Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter Egg Basket Cake

This was the Easter Egg Basket Cake I made this Easter. It was lemon cake with lemon curd filling and buttercream frosting for the grass and the basket weave. The Easter eggs on top were candy melt pops I made a couple of days in advance and the handle I rolled out of fondant reinforced with wire in the center. Read on for the recipes... :)

Lemon Cake
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
1 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
1 cup sour cream
the zest of 1 lemon
the juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 cup milk
Preheat oven to 350F. Grease two 9-inch round pans and line with parchment paper.
In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of your electric mixer, beat eggs and sugar until thick and creamy (about 2 minutes).
Blend vanilla, lemon extract, oil, sour cream, lemon zest, and fresh lemon juice. Add flour and milk, alternating- starting and finishing with flour.
Pour in pans. Bake 25-30 minutes or until they test done. Cool before filling and frosting.
You can certainly use a ready, store bought lemon curd for the filling, or you can make your own., such as this delicious recipe, courtesy of Alton Brown:
Lemon Curd
5 egg yolks
1 cup sugar
4 lemons, zested and juiced
1 stick butter, cut into chunks and chilled
Add enough water to a medium saucepan to come about 1-inch up the side. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, combine egg yolks and sugar in a medium size metal bowl and whisk until smooth, about 1 minute. Measure citrus juice and if needed, add enough cold water to reach 1/3 cup. Add juice and zest to egg mixture and whisk smooth. Once water reaches a simmer, reduce heat to low and place bowl on top of saucepan. (Bowl should be large enough to fit on top of saucepan without touching the water.) Whisk until thickened, approximately 8 minutes, or until mixture is light yellow and coats the back of a spoon. Remove promptly from heat and stir in butter a piece at a time, allowing each addition to melt before adding the next. Remove to a clean container and cover by laying a layer of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the curd. Refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.

Recipe for lemon curd courtesy of Alton Brown:

The buttercream frosting I used for this cake is admittedly extremely sweet (too sweet for my husband's taste for sure) but it is ideal for piping work, especially for the basket weave technique as in this cake. The saving grace here is that the cake is lemon with lemon curd filling, so the sweetness of the frosting is balanced with the tanginess of the lemon flavors in the cake.

Buttercream Frosting

1 1/2 cup (3 sticks butter), at room temperature
1/2 cup shortening (I am not crazy about this, but it does make the frosting stable for piping)
1/2 tsp salt
8 cups (about 2 lbs) powdered sugar, sifted
1-2 tsp vanilla extract (or the flavor of your choice)
5-6 tbsps (or more) heavy whipping cream, or half-and-half, or whole milk

In the work bowl of your stand mixer, beat butter and shortening on medium-high until very smooth and creamy (2-3 minutes). 

Add sifted powdered sugar gradually (covering your mixer with a towel to avoid clouds of powdered sugar all over your kitchen), and continue creaming until well blended. 

Add salt, vanilla, and  whipping cream/ half-and-half/ milk. Blend on low speed until moistened. Add additional 1-2 tbsps whipping cream if necessary. Beat at high speed until frosting is fluffy. Frost your cake and enjoy!                 


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