Sunday, November 6, 2011

Lemon Berry Cake filled with Mascarpone filling

This week's big project is an effort to duplicate a cake I had for dessert during lunch on Friday. I normally don't order dessert, but it looked so good I couldn't resist. It is a lemon butter cake topped with blueberries and cranberries and filled with a mascarpone cream filling.

Lemon Butter Cake

1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
2 tsp lemon zest
1 1/2 tsp lemon extract
Juice of one lemon
7 egg whites
3 cups cake flour (if using AP flour, replace 6 tbsp of flour with corn starch)
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 cup milk
1 cup blueberries
1 cup cranberries


2 cups mascarpone cheese
2 tbsp sugar
3/4 cup heavy cream

Prepare the cake:

Preheat oven to 350ºF, butter the bottom of two 9 inch cake pans, line the bottoms with parchment paper and butter the paper.

Sift flour, salt and baking powder together in a medium bowl.

Cream the butter and sugar, add lemon zest, extract and juice. Add the egg whites 2 or 3 at a time and continue beating until well blended. 

Add 1/3 of dry ingredients to butter mixture and beat. Add half the milk and beat. Repeat and then finish with remaining 1/3 of dry ingredients.

Divide batter into cake pans and top with berries.

Bake cake for 35 minutes or until wooden toothpick comes out clean.

Cool on racks in pan for 10 minutes, remove cakes from pans and let cool on racks until completely cool.

Prepare the filling:

Mix mascarpone cheese with sugar until well blended, add cream and continue to beat until stiff in a stand mixer with a whisk attachment.

Assemble the cake:

Place cake layer, berry side up, on serving plate. Top with mascarpone filling and spread over layer. Put second layer, berry side up, on top of filling. Dust with powdered sugar.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Margarita Bars

I have been on a curd kick lately. This stems from my quest to make perfect macarons. So, every weekend I separate 7 eggs to get the whites for cookies and then have to find something to do with the yolks. I have made Lemon bars, Cranberry bars and this weekend it was Margarita bars. I took the recipe I had for Lemon bars and used lime juice instead adding some tequila and Grand Marnier. I didn't have a 9x9 pan so used an 8x8 pan instead, the bars came out a bit too thick. They were tasty, but just a bit heavy on the crust.

Margarita Bars (adapted from Baking Illustrated)

Lemon bar crust recipe
1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar, plus more to decorate the finished bars
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter, softened but still cool, cut into 1-inch pieces

Lemon bars filling recipe
7 large egg yolks, plus 2 large eggs
1 cup plus 2
tablespoons granulated sugar

1 tablespoon Tequila
1 tablespoon Grand Marnier
Juice from 7-8 limes, plus 1/4 cup finely grated zest
1/2 stick unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
3 tablespoons heavy cream

1.Spray a 9-inch square baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Fold two 16-inch pieces of foil or parchment paper lengthwise to measure 9 inches wide. Fit 1 sheet in the bottom of the greased pan, pushing it into the corners and up the sides of the pan (overhang will help in removal of baked bars). Fit the second sheet in the pan in the same manner, perpendicular to the first sheet. Spray the sheets with nonstick cooking spray.

2. Place the flour, confectioners' sugar, and salt in a food processor and process briefly. Add the butter and process to blend, 8 to 10 seconds, then process until the mixture is pale yellow and resembles coarse meal, about three 1-second pulses. Sprinkle the mixture into the prepared pan and press firmly with your fingers into an even layer over the entire pan bottom. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

3. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Bake the crust until golden brown, about 20 minutes.


1. In a medium non-reactive bowl, whisk together the yolks and whole eggs until combined, about 5 seconds. Add the granulated sugar and whisk until just combined, about 5 seconds. Add the lime juice, liquor and zest; whisk until combined, about 5 seconds. Transfer the mixture to a medium non-reactive saucepan, add the butter pieces, and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the curd thickens to a thin sauce-like consistency and registers 170°F (76°C) on an instant-read thermometer, about 5 minutes. Immediately pour the curd through a single-mesh stainless steel strainer set over a clean non-reactive bowl. Stir in the heavy cream; pour the curd into the warm crust immediately.

2. Bake until the filling is shiny and opaque and the center 3 inches jiggle slightly when shaken, 10 to 15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack to room temperature, about 45 minutes. Remove the bars from the pan using the foil or parchment handles and transfer to a cutting board. Cut into 2 1/2 inch squares, wiping the knife clean between cuts as necessary. Sieve confectioners' sugar over the bars, if desired.