Monday, March 8, 2010 at 12 p.m.
There's something daring, slightly rebellious about making a cake at night. For one, if you mess up there's no running to the store to get more ingredients. Oh, I mean, you could, it's possible, but who wants to -- so there's that.
Then, there's the alchemy of baking itself. Of beginning with some basic ingredients and a recipe and ending up with a cake -- the promise that if you follow the directions you can make something more than the sum of its parts. Because waking up in the morning with a White Layer Cake with Lemon Curd Filling
, sitting on a cake plate to greet you is, as Martha would say, a "good thing."
Martha would never bake a cake at night, would she?
To make the cake, beat butter and sugar together, then add vanilla. Next add a mixture of flour, baking soda, and salt in three parts, alternating with milk. Beat until combined.
With an electric mixer, whisk 8 large egg whites until foamy, adding a ¼ cup of sugar, and continuing to beat until stiff peaks form. Fold egg whites into the butter-flour mixture, and divide batter evenly into two prepared 9-inch cake pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes.
With a layer cake there are some high-risk moments. The first - will the cake stick to the pan or come out clean?
Once the cake cools spread a cup of lemon curd across the top of the cake's first layer. Next comes the second high-risk moment -- being able to stack one layer on top of the other without breaking it.
Time to ice the whole thing with Seven-Minute Frosting
- a deliciously gooey frosting made of sugar, light corn syrup, egg whites, and vanilla.
One tip, this sticky icing never hardens to the point of not adhering to everything it touches (like plastic wrap or foil), so a cake dome comes in handy for storing.
As for the taste -- it was like pound cake with a fluffy icing. The icing was light while the cake was dense and rich. It is the kind of cake that begs for a cup of coffee or tea to accompany it. And the best part about baking at night? There's nothing like cake for breakfast.