Unlike my Little Button Counterpart, Laura, I am not a natural baker. I try, I do…. I just seem to get a bit lost on the way and usually end up with unmitigated disasters that go in the bin. This cake started off like that. I messed up on several hurdles. And yet it still tasted really yummy! So, for anyone out there who is like me I recommend making this cake. Evidently, its fool proof.
The recipe is adapted from The Great British Bake Off: How to Bake Book, the full version of which is at the bottom of this post. Its not the quickest of cakes, it took me a couple of hours, but it does look impressive and it tasted lovely and fluffy. This is due to the inclusion of 6 eggs, which get whisked to oblivion at the beginning and then delicately mixed with the flour. This is where I messed up (part 1) as I thought I’d folded the flour in very carefully, only to find what looked like play doh at the bottom of the bowl when I went to pour it into my cake tins! Which meant I had to pour it back in, remix it and watch my lovely fluffy mixture flop down to half its size. Gahhhhh!
I then realised I only had half the required ricotta, and also that I’d poured in all of my lemon curd in one go rather than only 1/3 of it. Do you see how I’m not a natural?!
Anyway, despite all of these things and my anticipation of a cake disaster, it tasted very yummy. Honestly it did! I recommend you make it too (and just IMAGINE how it will taste if you don’t mess up at every hurdle!)
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For the sponge:
6 large free range eggs at room temperature
175g caster sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
175g plain flour
For the Lemon Syrup:
100g caster sugar
2 large unwaxed lemons
For the Filling:
250ml double cream, well chilled
2tbsps caster sugar
500g lemon curd (bought is fine)
50g flaked almonds
2 tbsps lemon curd
2 x 20.5cm sandwich tins, greased and base lined with baking paper
Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4
To make the sponge, break the eggs into a large mixing bowl and whisk using an electric mixer until frothy. Whisk in the sugar on high-speed for about 5 minutes or until very thick and pale in colour and the whisk leaves a ribbon- like trail. The mixture will massively increase in volume. Sift one-third of the flour onto the mixture and fold in carefully with a large metal spoon. Repeat to add the remaining flour in two batches, folding until there are no visible streaks of flour (careful now… watch out for it forming play doh at the bottom!).
Divide the mixture between the prepared tins and spread evenly. Bake for about 20 minutes or until well risen to the top of the tins, a good golden brown and firm to the touch. Remove from the oven and run a round bladed knife around the inside of the tins to loosen the sponges. Cover a wire cooling rack with a sheet of baking paper sprinkled with a little caster sugar. Turn the sponges out carefully onto the paper and leave to cool completely.
Meanwhile, make the lemon syrup. Put the sugar and 100ml water into a small pan. Grate the zest from 1 lemon and add to the pan. Carefully peel the zest from the second lemon and cut into fine shreds. Set the shreds aside in a covered bowl for decoration. Halve the lemons and squeeze the juice. Add three tablespoons of juice to the pan. Heat gently, stirring frequently, until the sugar has dissolved, then bring to the boil and simmer for two minutes to make a light syrup. Leave to cool.
To make the lemon cream filling, whip the cream until thick. Add the sugar and whip until soft peaks form. Mix one-third of the lemon curd with the ricotta. When thoroughly combined, fold this into the whipped cream to make a very smooth, thick mixture. Cover and chill for at least 30 minutes but no more than an hour.
To assemble the cake, slice each sponge carefully in half horizontally to make 4 thin layers. Set one layer, cut surface up, on a serving plate. Brush or spoon one-quarter of the lemon syrup over the sponge and leave to soak in for a couple of minutes.Transfer just under half the lemon cream filling mixture to another bowl (this will be used to cover the cake); cover and chill. Using a palette knife, spread one-third of the remaining lemon cream over the soaked sponge.Carefully spread one-third of the remaining lemon curd on top of this. Set a second layer of sponge on top, again cut side up. Repeat with the lemon syrup, lemon cream and lemon curd. Add the third sponge layer with filling as before, then top with the final layer of sponge, this time cut side down. Brush the top of the cake with the last of the lemon syrup. Cover and chill for 30 minutes. Cover the top and sides of the cake with the reserved lemon cream. Press flaked almonds around the side. Decorate the top with dashes of lemon curd and the reserved lemon shreds, or fill a small piping bag with the lemon curd and pipe swirls or a lattice or ‘Happy Birthday’. (No way was I attempting that given my track record!).
Chill overnight in an airtight container. Remove from the fridge 30 minutes before serving.