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Your First Layer Cake

Julia Bainbridge

All week we’ve shared the 101 versions of recipes for foods you thought were too hard to make but TOTALLY AREN’T. So far, we’ve encouraged you to make your first loaf of breadyour first big roastsushi, and jam Today, tackle cake. Layer cake. 

Your First Layer Cake

Food and styling by Paul Lowe; photo by Hector Sanchez

"If you want a perfect cake, you can go to the bakery and buy it. If you want something that looks like a person has made it, you do it yourself.” So says Paul Lowe of quarterly magazine Sweet Paul. And we’re eating it up. 

"My grandmother would always say, ‘Ugh. Perfection is boring.’ And that’s stayed with me. I want my food to look like it was made by a person."

So if your execution of this cake is a slightly lopsided one, it’s okay; think like Lowe and call it a hallmark of the homemade. This is encouraging for those of us who have not yet attempted The Layer Cake at home. Sure, we’ve all made a sheet cake, but assembling a tower of spongy, sugary dough is a big step up. Yet! The recipe is devoid of icing, thus eliminating the anxiety that comes with trying to achieve a perfectly slicked exterior.

The tricky part might be the lemon curd: you must use a double boiler, and you must stir. Vigorously. Once made, though, it can be dolloped on cookies or provide a bed for seasonal berries. Think of it as a sweet condiment

Onward!

Lemon Cream and Berry Cake
Use whatever berries you like.
Serves 10

6 eggs
3/4 cups sugar
5 tablespoons butter, melted
1 1/4 cups plain flour, sifted
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3 large eggs
3 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup lemon juice
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
6 tablespoons salted butter, softened
2 cups blueberries

Preheat oven to 350ºF.

Beat eggs and sugar until light and creamy. Add the butter and stir well. Add flour and baking powder and beat until the batter comes together. Pour into two greased 9-inch cake pans.

Bake for about 25 minutes or until they are set and golden. Cool on a wire rack.

Place eggs, yolks, sugar, lemon juice and zest in a metal bowl. Stir well and place on top of a double boiler. Whisk until the curd starts to thicken, takes about 6-7 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the butter. Cool.

Place one layer on a stand and spread with half of the lemon curd Add half the blueberries on top, add another layer of cake. Spread with the rest of the curd and add the rest of the berries.

Leave the cake in the fridge for at least one hour before serving.