Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Divin moelleux au citron (French Lemon Cake)

How to describe a lemon?

Bitter, tangy and yet sweet. Yellow, round, and grow on trees.  Juicy, sour and so moist. Its one of the few fruits that can be used for making juices, marinades, garnishes, and cakessss. Need I go more? Its loaded with vitamin C, antioxidants, and lots of other good stuff. But the best thing about it? Its smell. There is a reason to why all the cleaning detergents have two smells: original or lemon. Its because nothing is fresher than a lemon. Absolutely nothing.

Today, I want to share a little obsession.

The first time I had moelleux au citron was Paul’s Café & Bakery in the Avenues. Needless to say, I fell in love. I couldn’t get enough of it. When I came home, it was I could think of. I knew I wanted to make something to resemble it. Who am I to try to copycat Paul’s cakes? But I wanted to try. After several (and I mean SEVERAL) recipes and failure I was devastated. I couldn’t find a recipe to taste so soft and cloudy. I became obsessed. I tried every lemon cake recipe I could find, but I was never satisfied. Every time I baked a cake, I went back to Paul and ordered moelleux au citron, my heart was weeping. I had fantasies of stalking the chef and stealing the recipe… I became obsessed.  I was so close to losing hope until I found this recipes. In English, it means divine lemon cake. I gave it a try, and indeed it was divine. True to its name.  My search was over. My obsessions was cured. I can now go back to living my life happily baking a lemon cake when I craved one, not fantasizing about stalking other chefs for recipes. Am still going there every time I crave moelleux au citron, but Paul I know your secret. This recipe is as close enough as I can get to your cake. For now.. Am still searching for more lemon-y recipes, but am cured.

The most important thing to remember when making this cake is to use cake flower as specified & to whip the egg whites until they are shiny and glossy.

This recipe calls for cake flour which i can’t find anywhere i Kuwait, but fear not, I’ve got a great DIY cake flour.

For every 130 g of cake flour (1 cup): 
  • 105 grams (3/4 cup) all purpose flour plus 30 grams (2 tablespoons) cornstarch.
  • Sift the flour and cornstarch four times before using in the recipe to incorporate air into the flour and voila, you got a cake flour ready to be used.

Whipping egg whites:
  • Use the freshest eggs you can find.
  • Its best to separate the eggs when they are cold.
  • Separate the egg whites from the yolks and ensure no egg yolks get into the whites.
  • Use an egg separator or separate the eggs in three bowls. One for the yolks, one for the whites, and one to use while separating the ehh whites. Sometimes the egg yolks break into the white, so to be on the safe side, use the third bowl to separate the whites, and when done, transfer the egg white to the remaining egg white mixture.
  • Bring the egg whites to room temperature before whisking.
  • Add a pinch of salt to the eggs.
  • Start whipping the egg whites with a pinch of salt at a medium low speed, once the egg whites are foamy increase the speed to high while watching the egg whites closely. They should become shiny and glossy.

Divin moelleux au citron (Lemon Cake) 
Adapted from here 

4 eggs, separated 
130 g icing sugar (2/3 cup)  + 10 g (2 ½ teaspoons) 
Zest and juice of two lemons 
80 g (1/3 cup) butter, melted  
120g cake flour (1 cup) (100 g all purpose flour + 27 g cornstarch) 
11 g (2 ½ teaspoons) baking powder 

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C /350 °F /Gas mark 4. Butter and flour a 8" cake pan (I used 9"). Set aside.
  2. Using the whisk attachment, beat the egg yolks and sugar lemon zest and juice until creamy and well incorporated. Gradually add the butter, flour and baking powder.
  3. Transfer the mixture to another bowl. Wash the bowl & whisk attachment and dry completely. (If your bowl or mixture is not completely dry, the egg whites will not rise, the cake will not be as light as it should be)
  4. Add the egg whites to the mixer’s bowl with a pinch of salt. When the egg whites are foamy, add 10 g of sugar. Continue to beat until the egg whites are shiny and glossy.
  5. Fold the egg whites into the cake gradually. Use a flexible silicone or metal spoon. Fold the egg white in three stages,  1/3 at a time. Fold  until just incorporated. Make sure not to “break” the egg whites.
  6. Transfer the cake batter into the cake pan.
  7. Bake in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.
  8. Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool. Once cooled, invert into serving place, dust with icing sugar or melted white chocolate.

Do you have an obsession over a certain recipe? Share your stories...

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