Embarrassment and Yellow Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting and Lemon Curd and Blueberries

All my efforts at social suavity tend to fail. 
I'm fine if I don't work at it and if I don't think about it.
But if I do...

Oh Lord Help Me.

What else can you do but laugh? 

Embarrassment is the strangest emotion. You want to die. But you want to laugh as you crawl into the hole you've dug for yourself. 

There are two kinds of awkward people, those who keep their episodes to themselves, and people who tell everyone about said episodes because somehow they believe that this will alleviate the embarrassment. Which it never does. 
Obviously, I'm in the latter category. 

In the past several months, my brain-t0-mouth-filter has been incapacitated. No. That's wrong. 
It's like my brain has been incapacitated. 
To say this is deeply unfortunate would be putting it mildly. 

Awkward Things

1. When you invite yourself along to other people's events,  and then they get annoyed because obviously they didn't invite you for a reason, and then you feel bad because you (wrongly) thought they wouldn't mind.
2. Facebook chat.
3. When you are so surprised by what someone else has said that literally you cannot get words out. I mean, you literally forget how to talk. 
4. Vibrams 
5. Not remembering people's names when they remember yours. 
6. When you accidentally drop the f-bomb as you give a wedding toast, in front of your entire extended family.

The list goes on for a long time but I don't really want to talk about this anymore.

Despite these unfortunate circumstances, I firmly believe that if you offer people cookies they will generally forgive you for all of your lack of social grace. 
Unless of course, you're awkward when you try to force the cookies on them.

Believe me, it's happened. 

More than twice. 

Anyways, the point of this is to say, DO NOT EVEN THINK ABOUT OFFERING PEOPLE CAKE . Because that's even more awkward than offering them cookies. Just, do not even think about it. Cake is messy. Cake has LAYERS. Cake can fall over. Cake has frosting. Just... don't even go there. 
Unless of course, you want to give cake to me, in which case I will be SO forgiving of your awkward flaws, because I like cake more than I like you. 

Or maybe I shouldn't say that.


Yellow Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting and Lemon Curd and Blueberries 

This is really fine. The cake itself is awesome, dense, light, filling, flavorful. If you're really ambitious you can make lemon curd yourself. I have done this before but it takes a lot of time. I simply used lemon curd from a jar. I am such a cheater.

For Cake
from SmittenKitchen.com

Yield: Two 9-inch round, 2-inch tall cake layers, and, in theory, 22 to 24 cupcakes, two 8-inch squares or a 9×13 single-layer cake (I have yet to audition the cupcakes, shame on me)

4 cups plus 2 tablespoons (480 grams) cake flour (not self-rising)
2 teaspoons (10 grams) baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon (5 grams) table salt
2 sticks (1 cup, 1/2 pound or 225 grams) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups (400 grams) sugar
2 teaspoons (10 ml) pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs, at room temperature
2 cups buttermilk (475 ml), well-shaken

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter two 9-inch round cake pans and line with circles of parchment paper, then butter parchment. (Alternately, you can use a cooking spray, either with just butter or butter and flour to speed this process up.)
Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until pale and fluffy, then beat in vanilla. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well and scraping down the bowl after each addition. At low speed, beat in buttermilk until just combined (mixture will look curdled). Add flour mixture in three batches, mixing until each addition is just Incorporated.
Spread batter evenly in cake pan, then rap pan on counter several times to eliminate air bubbles. (I like to drop mine a few times from two inches up, making a great big noisy fuss.) Bake until golden and a wooden pick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool in pan on a rack 10 minutes, then run a knife around edge of pan. Invert onto rack and discard parchment, then cool completely, about 1 hour.

Cream Cheese Frosting
from SmittenKitchen.com

Makes 6 cups
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter room temperature
3 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Place cream cheese and butter in a medium bowl. With a handheld electric mixer, beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add sugar and vanilla. Beat, on low speed to combine. If too soft, chill until slightly stiff, about 10 minutes, before using.

Make or Buy Your Own Lemon Curd


To Assemble Cake
Place first layer of cake on serving plate. Spread on a thick layer of lemon curd. Stack on second layer of cake. Frost the entire outside of cake with cream cheese frosting. You will perhaps have some leftover. Decorate creatively with blueberries. CONSUME. 

Cranberry Yogurt Cake

There are many things that do not last at my house. Socks disappear. I can't find my olive green datebook. We never have clean towels in my bathroom. Never. Car keys vanish. I swear that the library books migrate.

This cake is the next Houdini. I can see the headlines already: Here one day! Gone the next!
Or maybe that just has something to do with the fact that I live with a 15 year old boy. His only state of being is starving.

