We had quite the rip-roarin' party for my mom's birthday on Wednesday night. There was some great food, great conversation, relatively well behaved kids (after the 3 year old was escorted outside for a talk), and some really scrumptious cake. I'm not ashamed to say that my cake was scrumptious. I put a little more effort into this cake than I usually do, since my mom is awesome and deserves a cake to match. This cake not only tasted awesome, but it was also physically awesome -- it was so tall I had to kinda smoosh it down a little to get the lid to close on my cake carrier. This is my 1950's vintage cake carrier made for layer cakes, too. So if you're making this cake, make it for a crowd, because it's A LOT of cake and be prepared to improvise with its transportation because it's super tall.
The cake part of this cake is a lemon chiffon cake. If you aren't familiar, a chiffon cake is a very light like and is essentially a cross between a traditional cake and an meringue. There are two big differences between a chiffon cake and a regular cake. A chiffon cake uses oil as its fat rather than butter. This is because oil is easier to aerate than butter, so it's easier to achieve the lightness you're looking for. I actually used vegetable shortening, which is hydrogenated vegetable oil. You'll still get the same lightness as oil, but personally I prefer the texture of the cake made with shortening rather than with oil. The other difference is how you use the eggs. The eggs are separated and the whites are beaten to stiff peaks, like a meringue, and then folded into the rest of the batter as the very last step before baking. This also adds to that lightness you strive for with a chiffon cake.
Don't worry about wasting the egg yolks you didn't use for the cake, though -- every last stinkin'
one of them goes into the filling. The filling for this cake is a lemon-pineapple curd. You could use it just on its own on toast or on a spoon....It does make a delightful cake filling, though.
Beat that sugar and shortening until it's super light and fluffy, at least 3 minutes. Then mix up the rest of your batter. You're gonna beat up the egg whites in another bowl.
Fold the egg whites into the batter in three batches. Fold it gently, so you don't deflate the egg whites. If you just start stirring, you'll literally deflate them and your cake will end up most similar to a hockey puck.
Divide the batter into three 8" round baking pans. And, yes, I am aware that all three of my cake pans are different, but they're all the same diameter and that's all that matters.
While your cakes are baking, go back to all those egg yolks that have been waiting patiently for you....
Just put all the stuff for the filling on the stove over low heat and stir, stir, stir. Have patience -- eventually it will thicken. Just remember it will thicken a little more as it cools, so leave it a little thinner than you want it to end up.
Once your cakes are cool, take a serrated knife and slice the tops off so they're flat and nicely stackable. This is another reason to love layer cakes, because now you can eat the scraps.
Put a third of the filling on top of the bottom cake.
Then the second layer of cake, then more filling, then the top cake, and finally the last of the filling.
Throw some raspberries on top if you want. You don't have to, but they sure do look pretty.
I also went and picked some fresh mint from my garden to add that little extra garnish love. I also spread a very, very thin layer of sweetened whipped cream on the sides, but that is absolutely optional. It's a nice touch if you want a more finished looking cake.
Lemon Chiffon Cake with Lemon Pineapple Filling
makes one three layer cake
For the cakes:1 cup vegetable shortening or oil
2 cups sugar
3 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
Grated zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 1 lemon
8 egg whites, beaten to stiff peaks
For the filling:
8 egg yolks
1 cup sugar
Grated zest of 2 lemons
Juice of 2 lemons
20 can crushed pineapple, undrained
1 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp flour
Raspberries, for garnish (optional)
Whipped cream for garnish (optional)
To make the cake layers, preheat the oven to 350°. Lightly grease three 8" round cake pans; set aside.
Beat the vegetable shortening or oil with the sugar on medium speed until very light and fluffy, at least 3 minutes. In a separate bowl, stir together the flour and baking powder. In another separate bowl, combine the milk and vanilla. Add the flour mixture and milk mixture alternately, starting and ending with the flour mixture. Stir in the lemon zest and juice. Fold the egg whites into the batter in three additions, folding gently.
Pour the batter into the prepared cake pans. Bake on the center rack 25-30 minutes, or until the cakes are light golden brown and a tester comes out clean. Let the cakes cool in the pans for 5 minutes, then remove from the pans and let cool completely on wire racks.
In the meantime, prepare the filling. Combine all the filling ingredients in a large saucepan over low heat. Stirring almost constantly, cook until the mixture thickens to a spreadable consistency. Let cool before using.