August 23, 2010

Books and Bites: Lemon Cake with Chocolate Frosting

When you read a book with lemon cake in the title and on the cover, of course you have to make one like it for proper discussion of its text. The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake is about a girl who can taste the feelings of whoever prepared the food she eats, and she first discovers her gift when she tastes sadness in the lemon cake with chocolate frosting her mother made. Our book club concluded that the writing and characterization were strong, the concept amusing, and the plot overall very sad but most notably quite strange.

What I enjoyed most about the book was the author's descriptions. I need to learn to talk about food like this: "Warm citrus-baked batter lightness enfolded by cool deep dark swirled sugar." That description fit my cake quite well, which is good considering I was mimicking the cake in the book.

I wouldn't have put lemon and chocolate together, but it worked. Really, you can't go wrong with chocolate frosting on anything. Recipe-wise, I stuck with the basics: Southern Living lemon cake and the chocolate frosting from the cocoa box. It was so delectable that I ate the giant slice I cut for pretty photograph purposes.

I don't know that I'd make lemon cake again because citrus desserts aren't my favorite, but this cake made me really want to make a basic white cake with almond extract iced with the same ah-mazing chocolate icing.

Luscious Lemon Cake
Southern Living: Our Best Desserts 2010

8 egg yolks
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 1/2 cups cake flour*
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 cup milk
1 tsp. lemon zest
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat the over to 375 degrees. Beat egg yolks at high speed with an electric mixer 4 minutes or until thick and pale.

Beat butter at medium speed until creamy; gradually add sugar, beating well. Add beaten egg yolks, beating well.

Combine flour, baking powder, and salt; add to butter mixture alternately with 3/4 cup milk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at low speed just until blended after each addition. Stir in 1 tsp. lemon zest, 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice, and 1 tsp. vanilla. Spread batter into 3 greased and floured 8-inch round cake pans.

Bake at 375 degrees for 12 to 17 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes. Remove from pans to wire racks, and let cool 1 hour or until completely cool.

Frost and assemble cake layers.

*I substituted 1 3/4 cup all purpose flour and 1/4 cup cornstarch for every 2 cups of cake flour.

“Perfectly Chocolate” Chocolate Frosting
Hershey’s Cocoa Box

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine
2/3 cup Cocoa
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Melt butter. Stir in cocoa. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency. Add small amount additional milk, if needed. Stir in vanilla. Makes about 2 cups frosting.


  1. Lemon and chocolate? never thought of it! I'm sure it's good though

  2. Would you recommend the book?? You know how I love to read! :)

  3. Lisa, I wouldn't necessarily recommend the book. It was interesting and good to discuss but not my favorite. I'll work on some suggestions to send you.

  4. Madoline, my rendition of this lemon-chocolate combination was chocolate cupcakes with lemon frosting. I made the cupcakes from your raspberry chocolate cupcake blog post (I halved it without messing up!), while Josiah whipped up some frosting with lemon juice and zest, coconut, and powdered sugar. They were delicious.

    And, I read the book and thought it was strange and not recommendable. I'm on a bad streak with books right now.


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