Strawberry Lemon Cake
By Christina Tosi
Lemon Cheesecake Recipe + Ingredients
makes about 460 g (2 cups)
1 recipe Liquid Cheesecake (below)
¾ recipe Lemon Curd (below)
makes about 325 g (1 ½ cups)
225 g or 8 oz. cream cheese
150 g or 3/4 cup sugar
6 g or 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
2 g or 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
25 g or 2 tablespoons milk
1. Heat the oven to 300°F.
2. Put the cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on low speed for 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Add the sugar and mix for 1 to 2 minutes, until the sugar has been completely incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
3. Whisk together the cornstarch and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk in the milk in a slow, steady stream, then whisk in the egg until the slurry is homogenous.
4. With the mixer on medium-low speed, stream in the egg slurry. Paddle for 3 to 4 minnutes, until the mixture is smooth and loose. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
5. Pour the cheesecake batter into an 8 x 8 Pyrex Deep baking dish, put the pan in the oven, and bake for 15 minutes. Gently shake the pan. The cheesecake should be firmer and more set toward the outer boundaries of the baking pan but still be jiggly and loose in the dead center. If the cheesecake is jiggly all over, give it 5 minutes more. And 5 minutes more if it needs it, but it’s never taken me more than 25 minutes to underbake one. If the cheesecake rises more than a ¼ inch or begins to brown, take it out of the oven immediately.
6. Cool the cheesecake completely, to finish the baking process and allow the cheesecake to set. The final product will resemble a cheesecake, but it will be pipeable and pliable enough to easily spread or smear, while still having body and volume. Once cool, the cheesecake can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up 1 week.
Vanilla Ingredients + Recipe Vanilla Cake
Makes 1 8x8 cake, to be cut in half height wise
115 g or 8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
250 g or 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
60 g or 1/4 cup tightly packed light brown sugar
110 g or 1/2 cup buttermilk
75 g or 1/2 cup grapeseed oil
12 g or 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
185 g or 1 1/2 cups cake flour
4g or 1 teaspoon baking powder
4g or 1 teaspoon kosher salt
Pam or other nonstick cooking spray (optional)
1. Heat the oven to 350°F.
2. Combine the butter and sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and cream together on medium-high for 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the eggs, and mix on medium-high again for 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl once more.
3. On low speed, stream in the buttermilk, oil, and vanilla. Increase the mixer speed to medium-high and paddle for 4 to 6 minutes, until the mixture is practically white, twice the size of your original fluffy butter-and-sugar mixture, and completely homogenous. Don't rush the process. You're basically forcing too much liquid into an already fatty mixture that doesn't want to make room for the liquid. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl.
4. On very low speed, add the cake flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix for 45 to 60 seconds, just until your batter comes together and any remnants of dry ingredients have been incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. If you see any lumps of cake flour in there while you're scraping, mix for another 45 seconds.
5. Pam-spray one 8x8 Pyrex Deep Dishes and line with parchment. Using a spatula, spread the cake batter in an even layer in the dish, filling about 50% of the dish. You may have some batter leftover. Give the bottom of your dish a light tap on the countertop to even out the layer.
6. Bake the cake for 30 to 35 minutes. The cake will rise and puff, doubling in size, but will remain slightly buttery and dense. At 30 minutes, gently poke the edge of the cake with your finger: the cake should bounce back slightly and the center should no longer be jiggly. Leave the cake in the oven for an extra 3 to 5 minutes if it doesn't pass these tests.
7. Take the cake out of the oven and cool on a wire rack or, in a pinch, in the fridge or freezer (don't worry, it's not cheating). The cooled cake can be stored in the fridge, wrapped in plastic wrap, for up to 5 days.
Lemon Curd Recipe + Ingredients
Makes about 460 g (2 cups)
100 g or 1/2 cup sugar
1 gelatin sheet
115 g or 8 tablespoons butter, very cold
2 g or 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1. Using a Microplane or the finest-toothed side of a box grater, zest the lemons. Do your best to grate only as far down as the yellow part of the skin; the white pith has less lemon flavor and can be bitter. Squeeze 80 g (1/3 cup) juice from the lemons.
2. Put the sugar, lemon zest, and lemon juice in a blender and blend until the sugar granules have dissolved. Add the eggs and blend on low until you have a bright-yellow mixture. Transfer the contents of the blender to a medium pot or saucepan. Clean the blender canister.
3. Bloom the gelatin (see below).
4. Heat the lemon mixture over low heat, whisking regularly. As it heats up, it will be begin to thicken; keep a close eye on it. Once it boils, remove it from the stove and transfer it to the blender. Add the bloomed gelatin, butter, and salt and blend until the mixture is thick, shiny, and super-smooth.
5. Pour the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a heatproof container, and put in the fridge until the lemon curd has cooled completely, at least 30 minutes. The curd can be refrigerated for up to 1 week; do not freeze.
blooming the gelatin: get it right, or do it twice
In order to incorporate it seamlessly into a mixture, gelatin must be softened, or “bloomed,” first. To bloom any amount of sheet gelatin, soak it in a small bowl of cold water. The gelatin is bloomed when it has become soft, after about 2 minutes. If the gelatin still has hard bits to it, it needs to bloom longer. If it is so soft it is falling apart, it is overbloomed; discard the gelatin and start over. Gently squeeze the bloomed gelatin to remove any excess water before using.
