Lemon Olive Oil Honey Cake

Sometimes I like to make pretty cakes...for no reason at all. Then, I like to take pictures of them. Fortunately this very cake is new to me. Rather than heavy buttercreams and dense cakey-ness (randmon suffixes on words are awesome) it's a cloud of moist egg-white softened cake sandwiched in honey-sweetened fluffs and sour lemon curd.

I'm thinking most home bakers start off with the butter-powdered sugar-vanilla type frostings like I did. They move on from there to variations, swiss meringue buttercreams, and such...but most people never learn about the life-changing-ness of cooked-milk (as I've decided to name it) frosting. Or even 7-minute frosting which I'll post on later. I get bored with only eating standard buttercream or flavored whipped cream on cake after cake. Changing it up with something - anything - is even better than making a variation on swiss meringue buttercream.

Bottom line: this cake probably needs a little tweaking on my part (I underbaked the cake, added too much flour to the lemon curd, and didn't cook the flour out of the frosting enough - don't worry, the recipe reflects these changes), but it was so pretty I had to share it. Also, there's always more to learn in the kitchen. No matter what, someone else is thinking up something new when you've mastered everything else (which you haven't).

Lemon and Olive Oil Sponge Cake with Fluffy Honey Frosting

For the lemon-olive oil sponge cake:
2 tbl unsalted butter, melted, for brushing pan
5 large eggs, separated
3/4 cup sugar, divided
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 tbl juice from lemons
1 tbl zest from lemons
1 cup cake flour
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 325 degrees and position a rack in the middle of the oven.

Invert the bottom of an 8" spring form pan (so that the bumpy side is facing down) and lock the side. Brush the pan with melted butter and chill for 2 minutes to set. Line the bottom of the pan with a round of parchment paper and brush the parchment with another layer of melted butter, chill 2 minutes more. Dust with flour, knocking out excess.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment beat together the egg yolks and 1/2 cup sugar until pale and thick, about 3 minutes. At medium speed, beat in the oil, lemon juice, and zest until just combined. Sift in the flour and mix at low speed until just combined.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment add the egg whites, remaining 1/4 cup sugar, and salt. Turn the mixer to low and beat until foamy. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat just until the whites hold soft peaks. Gently fold one third of the whites into yolk mixture to lighten, then fold in the remaining whites gently but thoroughly. Transfer the batter to the prepared spring form pan, smoothing top, and gently rapping against the counter once or twice to eliminate any air bubbles.

Bake until golden brown (top will crack slightly) and a wooden pick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Cool in pan on a rack 10 minutes, then remove side of pan and cool cake to room temperature, about 1 hour (sides will cave in a little).

Slice the cake horizontally into 3 equal pieces. Spread half of the lemon curd over the top of the bottom layer. Spread the underside of the middle layer with honey frosting and place on the bottom layer. Repeat process with top layer. Frost the entire cake with honey frosting and garnish with lemon slices if desired. 

For the sticky sour lemon curd filling:
1/4 cup sugar
2 tbl honey
2 tbl all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup juice from lemons
1 tsp zest from lemons
1 large egg yolk
1 tbl unsalted butter

Whisk together the sugar, honey, flour, and salt in a small heavy saucepan. Add the lemon juice in a slow stream, whisking until combined. Bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Reduce the heat and whisk until thickened, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat.

Whisk yolk in a small bowl to break up. Carefully add about one fourth of the lemon-juice mixture, whisking vigorously to temper. Pour this back into the pan with the lemon-juice mixture and bring to a gentle boil, whisking constantly for about 1 minute. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter and zest. Transfer the curd to a bowl and cover the surface with plastic wrap. Chill until cool, at least 30 minutes before using to fill the sponge cake.

For the honey cooked-milk frosting:
1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup milk
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup honey

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment beat the butter until light and fluffy, about 30 seconds. Add the sugar and continue beating for another 5 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. 

In a separate pan whisk together the flour with 1/4 cup of the milk until no lumps remain. Turn the heat to medium and whisk until the mixture begins to bubble lightly. Slowly stream in the remaining 3/4 cup of milk, whisking constantly until the mixture begins to thicken. Add the honey and whisk to combine. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature. 

Add the milk-honey-flour mixture to the stand mixer. Beat on high speed until very light and fluffy, about 7 minutes. Stop the mixer to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. 

Source: Cake and curd recipes adapted from Gourmet magazine March 2008 via Epicurious. Frosting recipe SarahCupcake original, technique inspired by Joy the Baker.

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