablespoons of lemon curd. The taste was outstanding - sharp and astringent with the citrus, mellowed out by the cool, fat créme fraîche - but it got very liquid, and slipped of the sides of the cakes - naturally. The next day, it was pretty set, just not to pretty to look at - maybe if you add a little icing sugar - or layered it, with crème fraîche between the cakes, and put the curd on top, not beating them together first... Or, you know, just go for the mascarpone! But the lemon curd, you can't miss out on that!

The sponge itself had a nice hint of citrus, not overpowering, just a lemony glow and scent. Yum. I love it when I find "the recipes within recipes" like these, just from looking in the index in the back!

The recipes I've tried so far are way to sour, so have YOU made the ultimate lemon tart that I have to try? Mmm, or orange granita? Or Key lime pie? Lemon meringue pie? Grape fruit salad? Oh, the amount of dolces we're about to see!


Stephanie said...

Seriously, I'm trying to remember what life was like before microplane graters...I just can't do it.Nice looking cake!

Niki said...

I'e made a lemon, lime & Thai basil icecream (based on the Nigella lemon icecream recipe that doesn't need an icecream maker) but my brother has taken the camera, so I can't do the post!!!!! BUGGER!I bought a little zesting tool last year which I love - it's like a stick with a head with 5 little loops on it that take of thin zesty bits of citrus. I love it!!

chronicler said...

Microplanes rock! I used mine today too! I can't believe we used to do things with so much difficulty.Your cake looks really good. Your idea of using the creme fraiche was a good one. I love your pic!

Ana said...

Zarah Maria, I'm with you and the microplanes. I bought one recently and it is wonderful. Your cake looks scrumptious too.

Cathy said...

Hi Zarah - the cake sounds delicious, and the topping looks fantastic! I love the ways it pools over the cake.I've had a microplane for several years now, but didn't start using it to zest citrus until recently (I used it mostly for hard cheese). For some reason I found it difficult in the beginning, but now that I've got the hang of it, I think it's great!

Alice said...

I totally agree on the microplane graters!! You can bet I used one for my entry. Your Sponge Cake looks wonderful...I also adore lemon curd. I like the way the filling spills over the side...not at all messy if you ask me.

Melissa said...

Great post, really great photos!Nothing beats 'curd'!

Zarah Maria said...

Okay... so first of all, if the comments look all weird, it's because I just recreated them all - I accidently deleted ALL OF MY POST, including the comments!! Grrr, stupid Zarah!

And then, back to normal :-)

Thanks for all of your nice words! I can't believe how I ever made anything without my grater either!

keiko said...

Oh Zarah, I can't live without Microplanes either... (mines are 'professional' even though I'm not and they've got metal handles, he he) Have you looked at their website? They started making them as medical instruments, interesting... Your cake looks yummy too!

Nic said...

Zarah - I love a good sponge cake in summer. They're just so light!
I, too, love my microplane. We have them at cooking school, but I still see people tediously peeling and chopping zest by hand! Clearly, they don't have one of these babies at home and don't know what they're missing!

Lex Culinaria said...

Oh. I just love your cake. The combination of sponge cake and citrus sounds perfect for a summer dessert.

Jennifer said...

What could be better for a summery dessert than lemon sponge? Delicious, Zarah!

Anonymous said...

Let me join the chorus of microplane fans...I can't imagine my kitchen without them!

Now that that's out of the way, I can get on to praising you and your lovely Victoria's gorgeous and yours shots are looking great, Zarah!


P.S. I'm going to send you my recipe for the most awesome lemon curd EVER- I promise that you'll never go back to store-bought. Really. I swear!

Julie said...

Zarah, this is fabulous. The picture of the cake with the luscious lemony curd dripping down the side invokes IMMEDIATE cravings. I want some right now. And that picture of the lemons and the microplane is award-worthy. Brava, my dear.

Oh, and Moira? That lemon curd recipe does sound awfully good...