As you probably read, I made my way down South last week. And not down South as in, "I'm going down south [to Southern California]." That may be what we in the Northern part of this state say when we are headed to Disneyland or to watch the Lakers, but I am talking the real down South. Like, Alabama and Tennessee. Country roads, rolling green hills, and some good Southern cookin'. That's the South I am talking about this week.
I must fess up right away. I did not actually make this cake. My good friend Leigh, whom I refer to as my Southern Mama, did. I just merely ate it. And enjoyed every bite. Then I had her daughter help me find plates, a table cloth, and some props and take pictures.
Yes -- I went into someone's house, ate all their food, and then made them help me turn their house into a food-photo studio. What can I say... that's how I roll. (Anyone want to invite me over yet?) Luckily for me, they are always up for anything artistic, so this was a good experience for all of us.
According to Leigh, who is an Alabama native (or a 'bad mama jama from down in Alabama' according to a country song that I like), this cake is also an Alabama native. It doesn't actually have any cheese in, despite what the name suggests. Instead it has lemon filling that frosts each layer and the top, making it super lemony -- perfect for summer time!
Recipe from the Gift of Southern Cooking
The Cake -
- 1 1/4 cup cake flour
- 1 1/2 t. cream of tartar
- 3/4 t. baking soda
- 1/4 t. salt
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temp.
- 8 egg whites
- 1 cup milk
- 2 t. vanilla extract
The Filling -
- 2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup plus 1 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 3 sticks unsalted butter, melted
- 12 egg yolks
- 3 T finely grated lemon zest
- 1/2 t. salt
- Preheat oven to 350F
- Sift flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
- Beat the sugar and butter in large mixing bowl, scraping the bottom and sides once or twice, until light and fluffy. Whisk the egg white until blended but not foamy, then add to the butter in four batches, beating well with each addition. Add the sifted dry ingredients in three parts, alternating with the milk, and mixing only until well blended after each additions before proceeding to the next. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl again, and blend in the vanilla.
- Divide the cake batter between four buttered parchment-lined baking pans. Drop each filled cake pan gently on the kitchen counter to remove any large air pockets. Bake in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes, until the cake layers spring back in the center when lightly tapped, or a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer the pans to cooling racks, and let rest for 5 minutes before turning the cake layers onto the racks to cool completely.
- Make the filling: Put all of the ingredients into a nonreactive saucepan, and whisk well to blend. Set over moderate heat and cook, stirring constantly, until the filling thickens and a candy thermometer registers 170F, about 10 minutes. DO NOT allow the filling to boil or come to a simmer. Transfer the cooked filling to a bowl and cool to room temperature.
- Place one layer on a platter or cake stand and spread with 1/2 cup of the cooled lemon filling. Tip with a second cake layer and 1/2 cup more of the lemon filling. Continue stacking and filling this way, using all of the remaining filling to spread over the top layer and sides of the cake.