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Spring Celebration Cake

Spring Celebration Cake

Ingredients:

For the sugared violets:

  • 20 pesticide-free violets
  • 1 egg white, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp. water
  • 1 cup superfine sugar

For the vanilla cake:

  • 6 eggs
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 1/3 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 Tbs. grated lemon zest

For the lemon curd:

  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 Tbs. grated lemon zest
  • 5 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
  • 3 Tbs. unsalted butter, cut into 6 equal pieces

For the lemon sugar syrup:

  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 3 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 Tbs. confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Directions:

To make the sugared violets, carefully snip off the stem from each violet, then rinse the flowers gently and place on paper towels to dry.

In a bowl, whisk together the egg white and water until frothy. Using some of the sugar, spread a thin layer over a large plate. Holding each flower by its base and using a pastry brush, paint each violet on both sides with a thin coating of egg white. Then sprinkle lightly on both sides with sugar. Place in a single layer on the sugared plate and let dry for 2 hours before using.

To make the cake, have all the cake ingredients at room temperature. Preheat an oven to 350°F. Butter two 8-inch round cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the eggs, sugar and vanilla until a stiff ribbon forms that leaves a trail atop the batter when the beater is lifted, about 1 minute. Sift together half of the flour and the pinch of salt over the eggs and sugar. Add the lemon zest and fold the wet and dry ingredients together partially. Sift the remaining flour over the top and fold in until mixed. Pour the batter into the prepared pans, dividing it evenly.

Bake until a skewer inserted into the center of a cake comes out clean and the top springs back when lightly pressed, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer the cakes to a wire rack and cool in the pans for 15 minutes. Run a knife blade around the edges of the cakes, invert onto the rack and remove the pans and parchment.

To make the lemon curd, in a heatproof bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, lemon zest and lemon juice until blended. Place over a pan of simmering water but not touching the water, and whisk vigorously until the foam disappears and the mixture is very thick, about 10 minutes. Whisk in the butter until melted. Reduce the heat to low and continue to cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture is very thick, about 5 minutes more. Remove from the heat and whisk for 2 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap placed directly on the curd; set aside to cool.

To make the sugar syrup, in a saucepan over medium heat, bring the sugar, water and lemon juice to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Boil for 30 seconds. Remove from the heat and let cool for at least 15 minutes.

Place 1 cake layer, top side up, on a serving plate. Puncture in several places with a fork and drizzle with half of the sugar syrup. Spread the lemon curd evenly onto the cake. Place the second cake layer, top side up, over the first and repeat with the fork and remaining sugar syrup.

In a bowl, beat together the cream, confectioners' sugar and vanilla until almost-stiff peaks form. Spread over the top and sides of the cake. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or for up to 2 hours. Sprinkle with sugared violets just before serving.
Serves 10.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Seasonal Celebration Series, Spring, by Joanne Weir (Time-Life Books, 1997).