The point is. This cake doesn't last long. You can make it with blueberries or cranberries (like I did), swirls of jam would be good. Chocolate would be interesting, because chocolate + lemon = heaven. You could add rosemary, for an unexpected touch, or maybe substitute olive oil for the canola if you're really getting adventurous.

And it will disappear, it will disappear. Because it is moist. And gorgeous. And cakey. And good. The good die young. Socks and datebooks vanish to the netherworld. Cakes get eaten by brothers. Nothing lasts. Nothing lasts.

Lemon-Blueberry Yogurt Loaf
from SmittenKitchen.com who adapted it loosely from
Ina Garten

1 1/2 cups + 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour (if you’re skipping the fruit, you can also skip the last tablespoon of flour)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
3 extra-large eggs
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest (approximately 2 lemons)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen, thawed and rinsed (miniature wild blueberries are great for this, and pose the least risk of sinking) OR cranberries, which is more holidayish.
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease an 8 1/2 by 4 1/4 by 2 1/2-inch loaf pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper. Grease and flour the pan.

Sift together 1 1/2 cups flour, baking powder, and salt into 1 bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the yogurt, 1 cup sugar, the eggs, lemon zest, vanilla and oil. Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Mix the blueberries with the remaining tablespoon of flour, and fold them very gently into the batter. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 50 (+) minutes, or until a cake tester placed in the center of the loaf comes out clean.

Meanwhile, cook the 1/3 cup lemon juice and remaining 1 tablespoon sugar in a small pan until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is clear. Set aside.

When the cake is done, allow it to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before flipping out onto a cooling rack. Carefully place on a baking rack over a sheet pan. While the cake is still warm, pour the lemon-sugar mixture over the cake and allow it to soak in (a pastry brush works great for this, as does using a toothpick to make tiny holes that draw the syrup in better). Cool.

Lemon Meringue Pie

So here's what you do: you make a lemon meringue pie.

I've been dreaming about this for several days. Except in my head I kept calling it a "lemon cream pie."

I had a gorgeous time making this pie. I listened to Audra McDonald, who is now on top of my Music God Pyramid and took deep breaths and daydreamed.

It has been a very lovely afternoon.

Make this pie. It will make your afternoon gorgeous too.

Lemon Meringue Pie
from The Gourmet Cookbook

For Filling
4 large egg yolks
1 cup sugar
4 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup water
1/2 cup milk
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

For Meringue
6 large egg whites
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sugar

Make the Pie Shell: Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin into a 13 inch round. Fit into a 9-inch pie plate. Trim edge, leaving a 1/2 inch overhang, and crimp decoratively. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Put rack in middle of oven and preheat oven to 375 F.
Lighly prick shell in several places with a fork. Line shell with foil and fill with pie weights, raw rice, or dried beans. Bake for 10 minutes. Carefully remove foil and weights and bake shell until golden, 12 to 15 minutes more. Transfer to a rack. Reduce oven temperature to 350 F.
Make the Filling: After you remove the foil and weights, whisk together egg yolks in a medium bowl. Whisk together sugar, cornstarch and salt in a 2-quart heavy saucepan. Gradually add water and milk, whisking until cornstarch is dissolbed. Bring to a boil over moderate heat, whisking until mixture begins to thicken. Gradualy whisk about 1 cup milk mixture into yolks, then whisk yolk mixture into milk mixture. Simmer, whisking, for 3 minutes. Remove pan from heat and whisk in butter, zest, and juice until butter is melted and filling is smooth. Cover witha round of wax paper to keep warm.
Make the Meringue: If pie shell has cooled, place it in oven just until warm. Beat egg whites, cream of tartar, and salt in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until whites hold soft peaks. At high speed, beat in sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, and continue to beat until meringue just holds stiff peaks.
Assemble and Bake the Pie: Pour filling into warm shell. Spread meringue on top to very edge of pastry, covering filling completely. Draw meringue up into peaks witha spatula. Bake until meringue is golden, about 15 minutes. Transfer pie to rack to coll to room temperature, about 2 hours, then refrigerate until cold, about 2 hours more. Eat.

Sunny Side Up Lemon Curd Cake

I never got to make my mom a birthday cake this year. I don't know why, but somehow, we were traveling on her special day and then school started and then I got sick and then finally my cake loving cousin came to town, and it was time to make her a cake.

This is a lemon cake. I adapted it from several Dorie Greenspan recipes. So I think I can say with some pride, that this cake is of my own invention. My dad christened it Sunny Side Up Lemon Curd Cake. If the name doesn't make you happy then probably nothing can.

It is extremely delicious. My mom said it was her favorite ever. I'd believe her, except she says that every time.

