Lemon Triumph Cake


One of the items on my ‘To-Bake’ list was a Lemon Triumph Cake I spotted over on Willow Bird Baking.  The recipe seemed challenging, as there were several components to make. Making cake and buttercream isn’t new to me, but I’d never made a Lemon Curd or Mousse before! I decided I’d put the recipe on my ‘To-Bake’ list and give it a try when I had a reason to make another cake.

While I was at work last Saturday, I got a text from one of my good friends asking if I was working Sunday. I was, and I asked why…come to find out, she was offering to pay me to bake a cake for a party at her husbands office on Monday. She told me to forget it since I had to work, that she’d make something, but it wouldn’t taste as good as something I could make. Awww…Well, as it turned out the cake wasn’t needed until Tuesday, so I was able to make it. When I asked what kind of cake her husband wanted, she said vanilla and lemon. Perfect excuse to make the Lemon Triumph Cake!

This is a time-consuming recipe. I am a natural born procrastinator. My argument for my procrastination is that it forces me to come up with something great the first time around! If you’re smart, you’ll do like Julie on Willow Bird Baking suggests and make this cake in stages. If you’re like me, you’ll do it in one morning, running errands while each element is cooling or setting up!

I altered the recipe a bit- I prefer white cake with lemon flavored icing or filling, so I used my standby white cake recipe. I did use the Lemon Curd and Mousse recipes straight from WBB. The icing was my own lemon buttercream.

All in all, I think I could have decorated the cake a little better, but from what I hear it tasted fantastic! Can’t wait to try it again and have a bite myself.

Lemon Triumph Cake adapted from Willow Bird Baking

Lemon Curd:
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks (save the whites for later)
2/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest.

Using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar in a large bowl for about 2 minutes. Add eggs and yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat for about a minute after the last egg is added. Add lemon juice and mix well. The mixture will appear curdled- this will disappear when heated.

Transfer the mixture to a heavy saucepan and cook on low heat until smooth. Increase the heat to medium and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens and reaches 170 degrees on a candy thermometer. Don’t let this mixture boil! Remove from heat, and stir in lemon zest. Transfer to a small bowl, and place a layer of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the curd- this will prevent a skin from forming. Place in refrigerator- curd will thicken as it cools.

White Cake adapted from Sporkorfoon, who adapted it from Cook’s Illustrated

2 1/4 cups cake flour
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon table salt
1 cup milk (original calls for whole, I used 2%)
3/4 cup egg whites (6 large or 8 medium)
1 teaspoon vanilla
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened but still cool
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare pans- will make 2 9-inch layers. Mix dry ingredients in large bowl with a wire whisk, and set aside. Pour milk, egg whites and vanilla into a smaller bowl and whisk until combined. Add butter to dry ingredients, and mix with electric mixer on medium speed until mixture resembles crumbs. Add all but 1/4 cup of milk mixture, and beat on high speed with hand mixer (medium if you’re a bigshot with a stand mixer) for 1 1/2 minutes. Scrape down sides of the bowl, add the remaining milk, and beat for an additional 30 seconds.
Pour into pans or prepared muffin tins, filling 2/3 of the way full. Bake cakes at 350 for 23-25 minutes. Remove from oven, and let cool in pans on wire rack for 15-20 minutes. Put pans in freezer for 15 minutes, then turn cakes out of pans and wrap each layer in 3 layers of plastic wrap to help lock in moisture. Place back in freezer until ready to use.

Lemon Mousse:
1 recipe lemon curd (above)
2.5 tablespoons water
2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
3 large egg whites
3/8 cup sugar
3/4 cup chilled heavy whipping cream

Place water in small saucepan and sprinkle gelatin evenly over the surface. Let sit until gelatin softens. Place 7/8 cup of the curd into a large bowl and set aside. In another small saucepan, heat the remaining curd over medium-low heat until very warm.

Turn the burner for the gelatin mixture to medium-low, and stir until gelatin dissolves and liquid is clear, being careful not to let it boil. Whisk warm gelatin into the warm curd, then whisk the warm curd into the bowl of cold curd that has been waiting oh-so-patiently.

In a medium bowl, beat egg whites with electric mixer until soft peaks form. Slowly add sugar, continuing to beat until egg whites are thick and glossy. Gently fold this mixture into the curd in 3 additions. Using the same beaters, beat the cream until peaks form. Gently fold this into the curd as well, making sure mixture is smooth. Place mousse into refrigerator until slightly, but not completely, set.

This recipe made twice as much mousse as I needed for my cake…but it’s just as great on its own as it is in a cake! I also used it as a cupcake filling a few days later, with the same cake and buttercream because I wanted a taste of this cake for myself! Yum!!

According to my mom, they’re my best cupcakes yet!

Back to the cake…Remove one frozen cake layer from the freezer, unwrap, and place on a cake board. Top with a generous layer of mousse, spreading to the edges of the cake. Place this layer back in the fridge until mousse is set, then top with second cake layer.

Lemon Buttercream
3 sticks unsalted butter, softened

6 cups powdered sugar
3-4 teaspoons lemon extract
Milk or heavy cream to thin
2 drops yellow gel food coloring
Cream butter in bowl using electric mixer. Add sugar in small batches, adding milk or cream a tablespoon at a time to achieve desired consistency. Add food coloring if desired, and lemon extract.
Use a small amount of icing to crumb coat your cake, and place back in the fridge for 10-15 minutes until icing is set. Frost with remaining icing. I reserved a bit to decorate with, and added a drop or two of yellow food coloring to get a darker frosting for some contrast. Use your imagination! I also topped with fresh raspberries, but you could use any fruit, or none at all.
Enjoy, and let me know what you think!

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