The outermost layer of a lemon rind is full of aromatic essential oil that can liven up dishes, desserts,and drinks.
To grate a lemon:
Rub a lemon against a rasp or grater with very small holes, rotating the fruit as soon as the white pith appears. One lemon should yield 2 to 3 teaspoons of fluffy zest.
Use lemon zest when baking sweets, making salad dressings or marinades, or for sprinkling on roasted vegetables.
Lemon Cake with Raspberry Jam
(Makes one 8-inch cake)
This lemon cake filled with raspberry jam is perfect with an afternoon cup of coffee or tea. It's a nice cake for people who don't like very sweet desserts. The flavor is reminiscent of a fresh jelly doughnut. You can substitute any flavor jam that you prefer but use a good quality preserve. To add even more lemon flavor, fill the cake with lemon curd instead of jam. Note that the first part of the recipe involves making a pastry cream. The cream is then blended into the cake batter. This unusual step adds moisture and a delicate crumb to the cake. The filled cake can be made ahead of time and it will stay fresh for several days in the refrigerator. You can also microwave it for 20 to 25 seconds to bring back that warm, fresh-baked flavor.
2/3 cup whole milk or half and half
2 egg yolks
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon flour
4 teaspoons cornstarch
Pinch of salt
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup sugar, divided
3/4 cup cake flour
1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour or all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 egg whites (1/2 cup)
1 (12 to15 ounce) jar seedless raspberry preserves
Sweetened whipped cream
To Make the Pastry Cream:
In a small saucepan, bring the milk to a simmer. In a bowl, whisk together the yolks, sugar, flour, cornstarch, and salt. Whisk the hot milk into the egg mixture. Return the mixture to the saucepan and place over medium heat.
Whisk the mixture constantly until very thick, about 3 minutes. Stir in the butter and vanilla. Spread the pastry cream on a plate and cool to room temperature, about 10 minutes.
To Make the Cake:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter an 8-inch springform pan.
In a bowl, whisk the pastry cream with the 6 tablespoons of butter until smooth.
Whisk in the lemon zest and juice. Add 1/4 cup of sugar, cake flour, pastry flour, baking powder, and salt; whisk until smooth.
In a clean bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar until the mixture is glossy and stiff. Fold 1/3 of the beaten egg whites into the cake batter. Then fold in the rest of the whites until no steaks of white remain.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 35 - 40 minutes until golden and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and cool in the pan for 20 minutes. Remove the springform ring and cool the cake completely on a rack.
Using a serrated knife, split the cake in half horizontally. Remove the top layer.
Spread the raspberry preserves on the bottom layer and replace the top.
Dust the top liberally with confectioners' sugar. Serve each slice with a dollop of sweetened whipped cream and a few fresh raspberries.
Lemon Cake filled with Raspberry Jam