WOODY'S LEMON LUXURY LAYER CAKE
Serves 14 to 16.
Note: This recipe must be prepared in advance. For the buttercream, Rose Levy Beranbaum prefers Green & Black's white chocolate; if using another high-quality white chocolate that doesn't contain vanilla seeds, add 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and the seeds of a vanilla bean to white chocolate mixture. From "Rose's Heavenly Cakes" by Rose Levy Berenbaum.
• Shortening and parchment paper for pans
• Baking spray with flour
• 6 oz. white chocolate containing cocoa butter, chopped
• 1/4 c. plus 3 tbsp. egg yolks (about 6 large yolks), at room temperature
• 1 c. milk, divided
• 11/2 tsp. vanilla extract
• 3 c. (101/2 oz.) cake flour, sifted into the cup and leveled off
• 1 c. plus 3 tbsp. (81/2 oz.) superfine sugar
• 41/4 tsp. baking powder
• 3/4 tsp. salt
• 1 tsp. freshly grated lemon zest
• 9 tbsp. (1 stick plus 1 tbsp.) unsalted butter, at room temperature
To prepare cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees and adjust oven rack to lower third of oven. Coat bottoms of 2 (9- by 2-inch) round cake pans with shortening, top with parchment rounds and coat bottom and sides with baking spray with flour and reserve.
In a microwave oven (or a double boiler over hot but not simmering water), heat white chocolate until almost completely melted. Remove from heat and, with a silicon spatula, stir until fully melted. Allow to cool until no longer warm to the touch but still fluid.
In a medium bowl, whisk together yolks, 1/3 cup of milk and vanilla extract and reserve.
In a bowl of a mixer on low speed, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and lemon zest for 30 seconds. Add butter and remaining 2/3 cup milk and mix until dry ingredients are moistened. Increase speed to medium and beat 90 seconds. Scrape down sides of bowl.
Reduce speed to medium-low and gradually add egg mixture to batter in three parts, beating for 20 seconds after each addition. Scrape down sides of bowl. Add melted white chocolate and mix until fully incorporated. Scrape batter into prepared pans, filling them until almost half full.
Bake until golden brown, 25 to 35 minutes (a wire cake tester inserted in center should come out clean, and tops of cakes should spring back lightly when pressed in centers). Cakes should start to shrink from sides of pans only after removed from oven.
Remove from oven and transfer pans to a wire rack for 10 minutes. Lightly coat wire racks with nonstick cooking spray. Run a small metal spatula between sides of pans and cakes, pressing firmly against pans, and invert cakes onto prepared wire racks; reinvert cakes so that their top-side is up. Cool completely.
To compose cake: Cut each layer in half horizontally. Spread 1/2 cup lemon curd (see recipe) on bottom layer of each of the two sets of layers, spreading almost to the edge (and reserving remaining lemon curd for garnish). Set upper layers on top of each bottom layer.
Spread a little buttercream (see recipe) on a serving plate and place one of the layers on top (and slide a few wide strips of wax paper or parchment paper under cake to keep cake rim clean). Spread top with about 3/4 cup buttercream. Set second set of layers on top of first. Frost top and sides with remaining buttercream. With a small metal spatula, make attractive swirls in frosting.
Refrigerate cake for about 1 hour to set buttercream. Slowly slide wax paper or parchment paper strips out from under cake and serve at room temperature.
Makes enough for 1 cake.
• 3 tsp. freshly grated lemon zest
• 1/2 c. egg yolks (about 7 large yolks), at room temperature
• 1 c. plus 2 tbsp. (8 oz.) sugar
• 6 tbsp. (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
• 1/2 c. plus 1 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
• Pinch salt
Place lemon zest in a medium bowl and place a fine-mesh strainer over bowl.
In a saucepan over medium-low heat, whisk yolks, sugar and butter until well-blended. Whisk in lemon juice and salt, stirring constantly with a silicon spatula (and scraping sides of pan) until mixture thickly coats spatula but is still liquid enough to pour; do not allow mixture to come to a boil or it will curdle. (Whenever steam appears, remove pan briefly from heat, stirring constantly, to prevent mixture from boiling.)
When curd is thick enough that it will pool quickly when a little is dropped on a surface, pour it through prepared strainer. Stir gently to mix zest into curd and allow to cool for 30 minutes.
