Saturday, August 13, 2011

Pierre Hermé Ligurian Lemon Cake

Ligurian Lemon Cake with Meringue Frosting: photo taken by Juns 
It's refreshing when you find you have far more in common with an old friend than you realize. On National Day, Juns came over with her Pierre Hermé dessert recipe book and we spent the afternoon baking his Ligurian Lemon Cake, interspersed with food photographing after every potentially picturesque step. Pierre Hermé uses 2/3 cup of mild Ligurian olive oil for the batter, hence the name. But, as we are not professional bakers with access to any exotic-sounding ingredients outside of Cold Storage, extra-virgin olive oil was used instead and it worked perfectly. 


fresh out of the oven and flipped onto a plate
The secret behind resisting the food model? Bake another, behind-the-scenes cake with the left over batter and dig into that one instead when both come fresh out of the oven. 
Haphazardly spreading meringue over the cake
Now comes the fun part - we used a blow torch to brown the meringue (another quirk that I love about these whipped egg whites we call meringue)

With the left over batter, we made tiny cupcakes: 
To be baked for 6 minutes at 165°C

Pierre Hermé Ligurian Lemon Cake
- 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- 1 cup sugar
- Zest of 2 lemons, very finely chopped
- 4 large eggs, room temperature
- 3 tablespoons whole milk, room temperature
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and still warm
- 2/3 cup mild extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 pint fresh raspberries

- Center a rack in the oven and preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 10-inch round cake or springform pan, dust with flour, and tap out any excess.
- Sift flour and baking powder and reserve.
- Place sugar and lemon zest in the bowl of a mixer and rub the ingredients together between your fingers until the sugar is moist, grainy, and very aromatic. Fit the bowl into the mixer with the whisk attachment in place, add the eggs and beat on medium-high speed until the mixture is pale and thick, about 3 minutes.
- Set the mixer on its lowest speed and beat in the milk. Add the sifted dry ingredients, beating only until they are incorporated, and then add the lemon juice, warm melted butter, and olive oil, again beating only until blended.
- Pour about one third of the batter into the prepared pan - it should be just enough batter to form a thin, even layer. Top with enough raspberries to cover the batter, then pour on the rest of the batter, using a rubber spatula to gently spread batter so that it runs down between the berries and just covers them. You’ll have a very thin layer of batter, and that’s the way it’s supposed to be.
- Bake the cake for 30 to 33 minutes (mine needed 40 minutes), or until it is golden and pulls away from the sides of the pan; a cake tester inserted into the center should come out clean. Remove the cake from the oven and immediately unmold it onto a cooling rack; invert so that cake is right side up and allow it cool to room temperature. Once cooled the cake is ready to serve or to decorate.

P.S. Juns is not to be confused with Jun, a friend I met in London and mentioned in my Ginger and White post

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