Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Anniversary Cake Project: Lemon Cake

This summer my parents celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary!  FIFTY YEARS.  Over the past year, my sister and I have repetitively asked them what they would like to do to celebrate.  "Oh, nothing big" was the answer we kept getting.  They wanted to have a family vacation but not do it at the same time as the anniversary because that time would be too hot.  True, their anniversary is in August and there seems to be few places that time of year that aren't ungodly hot.  So what should we do to celebrate the actual day, if we do a family vacation?  "Oh, nothing" was the response we got.  Nothing?  Really?  Fifty years of marriage is a big deal!  "Would you like to have a reception at your church?  Cake and punch?".  "No, no bother."  Ugh.  After getting the same response again and again, my sister and I gave up.

Only half of the necessary butter!

Then, my in-laws planned their 50 year anniversary celebration.  Yes, both my parents and my husband's parents are celebrating their 50th anniversaries this year!  Isn't that crazy?  Anyway, I called my parents and told them that my in-laws planned their celebration for the first weekend in August.  "Oh", my parents said, "I guess that means you aren't coming here to celebrate our anniversary?"  WHAT??  Now they decided they would like a reception at church, with cake and punch.  That same reception idea that my sister and I have been asking them about for the past year, to which they have repetitively said "NO".  Ack!  Parents!  "It doesn't have to be a big deal", they said.  "We can order a cake from somewhere and have some punch".  Order a cake?  I had to think about this one.  Am I okay with ordering a cake?  In general, NO!  Especially not for an event like this!  I love to bake, for goodness sake!  However, I would be traveling for the week and a half leading up to their celebration, which is of course not in the city in which I live.  I thought about it and still came up with the same answer.  I just could not have a store-bought cake at my parent's wedding anniversary celebration.  Don't get me wrong.  I am not a total bakery snob.  I just could not allow a bakery cake to grace the table at this particular event.  If I could have figured out a way to make the cake for my in-law's celebration, I would have done theirs, too!

Creaming butter and sugar

Since I am never one to do things the easy way, I did not even contemplate making a sheet cake.  I decided they needed a tiered cake, wedding style.  No, I have never made a wedding cake before, but surely it is something I can handle, right?

Adding in the dry ingredients...

I have done a lot of research and contacted a friend who has made several wedding cakes and ran my plan by him, so I think I am ready.  I made a plan and packed an extra bag for travel containing my cake pans, icing tips, recipes, cake board and any other random cake design item I could imagine!

The batter is ready!
The reception is open to anyone at the church, so we have really no idea how many people to expect.  Tricky!  I decided to make a small tiered cake and have another layer cake on the side for overflow if needed.
My layers will be:
(1) an 8 inch square
(2) a 6 inch round
(3) a 4 inch round
 The extra cake is a 9 inch round.
The tiered cake sizes!

I decided on a lemon cake recipe I have never made before but my friend referred to above highly recommended.  I will be making lemon cake, with lemon curd filling and a lemon butter cream frosting.

Bake, my little cakes!  Look at how much they rose!  Mmmm...
Once I arrived at my parent's house, I started baking the cakes.  I made 4 batches of the lemon cake recipe, which involved 4 pounds of butter, 2 dozen eggs and lots of lemon extract and lemon zest!  Zowie!  I had some extra batter left over from the last batch and made some cupcakes to try.  They are light and fluffy with a nice lemon zip!  Perfect!

Lemon Cake
adapted from Wilton
2 cups granulated sugar
2 cups (4 sticks/1 lb.) unsalted butter at room temperature, 68F or higher)
6 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 Tablespoon + 1 teaspoon lemon extract
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons lemon zest

Preheat oven to 350F.  Butter pan, apply parchment paper, and butter parchment paper.

Cream sugar and butter in a mixer bowl until light and fluffy.  Add eggs, vanilla and lemon extract, and mix until smooth.  Add flour, baking powder, and baking soda, and mix for 30 seconds.  Add lemon zest and mix for 1 more minute.  Pour batter into prepared pan/s.  Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.

Wilton has a chart of baking times and batter amounts for different sized pans, and I based my times off of this chart.  My 9-inch round pans used 5 1/2 cups of batter and baked for 45 minutes.  The 8-inch square pans used 4 1/2 cups of batter and baked for 30 minutes, however they could have used a little more batter in my opinion.  The 6-inch round pan used 2 1/2 cups of batter and baked for 30 minutes, and the 4-inch round pans used 1 cup of batter and baked for 25 minutes. 

Allow the cake to cool for 10 minutes on a cooling rack.  Then remove the cake from the pan and allow to cool completely before serving.

This recipe makes about 7 cups of batter.
Printable Recipe

I wrapped each cake layer in 2-3 layers of plastic wrap and put them in the freezer.  They will keep fine in the refrigerator and a frozen cake is easier to frost!

Step one is complete!  The next step will be making the lemon curd filling!

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