‘I would love to try this in cake,’ said Deborah of Café Frank on tasting my lemon marmalade. So this weekend, with Deb in mind, I baked an Alice Waters sponge, adding lemon zest and juice, sandwiching the two halves with marmalade and plenty of whipped fresh cream, and dusting the whole cake with icing sugar. The sweet-tart intensity of the marmalade was exactly right for bringing together the two more subtle layers.
The cake was a thank you gesture for a family friend who helped out with some German translation and turned into a reason for Kaffee und Kuchen in their home. Standing on the threshold with cake-stand, lemon cake and glass cloche in hand I was amazed to see the interiors had remained unchanged since the house was built in 1962. In an instant my ongoing fascination with all things vintage pullled into focus.
For at least the first third of my life there were weekend afternoons spent in settings such as this one, accompanying parents and grandparents on visits to German friends and relatives. Funny how an aesthetic once associated with a sense of duty and mild boredom – relieved momentarily by a long-awaited slice of Kuchen - now brings on nothing other than fond feelings of nostalgia and associations of cake and conversation, family and community.
Lemon Layer Cake
Although the original was made with two cakes, next time I would divide the same mixture into three for more marmalade surface area. The recipe is from The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters.
200g unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups caster sugar
3 cups cake flour, sifted
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
4 eggs, separated
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp finely grated lemon zest
2 tsp lemon juice
1 cup milk
- Preheat the oven to 180C. Butter and flour three 18cm cake tins.
- Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl.
- Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
- Add the egg yolks one at a time, beating well after each addition.
- Add the vanilla, lemon zest and juice.
- Add the flour and milk a third at a time, alternating between the two and beating after each addition.
- Whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form. Add a third to the cake mixture and mix in to loosen. Add the rest of the egg whites to the mixture and fold through until well combined.
- Divide the mixture between the tins and bake for about 30 minutes.
- Cool completely.
- Whip the cream until soft peaks form. Spread two cake layers with a thin layer of marmalade. Top one with half the cream and place the next layer on top. Cover with the rest of the cream and another layer. Dust generously with icing sugar and serve.