Lemon Poppyseed Layer Cake With Strawberry Buttercream + Lemon Curd

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Wow. This cake. It was my roommates birthday and  I started with the idea of simply making a lemon poppyseed cake. It was old fashioned, easy and as a general consensus, worthy as a birthday dessert.

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Then I thought streusel would be nice. Then I remembered there was lemon curd in the fridge (I seem to have a never ending supply…) and thought it would be nice sandwiched between. But why not sandwich in some fruit. And more streusel. Icing is always a nice touch too.

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Before I knew it, a lemon poppyseed loaf became this monster Momofuku-inspired cake. I don’t regret the decision to opt for outrageous vs. mediocre. My roommate celebrates her birthday. She made sure to have all of her favourite foods during the week leading up to her birthday, had a special dinner request and would remind everyone that it was her day. Not in an arrogant way, I’m totally the same! If it’s MY day, well; it’s MY day. And so, this multi-layered, multi-textured ‘princess cake’ as I dubbed it, was well received and well-suited for this particular birthday girl.

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I was worried there was too much going on: icing, strawberry jam, strawberry jam+ icing, lemon curd, liquid cheesecake, lemon curd+liquid cheesecake, streusel, oh yeah, and cake. But I trusted Momofuku’s instincts and went all-in with each component. And of course, it totally worked. The flavours were mashed together but were complimented and nothing was lost. The lemon was punchy, the buttercream and curd were luscious and the crunchy streusel plus poppy seeds were enough to differentiate it from a muddled trifle.

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This is a project cake, I’m warning you. We’ve had a particularly cold week and normally wouldn’t make a cake and buttercream in the middle of August. Lucky for my roommate, the weather worked out and  I didn’t have to cave and just buy ice cream. Even though  we know I’d make it.

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Momofoku Lemon Strawberry Cake

Serves 6-8

Lemon Cake

Adapted From lucywaverman.com 

  • 1/2  cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1/2 cup yogurt or buttermilk
  • 1 1/4 cups  brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • Splash of vanilla
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp  baking powder
  • Pinch salt
  • 2 tbs poppy seeds
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Butter and flour a rectangular cookie sheet.
  2. In mixing bowl, with an electric beater or by hand, beat together oil and sugar until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Beat in eggs one at a time. Beat in lemon zest, reserving juice
  3. In a separate bowl, mix together flour, baking powder and salt.
  4. . Combine lemon juice with yogurt. Alternating with flour, add yogurt mixture in 3 additions. Fold in poppy seeds when batter is almost completely combined.
  5. Fold dry ingredients into egg mixture. Spoon batter into cake pan. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.

6. Cool until ready to use. Can be wrapped in fridge for 2-3 days, in freezer for up to a week.

Brown Butter Streusel Topping

Adapted from williamsonoma.com

  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup butter, browned
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  1. Preheat oven to 300˚
  2. Brown butter. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, stir together flour, sugar, cinnamon and salt until combined. Drizzle in butter to combine. You should be able to clump the mixture together to form a ball.
  4. Bake on a cookie sheet for 20-13 minutes.
  5. Remove from oven and cool. Store in a sealed container in the fridge for 1-2 weeks or freezer for up to 6 months.

Lemon Curd

From Lucy Waverman’s Flavour Principal

  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup butter, cut into pieces

1. Place yolks into medium, heavy pot. Whisk in sugar, lemon zest and juice. Place pot over medium heat + whisk in butter by tablespoon.

2. Cook over medium-low heat, whisking constantly, about 6 minutes. Do not let it boil.

3. The curd should coat the back of a spoon when it’s done; set aside until ready to use. Keeps in the fridge for up to a week.

 

Liquid (Lemon) Cheesecake

From Momofuku Milk Bar Cookbook

Makes about 325 g (1 1/2 cups)

225 g cream cheese [8 ounces]

  • 150 g sugar [3/4 cup]
    6 g cornstarch [1/2 teaspoon]
    2 g kosher salt [1/2 teaspoon]
    25 g milk [2 tablespoons]
    1 egg
  • 1. Heat the oven to 300°.

2. Put the cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on low speed for 2 minutes. scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. add the sugar and mix for 1 to 2 minutes, until the sugar has been completely incorporated. scrape down the sides of the bowl.

3. Whisk together the cornstarch and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk in the milk in a slow, steady stream, then whisk in the egg until the slurry is homogenous.

4. With the mixer on medium-low speed, stream in the egg slurry. Paddle for 3 to 4 minutes, until the mixture is smooth and loose. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

5. Line the bottom and sides of a 6 x 6-inch baking pan with plastic wrap. Pour the cheesecake batter into the pan, put the pan in the oven, and bake for 15 minutes. gently shake the pan. the cheesecake should be firmer and more set toward the outer boundaries of the baking pan but still be jiggly and loose in the dead centre. If the cheesecake is jiggly all over, give it 5 minutes more. and 5 minutes more if it needs it, but it’s never taken me more than 25 minutes to underbake one. If the cheesecake rises more than a 1/4 inch or begins to brown, take it out of the oven immediately.

6. Cool the cheesecake completely, to finish the baking process and allow the cheesecake to set. The final product will resemble a cheesecake, but it will be pipeable and pliable enough to easily spread or smear, while still having body and volume. once cool, the cheesecake can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up 1 week.

