Kathleen's StoryWe love eating lemon creme cake at our favorite Italian restaurants although each restaurant's version is very different. I began working on my own version a year ago, and the family thinks that I can finally stop tweaking thanks to an adaptation of Karla Everett's Lemon Curd recipe. See Karla's wonderful original recipe here:
I am not claiming it as a copy cat of any particular restaurant's because I took what I liked most from the various restaurants and combined it into this wonderful version. When we were eating this at our favorite restaurants, I would always say the next day, "I wish I had another piece of that cake." Now, I can have another piece. Its extremely intense lemon flavor makes it a perfect summer dessert!! If you love lemon, you really should try it! Don't let the many steps discourage you. It's really not a difficult cake. This is one reason I am using a simple cake mix, and the cake and the curd and even the mousse can be made ahead.
LEMON CURD (MAKE AHEAD) (ADAPTED FROM KARLA EVERETT'S LEMON CURD RECIPE)
egg yolks, reserve whites of three
1 1/2 c
fresh lemon juice (from 7-8 zested lemons, egg-sized)
lemon zest, finely grated from the 7-8 lemons used for the juice
CAKE (IT'S EASIER IF MADE AHEAD)
10-inch springform pan
duncan hines moist deluxe white cake mix
3 oz. box of lemon pudding and pie filling, not instant
egg whites, reserved from some of the 8 yolks used in the curd (room temperature)
1 1/3 c
LEMON MASCARPONE MOUSSE (CAN BE MADE SEVERAL HOURS AHEAD)
mascarpone cream, room temperature
recipe lemon curd (made ahead and cooled)
LIMONCELLO SOAKING LIQUID
zest of two lemons, egg sized
white granulated sugar
limoncello, lemon flavored liqueur
optional: white chocolate bar for grating
mint and lemon slices or
raspberries and raspberry sauce
NOTE: THIS CAN BE MADE ALCOHOL FREE BY OMITTING THE LIMONCELLO IN THE MOUSSE AND BY INCREASING THE SUGAR IN THE SOAKING LIQUID AND USING LEMON JUICE INSTEAD OF LIMONCELLO
1LEMON CURD: (Make Ahead) Roll room temperature lemons to loosen the juice inside. Then zest 7-8 lemons using a fine grater. Cut lemons and use strainer to strain seeds from juice as you squeeze into bowl.
In top of a double boiler, mix egg yolks and sugar, the 2/3 cup FRESHLY SQUEEZED lemon juice, and the lemon zest from all of the lemons.
Bring the double boiler to simmer and keep it there. SIMMER and WHISK constantly. Both the temperature and the whisking are necessary to prevent curdling. Simmer and whisk 10 minutes in this fashion until it becomes a thick pudding-like consistency.
2Remove from heat and whisk in lemon extract and butter until butter dissolves completely. For absolutely smooth lemon curd, you may strain the curd to remove zest. I leave it in because I like the slight chewiness one gets from the zest.
Pour into bowl and cover with plastic wrap touching the curd to prevent a skin from forming. Place bowl in refrigerator to cool completely. This will be used to make the mascarpone mousse. (My curd makes around 2 cups, and whatever the recipe makes, I use it ALL in the mousse.)
3CAKE: (You may also bake the cake a day ahead.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut parchment paper to fit bottom of 10-inch springform pan. Spray cooking spray onto pan. Place parchment paper in bottom, and then spray paper too. Dust slightly with some dry cake mix.
4Mix pudding mix and cake mix, and then add 3 egg whites, 2 tablespoons of oil, and 1 1/3 cup of water until cake mix is moist. Mix 2 minutes (according to package directions).
Pour into springform pan. Place this into a larger roasting pan in case of leaking and then place into the oven for 30-40 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. After removing springform sides, place cake in freezer for cooling. If baking the night before, I place it into the refrigerator, and then place it into the freezer for about 2 hours the morning before I assemble the cake.
5LEMON MASCARPONE MOUSSE: (May also be made several hours hours before assembling to help the mousse set up before assembling.) Whip mascarpone until smooth. CONTINUE TO BEAT WHILE ADDING sugar and lemon extract. Check to see that sugar is dissolved. Then continue to beat while adding lemon curd. (If you stop beating while adding these ingredients, the acid of the lemon could curdle the mascarpone.) Add limoncello while beating. When it's smooth, chill in refrigerator. (I do not remove all of the zest caught in the beaters or wire whip. There will still be some in the mousse.)
6LIMONCELLO SOAKING LIQUID: Combine water, sugar, and lemon zest in saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring consistently until sugar is completely dissolved.
Bring the heat up to medium-high and bring the syrup to a boil.
Remove the pan from heat and let sit for 2 minutes. Strain the liquid to remove lemon zest.
Stir in the limoncello and the lemon extract and keep the syrup covered until ready to assemble the cake.
7TO ASSEMBLE THE CAKE: Remove cooled cake from freezer. Using a bread knife, carefully split layer into two layers, cutting all of the way through. Remove top layer, carefully, to wax paper with cut side up. Carefully, loosen bottom of springform pan from bottom layer by sliding knife or spatula between parchment paper and pan bottom. Then slide cake onto cake plate with cut side up. (My cake in the picture is a little too brown.)
8Using a pastry brush or a spoon, put limoncello soaking liquid on each layer. (This is why I use the springform pan and cut the layers instead of using two or three round cake pans. The cut layers really allow the liquid to absorb into the cake.)
9Using half of the mascarpone mousse on the layer of cake on the cake plate, smooth it out, and then place into freezer until well set. If you rush this, the mousse will squeeze out when the other layer is placed upon it. Return other layer to freezer also.
10Carefully, place top layer onto the frosted bottom layer and spread mousse along the top of the cake. I do not always frost the sides though there is enough mousse to do so. Grate white chocolate on top of the marscapone mousse. Chill cake for several hours. It takes awhile for the mousse to firm up, and it's even better the day after it's assembled.
11GARNISHES: When slicing, you may garnish with fresh mint and a lemon slice, or it looks really great garnished with a raspberry and some raspberry sauce.
(The photos for steps 10 and 11 are not representative of what icing/filling really looks like. I rushed it a bit, and didn't chill it long enough. The cut piece with raspberries and sauce is what the icing is really like.)