My name is Winter and my favorite season is spring. I don't know what's wrong with me.
Oh wait, I know. There are no flowers in the winter here. Boo.
But, it's spring now!
AND, the deer haven't eaten a single tulip this year (knock on wood).
Because it's spring and all our tulips are intact, I've got the perfect spring cake for you: the Lemon Basil Layer Cake with Lemon Cream Frosting.
I've mentioned this cake before. Mom K inspired me when she ordered the lemon basil sorbet at the Space Needle during this trip. I love the lemon and basil combo: fresh + fresh = spring.
So on to the cake! You've probably got all the ingredients, right?
I'm sure you made the lemon curd yesterday, and I'm positive you've already started growing your own basil in your window box, so you're golden!
Sift the dry ingredients together.
You're going to be using cake flour. Now cake flour is different than other flours. Cake flour has a lower protein content, making the cake lighter and more tender. If you don't have any, you can make your own here.
(I implore you--please don't think that you can make an exact 1:1 exchange of all-purpose flour for cake flour! If you do, your first attempt at this cake may be dense and dry and everyone eats the frosting and leaves the cake. Yeah, don't let that happen to you. It's totally embarrassing.)
Next, you need to curdle your milk! Lemons and whole milk! Basically, we're making buttermilk.
Cream your butter, add your sugar.
Then add eggs one at a time, beating well after adding.
If you have a minute between beatings, wash a handful of basil leaves. I sandwich and pat them dry between paper towels before chopping so I don't have extra moisture.
Chop chop! You don't want huge pieces, so get choppin'.
Now alternating, add flour mixture, milk mixture, and sour cream in batches, mixing at low speed.
Lastly, gently mix in the lemon zest and basil. (If you are worried about the batter turning totally green, don't you fret! Let's just say I fretted for you the first time I made this.)
All done. The batter is not green--see!
Divide the batter into two 8-inch (greased and floured) round pans and bake.
When they come out, set them out to cool for 5 minutes in the pans. Then ease them out and wrap the layers in a bit of plastic and let them cool completely.
(I promise, the wrap does wonders. Until I discovered this trick, I had made five--FIVE--different cakes that were miserably dry! The plastic wrapped cake is brilliantly moist.)
Then, fold in the rest of the cream.
Assemble the cake! (By the way, don't forget to remove the plastic wrap--that would be awkward and not tasty at all.)
I love this cake--it's simple and fresh.
(And I would highly encourage you to eat the left-over frosting. Go ahead--stick your finger right in the bowl and get every last little bit of it. It is SO delicious!)
People, it's springtime in cake form.
I think you should go and celebrate the flowers and the sunshine and Easter now!
Lemon Basil Layer Cake with Lemon Cream Frosting
For the cake:
2 c sifted cake flour (sift before measuring)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 c whole milk
2 1/2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 c sour cream
1/2 c unsalted butter, softened
1 c granulated sugar
2 large eggs (at room temperature)
2 tbsp lemon zest
1/3 c chopped fresh basil
1 1/4 c heavy whipping cream
1/2 c confectioner's sugar
Lemon curd, chilled (see recipe here)
Cakes: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Coat two 8-inch round cake pans with cooking spray and line the bottoms with rounds of parchment paper. Spray paper with cooking spray and dust pans with flour.
Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Stir together lemon juice and milk (milk will curdle).
Beat butter in bowl of electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add sugar and beat till pale and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Alternating, add flour mixture, milk mixture, and sour cream in batches, mixing at low speed. Begin and end with flour mixture. Add lemon zest and basil and mix on low till incorporated.
Divide batter between pans; smooth tops. Bake for 19 to 22 minutes or until tester comes out clean. Cool in pans on rack for 5 minutes, then invert onto racks and remove parchment paper. Wrap layers in plastic wrap and cool completely.
Frosting: Beat cream and confectioner's sugar until stiff peaks. Fold one third of whipped cream into lemon curd to lighten, then add the remaining cream and fold in gently.
Assembly: Put one layer, rounded side up, on a cake plate and spread 1/4 of the frosting and spread. Top with second layer, rounded side down, and spread frosting on top and sides. Garnish with lemon wedges and basil leaves.