When one of your best friends turns 27, you throw down in the cake department. At least that’s what my friends and I do.
So I started planning for Samantha’s birthday cake weeks in advance. Sam’s birthday is in the beginning of April, right when Spring starts to tease you with a few warm, sunny days. So a cake that says Spring! She doesn’t really like chocolate in an obsessive way, which is OK because in my book this time of year rings in the beginning of fruit-baking season.
So when I saw a white chocolate cake filled with lemon curd, I figured I’d found my cake. I like white chocolate in certain situations, where you don’t want a chocolate flavor perse, but you want a nice, sweet cake. I looooove lemon curd. Have you ever had it? Seriously, it’s worthy of eating all by itself with a spoon. Creamy, tangy, delicious. Balances out the white chocolate perfectly. I was completely inspired by the original cake’s pretty pastel-colored frosting and polka dots, but not so much the fact that it was cream cheese based. Too heavy. So I opted for whipped cream. I felt really good about giving this cake to Sam to celebrate her life.
Also, a note. I’m normally terrible at assembling layer cakes. As in they end up lopsided, the icing melting down the sides, and the layers sliding apart. This cake was supposed to be four layers (bake two layers, slice each in half). The idea of four layers scared the shit out of me. I went with two. I also think the whipped cream as icing really helped. It slathered on easily and I didn’t have to do a lot of smoothing. The pink and yellow really helped the whole thing look nice, too I think. Sam said the yellow dots looked like popcorn. I’ll let you decide!
I did use some layer cake tricks that I’ve picked up on various blogs. I’ll bold them in the directions below. I did do the cake over two days. Actual cake (and curd if you make your own) day one, whipped cream and assemblage day two.
Lemony White Chocolate Cake
adapted from Hot Polka Dot
For the Lemon Curd
If you’re going to make your own lemon curd, you’ll need to do it first because it has to sit in the refrigerator for about an hour. (It can stay there for a week though.) I happened to have a jar of store-bought lemon curd in my cabinet, so I used that (a 12 ounce jar was perfect). If you do want to make your own, check out this recipe at Smitten Kitchen. It’s not hard at all! Be sure to set aside four of the egg whites for the cake though.
For the Cake
6 ounces white chocolate, chopped
4 egg whites
1 cup milk
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 cup cake flour (or substitute)
1 cup 3 tbsp granulated sugar
1 tbsp 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
2/3 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
Preheat the oven to 350° and position a rack in the center. Butter two 9 inch spring form or cake pans and fit the bottoms with a circle of parchment paper. Butter the lined bottoms and set set aside.
In a double boiler or a heat proof bowl set over simmering water melt the white chocolate. Keep an eye on it as it melts and stir it consistently. Once it’s smooth and melted remove it from the heat.
While the chocolate melts, in a medium bowl lightly mix together the egg whites, 1/4 cup milk, and vanilla.
In a large bowl that goes with an electric mixer stir together the cake flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add the butter and remaining 3/4 cup milk and mix everything together on low speed until just combined and wet. Increase the speed to medium to beat it for another 1 1/2 minutes. Add the egg white mixture and beat for 30 seconds. Lastly blend in the melted chocolate until it’s incorporated.
Divide the batter in the prepared pans and smooth the tops with a spatula. Bake them for about 25 – 35 minutes and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Set your timer for 15 minutes. Check the cakes, even though they probably won’t be done yet. Set the timer for 5 minute increments, checking with a toothpick in between each, until you reach 25 minutes or the cakes are done. Let the cakes sit in the pans for about 10 minutes before turning them out and letting them cool completely on cooling racks.
Wrap the cakes in plastic wrap or slide them into large freezer zip lock bags. Set them in the freezer for an hour or overnight. When you get ready to assemble the cake, remove the layers. Don’t defrost them. The fact that they’re frozen will help you assemble the cake without the layers breaking.
For the White Chocolate Whipped Cream Frosting
From Baking From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan
6 ounces white chocolate, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
Put the white chocolate in a heatproof bowl and put the bowl over a saucepan of gently simmering water. Stir frequently to melt the chocolate. Meanwhile, bring 1/2 cup of the heavy cream to a boil. When the chocolate is melted, remove the bowl from the pan. Pour the hot cream into the melted chocolate and let it sit for a minute. Using a small saptual, stir the chocolate until it is smooth. Let it sit on the counter until it reaches room temperature. It must be cooled when you add it to the whipped cream. Pour the remaining 1 cup of heavy cream into a large bowl. Add one color of food coloring (the color for not the dots, in my case pink) to the cream until you get the color desired. Working with an electric mixer with the whisk attachment, beat the heavy cream only until it holds the softest peaks. Turn the machine to high, add the cooled white chocolate all at once and continue to beat until whipped cream holds firm peaks.
I repeated this all with 3 ounces of white chocolate and 1/2 cup heavy cream for the yellow dots.
To Assemble the Cake
Remove the cake layers from the freezer. Using a serrated bread knife, even out the edges of the cake. Gently slide the knife across the top of each layer to slice off any unevenness on the top. Your layers should be more or less flat and even now.
Set one layer on a cake stand, plate, or cake carrier. Using a spatula, slather 2/3 of the lemon curd on top of the layer. Gently set the second layer on top. Warning: the layers may slide a bit! Spread the rest of the curd on top of the second layer.
Clean off your spatula. Carefully spread the larger batch of whipped cream over the entire cake. I usually generally cover the cake and then go back and patch up spots and smooth the edges.
If you’re making dots or little edges like I did, put the yellow whipped cream into a plastic bag with a corner cut off or any frosting/piping equipment you have. Point your froster right at the cake and make a nice little edge all around the bottom. Cover the cake in polka dots.
Refrigerate cake for about an hour or until ready to serve.