Hurricane Party: White Velvet (lemon) Cake

It’s a little embarrassing, but it is undoubtedly true: we city mice get a little het up when Mother Nature decides to throw a fit. We forget, here in our concrete and glass eyries, that her wrath is mighty, indeed; and so, when she gets angry, we tend to freak out just a little, because we have NO IDEA what to do. And so, we improvise (once we stop wringing our hands). If you’re the MTA, that means you shut down. If you’re a normal human being, you lay in a supply of water and canned goods. If you are a ridiculous human being, you stock up on vodka and cigarettes. If you are DOUBLE ridiculous, you go out into the storm with a cake.

Guess which category I fell in.


Well, what was I supposed to do? It was the first birthday of the world’s cutest baby. Like I could possibly let that go by unmarked? Pssh. No no. Little C was going to have birthday cake, no matter what Irene had to say about it! And so, I spent the beginning of my hurricane shepherding a pearlescent, violet-covered lemon cake down to south Brooklyn. I was the recipient of a surprising amount of commentary on the way from fans of my “hurricane cake” (Personal favorite: “Yeah, that’s right! We’re New Yorkers! Irene can’t take away our cake, am I right?”); never let it be said that Brooklyn doesn’t know how to appreciate baked goods.

The journey, however, was not the complicated part. The complicated part was digging up a recipe for lemon cake that would satisfy me. You may have gathered by now that I am…the slightest bit persnickety when it comes to cake. I want it dense. I want it moist. I don’t want any of this airy-fairy sponge cake bullshit. No no. I want cake with HEFT. However, there aren’t a lot of white cakes out there that fit the bill; as such, I’m sure you can imagine my elation when I stumbled across a recipe for white velvet cake(!). Given my well-documented obsession with red velvet cake, I could not help but take the discovery of this recipe as a sign from the heavens–and I am going to stick with that assessment.

Forget the cake; I'll nibble on the baby.

Forget the cake; I'll nibble on the baby.

You see, this cake was, in a word, BODACIOUS. Honestly. Rich, moist, flavorful, just-dense-enough…completely amenable to a little last minute citrus-related transmogrification… Without question, my new go-to white cake. With. Out. Question. Little C’s mama, Lady A, has remarked on more than one occasion that this cake has been haunting her dreams–it’s that good. Which it is. It really, really is.

Which I guess is the silver lining to an entire city being completely unprepared for a hurricane: fewer people out and about with whom to fight over the last slice!

White Velvet (lemon) cake

1 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 egg yolks
2 eggs
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or, in the case of this cake, use lemon. With maybe a drop of almond)
1 cup buttermilk
2 1/2 cups sifted flour

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Butter three 8-inch round cake pans. Line the bottoms with rounds of parchment; butter the parchment, then flour the pans. Knock out excess flour.
  3. In a large bowl, cream the sugar and butter together until fluffy. Then, add egg yolks and then eggs, one at a time.
  4. Meanwhile! Combine the buttermilk, baking soda, and vanilla (or lemon). This mixture will start to bubble and fizz, so be sure you’ve picked a big enough bowl. I actually used a 2-cup measuring cup.
  5. Add buttermilk mix and flour, alternating, to the butter and sugar. I recommend doing this in two batches. Mix until just incorporated.
  6. Pour batter into prepared pans, and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool for 20 minutes in the pans, and then turn out on to wire racks until completely cool.

I assembled the cake with a lemon curd filling,  cream cheese frosting, and a lemon glaze…but if you keep it vanilla, I’d wager it would go with just about anything.

In baking, lemon, parties

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