 

Lemon Cheesecake

makes about 460 g (2 cups)

  • 1 recipe liquid cheesecake
    3/4 recipe lemon curd

1. Mix together and set aside until ready to use. Will keep in fridge for up to 2 weeks.

 

Strawberry jam

From Momofuku Milk Bar Cookbook

makes about 360 g (1 ½ cups)

 

  • 120 g strawberry puree [1/2 cup]
  • 3/4 cup chopped strawberries
    45 g sugar [1/4 cup]
  • 45 g strawberry jam [1/4cup]
    1 g kosher salt [1/4 teaspoon]

 

1. In a blender, whiz up chopped berries and pour into medium pot or saucepan.

2. Whisk together the sugar, jam and salt; bring to a full, rolling boil.

3. Reduce the heat and cook at a low boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat until ready to use.

4. The jam can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

Strawberry Buttercream

From Momofuku Milk Bar Cookbook and The Joy of Cooking

  • 1 cup strawberry jam recipe
  • 4 large egg whites
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter, at room temperature
  • *1-2 tablespoons liqueur

 

*Have everything at room temperature.

1.  Set bowl in a wide deep skillet filled with about 1″ of simmering water. Make sure water is at least as high as the depth of the egg whites in the bowl.

2. Beat egg whites on low speed with a hand mixer until the mixture reaches 140˚ on an instant-read thermometer. Do not stop being while the bowl is in the skillet, or the eggs will overcook.

3. Beat on high speed just until the mixture reaches 160˚, about 2-4 minutes more.

4. Remove from water bath and add vanilla.

5. Beat on high for 3-5 minutes, to cool. The whites should be stiff and glossy.

6. In a separate bowl, beat butter until creamy. Add a large dollop of meringue into the butter until well combined.

7. Continue adding meringue to butter, scraping he sides often. The mixture should be smooth and fluffy. Beat in liqueur if desired.

8. Will keep in fridge for up to a week or in the freezer for up to 6 months. Remember to refrigerate your desserts, otherwise buttercream will melt. This isn’t recommended for a hot, humid summer day.

9. Stir about half of the jam with 1 cup of buttercream. You will have extra, but no one will complain.

 

Assemble:

Makes 1 (6-inch) layer cake, 5 to 6 inches tall. serves 6 to 8

  • 1 recipe lemon poppyseed
    20 g lemon juice [1 ½ tablespoons]
    1 recipe pickled  jam
    1 recipe lemon cheesecake
    1/2 recipe streusel crumbs
    1 recipe strawberry buttercream

Special Equipment
1 (6-inch) cake ring
2 strips acetate, each 3 inches wide and 20 inches long, or 1 cut in half

1. Put a piece of parchment or a silpat on the counter. invert the cake onto it and peel off the parchment or silpat from the bottom of the cake. use the cake ring to stamp out 2 circles from the cake. these are your top 2 cake layers. The remaining cake “scrap” will come together to make the bottom layer of the cake. I actually cut these discs in half again, depending on the height of your cake, you don’t have to do this.

layer 1, the bottom

2. Clean the cake ring and place it in the centre of a sheet pan lined with clean parchment or a silpat. Use 1 strip of acetate to line the inside of the cake ring.

3. Put the cake scraps together inside the ring and use the back of your hand to tamp the scraps together into a flat even layer.

4. Evenly juice half the lemon over cake.

5. Use the back of a spoon or an offset spatially to spread the strawberry jam in an even layer over the cake.

6. Sprinkle 1/3-1/2 of the streusel crumbs evenly over the pickled strawberry jam. use the back of your hand to anchor them in place.

7. Use the back of a spoon or an offset spatula to spread half of the lemon cheesecake as evenly as possible over the crumbs.

*I truthfully stopped following the directions here. I used leftover curd, cheesecake, jam, crumbs and buttercream in no particular order when finishing the layers. As long as it stays together and isn’t too soggy, you should be able to use any order you want.

layer 2, the middle

8. With your index finger, gently tuck the second strip of acetate between the cake ring and the top ¼ inch of the first strip of acetate, so that you have a clear ring of acetate 5 to 6 inches tall – high enough to support the height of the finished cake. Set a cake round on top of the lemon cheesecake, and repeat the process for layer 1 (if 1 of your 2 cake rounds is jankier than the other, use it here in the middle and save the prettier one for the top).

layer 3, the top

9. Nestle the remaining cake round into the frosting. cover the top of the cake with the strawberry frosting. Give it volume and swirls, or opt for a perfectly flat top. Garnish the frosting with the remaining milk crumbs and fresh strawberries.

10. Transfer the sheet pan to the freezer and freeze for a minimum of 12 hours to set the cake and filling. the cake will keep in the freezer for up to 2 weeks. I put mine in the fridge for about 5 and it turned out fine.

11. At least 3 hours before you are ready to serve the cake, pull the sheet pan out of the freezer and, using your fingers and thumbs, pop the cake out of the cake ring. Gently peel off the acetate, and transfer the cake to a platter or cake stand. Let it defrost in the fridge for a minimum of 3 hours (wrapped well in plastic, the cake can be refrigerated for up to 5 days).

 

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