As part of my blogging break, I’ve asked some of my friends to guest post. This post is from Katrina, who writes over at Tea Pages. We’ve been following each other’s blogs for quite a while and I’m so excited that she’s posting here today. Enjoy!
I am so honored to be guest blogging for Relishments. I am always so inspired by Emily’s beautiful descriptions of fresh foods, creative recipes, and kitchen tips. Her CSA posts have been positively drool-worthy. Thank you for welcoming me.
My name is Katrina and my usual blogging is about tea over at Tea Pages. I also write about tea (as well as food allergies and parenting) for a range of consumer and trade magazines. While I still have to pinch myself when writing it, I also have a book being released by Tuttle Publishing in October called "A Tea Reader: Living Life One Cup at a Time." It’s a collection of essays from people across the world — tea shop owners, a tea farmer, an academic, writers, and other ordinary people — who have experienced a revelation, a powerful conversation, a journey, or a career decision inspired by tea. You can learn more about the book on my website: www.tea-reader.com .
Today, however, in honor of Emily’s blog, I’m going to veer off my usual topic in honor of cake. My parents have been in town for a couple of days and since my mom just celebrated a birthday I decided it was time for some special baking. She adores lemon and I had a vision of what I wanted to make — a layer cake with lemon curd and a whipped cream frosting. It was a bit ambitious to begin with considering I have a 6 year old, 4 year old, and 9 month old in the house. But there is one other challenge and that is food allergies. No peanuts. No dairy of any kind. No eggs. Was my cake even possible?
Step one: the cake. I’ve become pretty adept at baking vegan cakes so I knew I could handle that part of things. My usual recipe is to sift together 2 cups of sugar, 3 cups of flour, 2 tsp of baking soda and 1 tsp of salt and then mix in 3/4 cup vegetable oil, 2 tsp vanilla extract, 2 tbs white vinegar, and 2 cups of water. I pour that into two greased and floured 9" round cake pans and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. It makes a denser cake than traditional cakes, but it is certainly moist and flavorful. After baking and cooling those rounds I halved them each to create four thin cake layers. Step one done.
Step two: Lemony syrup. This was the easiest part. I combined 1/2 cup of sugar with 1/2 cup of hot water and stirred until it was dissolved. Then I mixed in 1/4 cup of fresh lemon juice.
Step three: "Lemon curd". For this I used the filling from the Ener-G website for their Ener-G Egg Replacer Lemon Meringue Pie. It was a simple recipe, combining egg replacer, sugar, salt, hot water, lemon juice, and lemon zest in a double boiler. I strongly recommend that you stir CONSTANTLY until it is done so you don’t end up with any lumps. (Speaking from experience.) This lemon filling was amazing. I wanted to eat it with a spoon. (OK, I did eat it with a spoon. Shhhh…Don’t tell.)
Step four: Whipped "cream" frosting. For this I adapted a recipe from "Eating with Food Allergies," using regular flour in place of rice flour, soy milk in place of rice milk, and melted dairy-free margarine in place of the grapeseed oil. Again, stirring constantly is critical when combining the flour and soy milk on the stove. I added a bit of confectioners sugar at the end to provide a bit more sweetness and to give it a bit more body. I also added the zest of 2 lemons because, really, there can’t be enough lemon. I really liked this frosting.
Step five: Assembly – This is where it all came tumbling down…almost literally. I placed the first round, brushed it with a generous amount of the syrup, added the curd and then a thin layer of the frosting (which was very difficult to do on top of the curd.) I repeated for all the layers and immediately the curd started leaking out the sides of the layers and the whipped cream frosting wasn’t firm enough to do any kind of barrier at the edges of the rounds. Ack! I finally gave up trying and did a loose layer of the frosting on the sides and top and said, "It won’t be pretty, but it will taste good."
And, in the end, it did. The flavor was amazing; the presentation was not. I think next time I wouldn’t cut the rounds — I would do two thicker layers with a layer of curd in the middle. Then I’d do the whipped cream frosting and serve each slice of cake with a big dollop of the curd on the plate. It would be a prettier presentation and give me far less heartburn.
Any other suggestions for preventing my fillings from running away?