To bloom powdered gelatin (any amount between ½ teaspoon and 2 teaspoons), sprinkle it evenly onto the surface of 2 tablespoons of cold water in a small cup. If you pour the powdered gelatin into a pile on top of the water, the granules in the center will remain hard and will not bloom. If you use too much water to bloom the gelatin, it will dilute the flavor of the recipe and its consistency will be looser than intended. Allow the granules to soften entirely in the cold water for 3 to 5 minutes.
Once it is bloomed, in order to incorporate either kind of gelatin into a mixture, you need to dissolve the gelatin in hot, but not boiling, liquid – usually a bit of whatever it will be mixed into. If the gelatin gets too hot, it will lose its strength and you will have to start over again.
Milk Crumb Recipe + Ingredients
makes about 260 g (2 ¼ cups)
40 g or 1/2 cup milk powder
40 g or 1/4 cup flour
12 g or 2 tablespoons cornstarch
25 g or 2 tablespoons sugar
2 g or 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
55 g or 4 tablespoons butter, melted
20 g or 1/4 cup milk powder
90 g or 3 oz white chocolate, melted
1. Heat the oven to 250°F.
2. Combine the 40 g (½ cup) milk powder, the flour, cornstarch, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl. Toss with your hands to mix. Add the melted butter and toss, using a spatula, until the mixture starts to come together and form small clusters.
3. Spread the clusters on a parchment-or Silpat-lined sheet pan and bake for 20 minutes. The crumbs should be sandy at that point, and your kitchen should smell like buttery heaven. Cool the crumbs completely.
4. Crumble any milk crumb clusters that are larger than ½ inch in diameter, and put the crumbs in a medium bowl. Add the 20 g (¼ cup) milk powder and toss together until it is evenly distributed throughout the mixture.
5. Pour the white chocolate over the crumbs and toss until your clusters are enrobed. Then continue tossing them every 5 minutes until the white chocolate hardens and the clusters are no longer sticky. The crumbs will keep in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer for up to 1 month.
Pickled Strawberry Jam Ingredients + Recipe
makes about 360 g (1 ½ cups)
120 g or 1/2 cup strawberry puree
90 g or 1/2 cup sugar
4 g or 1 teaspoon pectin
1 g or 12 tablespoons kosher salt
9 g or 1/2 teaspoon sherry wine vinegar
6 g or 1/4 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1. Whisk together the sugar, pectin, and salt in a medium pot or saucepan. Slowly whisk in the strawberry puree, sherry wine vinegar, and white wine vinegar and bring to a full, rolling boil. Reduce the heat and cook at a low boil for 2 minutes to activate the pectin and turn the puree into a beautiful jam.
2. Once the pectin has been activated and coats the back of a spoon, remove the jam from the heat. The jam can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
Pickled Strawberry Frosting Ingredients + Recipe
makes about 200 g (1 cups)
115 g or 8 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
40 g or 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
.05 g or small pinch of citric acid
¼ recipe Pickled Strawberry Jam (above)
1 g or 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1. Combine the butter and confectioners’ sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and cream together on medium-high for 2 to 3 minutes, until fluffy and pale yellow.
2. Meanwhile, whisk together the citric acid, pickled strawberry jam, and kosher salt.
3. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. On low speed, gradually stream in the strawberry mixture. Use immediately.
Strawberry Lemon Cake Ingredients + Recipe
makes 1 layer cake, in Pyrex 8x8 Deep Dish
1 recipe Vanilla Cake (above)
20 g or 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 recipe Pickled Strawberry Jam (above)
1 recipe Lemon Cheesecake (above)
½ recipe Milk Crumbs (above)
1 recipe Pickled Strawberry Frosting (above)
1. Put a piece of parchment or a Silpat on the counter. Invert the cakes onto it and peel off the parchment from the bottom of the cake. Using a sharp knife, cut the cake in half, height wise, giving you two even squares of cake.
2. Layer the bottom of your Pyrex Deep Dish with the bottom half of the cake.
3. Using a spoon, give the layer of cake a good, healthy bath of half of the lemon juice.
4. Use the spoon to dollop the pickled strawberry jam in an even layer over the cake.
5. Sprinkle half of the milk crumbs evenly over the pickled strawberry jam. Use the back of your hand to anchor them in place.
6. Use the back of a spoon to spread a layer of the lemon cheesecake as evenly as possible over the crumbs.
7. Gently nestle the top layer of the cake on top of the cheesecake layer and give the cake a bath of the other half of the lemon juice.
8. Cover the top of the cake with the pickled strawberry frosting. Give it volume and swirls, or do as we do and opt for a perfectly flat top. Garnish the frosting with the remaining milk crumbs.
9. Transfer the Pyrex Deep Dish to the freezer and freeze for a minimum of 12 hours to set the cake and filling. The cake will keep in the freezer for up to 2 weeks.
10. Let it defrost in the fridge for a minimum of 3 hours.
11. Cut the layered cake and serve.