Lemon and Coconut Layer Cake by Sophie Edmonds from Sophie Likes Cake
Adapted from Treats from Little and Friday by Kim Evans
Makes a three layer 20cm cake
For the cake
300g butter, softened
Zest of 2 lemons
2 ½ cups castor sugar
7 size 7 eggs
2 ½ cups flour
2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
5 cups threaded coconut
¾ cup milk with the juice of one lemon (yes it is supposed to curdle)
For the cream cheese icing
200g cream cheese, softened
40g butter, softened
650g icing sugar (a little more for the icing used to pipe the barriers between the cake layers)
Juice of 1 lemon
For the lemon curd
Zest and juice of two lemons
1 cup sugar
For the meringue
2 egg whites (approx 70g)
Double the egg white weight in castor sugar (eg 140g)
Freeze dried raspberries
Threads of lemon zest
Spare drizzles of lemon curd
Make your curd the night before so that it has time to cool fully in the fridge before sandwiching between the cake layers. In a double boiler (ie a heat proof bowl over a pan of simmering water) heat the zest, lemon juice, butter and sugar together until the sugar has dissolved. In a separate small bowl, whisk together the eggs. Remove the bowl temporarily from the saucepan, take an electric hand beater (option) and whisk on high while your gradually pour in the beaten egg. Once the egg has been incorporated return the bowl to the saucepan and continue to stir the curd until it thickens. It should take around 20 minutes. Once thick, transfer to a container and leave to cool at room temperature before transferring to the fridge. This keeps for up to two weeks.
Preheat the oven to 170 degrees and line and grease three spring form 20cm cake tins. Cream together the butter and sugar together with the lemon zest until fluffy and pale. Beat in the eggs one at a time giving it a really good beat before adding the next, after all there are a lot of eggs to go into this. Sieve in the flour and baking powder in two lots, alternating with the milk and lemon, mix until just combined before folding through the coconut. Evenly split the batter between the three tins and bake for 45-50 minutes – start checking after 40 and cover the tops with tin foil if your oven is browning them too quickly. Once a skewer comes out only just clean (you still want a little bit of moisture) remove the cakes from the oven and leave to cool on cooling racks. I tend to cool my cakes overnight.
To make the icing, beat together the cream cheese and the butter until smooth. Gradually beat in the icing sugar adding the lemon juice to loosen it. You may not need all the juice. Beat on high so that it becomes fluffy and smooth. Remove a cup of the icing and add an extra 1/3 cup of icing sugar to make a stiff barrier icing. You can add more lemon juice to the remainder of the icing to make it more spreadable on the sides.
To assemble, make sure your cakes are totally level using a serrated knife to flatten the tops if needed. Eat the scraps. Place your first cake (ideally on a cake board) and spread over a good blob of icing and smooth it flat. Place the thicker icing in a piping bag fitted with a medium to large sized roundish tip and pipe a circle about 2cm from the edge all around the cake. Place a few large spoonfuls of curd into the middle and spread it around to meet the border. Place your second cake layer on top and repeat the process.
Place a disposable chop stick about 5cm from the centre of the cake. With a pen, mark on the stick where the top of the cake it. Remove the stick and mark on another stick the same position. Using a saw or your flatmates shitty bread knife trim the chop sticks so that they are the same height as your cake. Return one of them to the hole and add the other to the same position on the opposite side of the cake.
Place a generous blob of icing on the top of the cake and with a hot palette knife (I dip mine in a handy mug of just boiled water) smooth it over the top. With patience and probably a little more thinning of the icing with lemon juice, spread a thin layer oh icing all around your cake trying not to pick too many crumbs up. Crumbs are inevitable here though so do not stress. Leave to set for a few hours in the fridge so that the curd and icing inside the layers can firm up.
To make your meringue, whisk the egg whites together until they form a stiff foam. Make sure your bowl and whisk are SUPER CLEAN, double wash and dry with clean paper towel just to be sure. While beating on high, gradually pour in the sugar. Continue to whisk for about 10-15 minutes until the sugar granules have dissolved (test this by rubbing a smidge between your fingers). Once stiff peaks have formed and sugar dissolved, spoon your curd onto the top of your cool cake. Smear it around and move it into your desired spilled over effect. Take a brulee torch or a Bunsen burner or why not go all out and use your full on industrial grade blow torch (yeah maybe not) and brown the meringue as you see fit.
Decorate the cake with fresh flowers, berries and drizzles of lemon curd and whatever else your heat desires.
Slice with a good sharp chefs knife.