Divide curd into 2 containers: 6 tablespoons for buttercream, the remainder for filling and topping. Cover tightly and refrigerate for up to 3 weeks.
WHITE CHOCOLATE-LEMON BUTTERCREAM
Makes enough for 1 cake.
• 10.5 oz. (3- 3.5 oz. bars) white chocolate containing cocoa butter and vanilla seeds
• 201/2 tbsp. (2 sticks plus 41/2 tbsp.) unsalted butter, at room temperature, divided
• 4 eggs, at room temperature
In a double boiler over barely simmering water, melt white chocolate and 101/2 tablespoons butter, stirring often until smooth and creamy.
In a medium bowl, whisk eggs slightly to break them up, then whisk eggs into white chocolate mixture. Continue whisking until mixture thickens slightly and an instant-read thermometer registers 140 degrees.
Remove from heat, transfer custard to a bowl, cover and refrigerate for about 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes until cool to the touch and an instant-read thermometer reads 65 to 70 degrees.
In a bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a wire whisk on medium-low speed, beat remaining 10 tablespoons butter until creamy, about 30 seconds. Gradually add 21/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons white chocolate custard into butter, scraping sides of bowl as needed, until stiff peaks form when beater is raised.
Cover and set aside until mixture is slightly thickened and spongy, about 11/2 to 2 hours (it should be no warmer than 70 degrees; if necessary, chill mixture in an ice water bath for a few minutes, stirring constantly). Beat on medium-high speed until smooth, light and creamy, about 30 seconds. Add 6 tablespoons lemon curd (see recipe) and beat until just incorporated.
BABY CHOCOLATE OBLIVIONS
Note: "There is something special about having a whole little cake that you love all to yourself," writes author Rose Levy Beranbaum in "Rose's Heavenly Cakes." She prefers to use Valrhona Le Noir Gastronomie (61 percent cacao) or Scharffen Berger (62 percent cacao) chocolate.
• 1 lb. dark chocolate (60 to 62 percent cacao), chopped
• 1 c. (2 sticks) unsalted butter
• 3 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. sugar
• 1 c. plus 3 tbsp. eggs (about 4 large eggs)
• Fresh raspberries and freshly whipped cream for garnish, optional
Place a 12-cup silicon muffin pan (or prepare a 12-cup muffin pan with baking spray) on a wire rack and set inside a roasting pan large enough to serve as a water bath. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
In a large heatproof bowl over a pan of hot but not simmering water, combine chocolate, butter and sugar and allow them to stand, stirring occasionally, until smooth and melted. Transfer mixture to a large bowl and reserve.
In bowl of a stand mixer, lightly whisk eggs. Set bowl over a pan of gently simmering water (do not allow bowl to touch water) and heat until just warm to the touch, whisking constantly to prevent curdling.
Immediately transfer bowl to stand mixer fitted with whisk beater. Beat eggs on high speed until eggs triple in volume and are billowy and almost ready to form soft peaks when beater is raised (about 5 minutes).
Using a silicone spatula, fold half of eggs into chocolate mixture until evenly incorporated. Fold in remaining eggs, scraping from bottom to ensure that all heavier chocolate mixture gets incorporated and until almost no streaks remain.
Spoon mixture into muffin cups, filling each almost to the top. Pour very hot water into roasting pan so that it reaches about halfway up muffin pan. Bake for 5 minutes.
Invert a 9- by 13-inch baking pan over top of muffin pan so that it rests on outer edges of pan. Continue baking for another 10 minutes. Cakes will appear set but will slightly wobble if pan is moved (an instant-read thermometer will register 150 degrees).
Remove roasting pan from oven. Using a poultry baster, siphon off water and lift out wire rack. Let cakes cool, still in muffin cups, for 45 minutes or until barely warm. Set cakes, still in cups, in refrigerator and place an inverted wire rack on top of them. Refrigerate until very firm, at least 4 hours or overnight.
When ready to serve, set a piece of parchment or wax paper on top of cakes in muffin pan and set an inverted wire rack on top. Invert muffin pan onto lined rack. (Cakes should slip out easily; if not, push bottom of silicon mold lightly with your thumb.)
Use an offset spatula to lift each cake from lined rack and transfer to serving plates. Serve with fresh raspberries and whipped cream, optional. Cakes will keep for 1 week in an airtight container in the refrigerator.