By Karen England, the Edgehill Herb Farmer.
The Baker’s Catalog came. Everything stops around here when the Baker’s Catalog comes from The King Arthur Flour folks. I read it cover to cover. In it was a recipe for “Pink Lemonade Cake”. I thought, “Yay! Perfect! I grow Pink Lemonade Lemons so I’ll make the cake.” Then I read the ingredients and realized that the cake’s color came from food coloring and it even used some powdered lemon juice which I didn’t have (or need, since I grow Pink Lemonade lemons). I wanted to use fresh pink lemonade lemon juice which is a slightly paler pink than a Ruby grapefruit and not use food coloring (per se) so I rummaged around my cookbook baking shelves and this is the delicious (alas, not pink in color) result. You can clearly see in the photo above that my cake is not pink like the inspiration cake. Drats!
Here is a photo of a “Pink Lemonade” Lemon on my tree. Pink Lemonade lemons are variegated green and yellow until they are ripe when the rind becomes completely yellow. It is very handy to know which fruits on the tree are ready for harvest since this tree is like the Meyer Lemon tree in that it has both immature and mature fruit, as well as blossoms on the tree at the same time year-round. It differs from a Eureka lemon tree which blossoms once a year and then sets fruit all maturing at the same time. The leaves on the Pink Lemonade tree are also variegated green and white and have a lovely lemon fragrance. I sometimes use the leaves similarly to Kaffir lime leaves in food.
I decorated it with edible flowers, pink “Wychwood scented geranium” blossoms to be exact, so there would be some pink color somewhere on the cake after I realized that, color-wise, my experiment was an epic fail. It was also a good choice of edible flower for this cake since Wychwood is a gorgeous pansy-faced scented geranium with a pleasant rose-lemon scent. I’m very proud to say, I grew those blueberries that I added to the top for a little cakery panache. I am patting my self on the back about those…
Pink Lemonade Lemon Cake
2 1/2 cups cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
grated zest of 1 pink lemonade lemon and 1 blood orange (Did I mention I also grow Blood Oranges? You can use regular oranges if that’s what you can get…)
2/3 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature, unbeaten
2 tablespoons pink lemonade lemon juice
5 tablespoons blood orange juice
2 tablespoons water (Note: I steamed 4 small red beets in 1/4 cup water to try to make my own food coloring. It did not work. Although 2 tablespoons of the resulting deep garnet colored beet water did turn the cake batter quite pink, the cake baked up a fluorescent yellow color as the above picture shows. I won’t do the beet part next time.)
Heat the oven to 350 – 375 degrees F.
Sift the flour once and then measure. In a bowl add the baking powder and salt to the measured flour and sift together three times. Set aside. (I’m sure this old-fashioned advice to sift the flour repeatedly is no longer applicable with modern flours that are free of lumps and debris but it is definitely part of the charm of the cake making process. So sift!)
In the bowl of a mixer, add the lemon and orange zest to the butter and cream thoroughly; add sugar gradually, and cream together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating thoroughly after each addition. Add the sifted flour mix, alternating with the fruit juices and water, a small amount at a time. Beat after each addition until smooth.
Pour batter evenly into two 8 or 9-inch round cake pans that have been buttered, then lined with parchment paper, and then the parchment paper has been buttered as well, and bake at 350 -375 degrees F. for 20 – 30 minutes or until done. Use a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake layers that comes out clean (no wet batter clinging to the pick) to test for doneness. Cool in the pans 10 minutes and then remove the cakes from the pans and put on a wire rack until completely cool. Frost when cool.
Luscious Lemon Frosting
1 tablespoon zest of blood orange
3 tablespoons butter
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons pink lemonade lemon juice
1 tablespoon water
pinch of salt
Add orange zest to the butter; cream well. Add part of the sugar gradually, blending after each addition. Combine lemon juice and water; add to creamed mixture alternately with remaining sugar and salt, until smooth and of the right consistency to spread. Makes enough frosting to cover the tops and sides a 9-inch two layer cake.
I adapted a 1933 cookbook called “All about Home Baking”, a General Foods Corp. publication, for both my cake and the frosting recipes. But for those of you who are interested, here is the catalog cake recipe that inspired me http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/pink-lemonade-cake-recipe