Dear Mom,

I love you so much. You are my mom. You carried me for 9 months in your womb. So obviously I am grateful. You remind me of irises, royal blue, pure white vases, grecian urns, birkenstocks, gardens, freshly baked bread, and lemon flavored desserts. Especially lemon bars.

You have let me play dress-up in your closet since I was two. You let me clunk around in your heels, and steal your scarves and wear your lipstick and twirl in that beautiful crazy colorful skirt that makes me think I have a career as a flamenco dancer. You let me tear it and play with it, because you knew that I NEEDED to play with that skirt.

You make me feel good when I'm blue and brought me breakfast when I was sick. And insist I take water with me where ever I go so I don't get dehydrated. And you always have to pee whenever we go to the library, just like I do. And you buy me treats and tell me not to worry so much. And you make beautiful things with clay, because you're a potter, which is something I tell everyone I meet with great pride.

"My mom is an Artist." I say.

And you don't know that but I guess you do now.

Anyways, I love you, happy belated birthday.



Sunny Side Up Lemon Curd Cake
Adapted from several recipes in Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan

For the Cake:
2 1/4 cups cake four
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups whole milk or buttermilk
4 large egg whites
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon pure lemon extract

For the Buttercream:

1 cup sugar
4 large egg whites
3 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (from about 2 large lemons)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the Lemon Curd:

1 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces
1 large egg
6 large egg yolks
Freshly squeezed juice of 4 lemons

Getting Ready:

Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Butter two 9x2 inch round cake pans and line the bottom of each pan with a round of buttered parchment or wax paper. But the pans on a baking sheet.

To make the cake:

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.
Whisk together the milk and egg whites in a medium bowl.
Put the sugar and lemon zest in a mixer bowl or another large bowl and rub them togehter with your fingers until the sugar is moist and fragrant. Add the butter and, working with the paddle or whisk attachment, or with a hand mixer, beat at medium speed for a full 3 minutes, until the butter and sugar are very light. Beat in the extract, then add one third of the flour mixture, still beating on medium speed. Beat in half of the milk-egg mixture, then beat in half of the remainging dry ingredients until incorporated. Add the rest of the milk and eggs, beating until the batter is homogeneous, then add the last of the dry ingredients. Finally, give the batter a good 2 minute beating to ensure that it is throughly mixed and well areated. Divide the batter between teh two pans and smooth the tops with a rubber spatula.
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the cakes are well risen and springy to the touch--a thin knife inserted into the centers should come out clean. Transfer the cakes to cooking racks and cool for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the cakes, unmold them and peel off the paper liners. Invert and cool to room temperature right side up. (The cool cake layers can be wrapped airtight and stored at room temperature overnight or frozen for up to 2 months.)

To make the buttercream:

Put the sugar and egg whites in a mixer bowl or other large heatproof bowl, fit the bowl over a pan of simmering water and whisk constantly, keeping the mixture over the heat, until it feels hot to the touch, about 3 minutes. The sugar should be dissolved, and the mixture will loook like shiny marshmallow cream. Remove the bowl from heat.
Working with the whisk attachment or witha hand mixer, beat the meringue on medium speed until it is cool, about 5 minutes. Switch to the paddle attachment if you have one, and add the butter a stick at a time, beating until smooth. Once all the butter is in, beat the buttercream on medium-high speed until it is thick and very smooth, 6 to 10 minutes. During this time, the buttercream may curdle or separate--just keep beating and it will come together again. On medium speed, gradually beat in the lemon juice, waiting until each addition is absorbed before adding more, and then the vanilla. You should have a shiny, smooth, velvety, pristine white buttercream. Press a piece of plastic against the surface of the buttercream and set aside briefly.

To make the lemon curd:

Put all the ingredients in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan and stir witha heatproof spatula to moisten the sugar. Put the pan over medium-low heat and cook, stirring without stopping, until the butter melts and the mixture thickens like custard, 4 to 6 minutes. Keep your eyes on the pan, because the curd can curdle quickly. It is cooked enough when you can run your finger along the spatula and the curd doesn't run into the track you've created. Don't worry if the curd looks thin at this point--it will thicken more as it cools. Remove the pan from the heat and scrape the curd into a heatproof jar or bowl. Press a piece of plastic wrap against the curd to create an airtight seal and cool to room temperature before storing in the refridgerator.

To assemble the cake:

Place a cake layer on a cardboard round or cake plate. Spread layer with a thick layer of buttercream. Over this, carefully spread about 3/4 of the lemon curd. I'd suggest refrigerating or letting the lemon curd/frosting set before topping with the second cake layer.
After adding the second cake layer, gently frost cake with the rest of the buttercream. With the remaining 1/4 of the lemon curd dot decorate the top of the cake with large happy polka dots.