Meyer Lemon Layer Cake + Sage Frosting

Cakes + Muffins Recipes Wheat Free Winter

A pretty layer cake to make the best of the short-ish Meyer Lemon season. Layered with vegan meyer lemon curd, a creamy sage frosting, and made with spelt flour and unrefined sugars, it will please a crowd at your next Wintery gathering!

 

I'm back! After a bunch of busy weekends and recipe fails, I can finally bring you this beauty of a cake. It took some testing, because as I mentioned in this post, I'd really like to wander further into the world of less refined baking. So finding solutions to a few problems I had took time. Though I have learned a few valuable things.

 

I've learned that I am not a big fan of using vegan butter unless it's 100% necessary, like when I need it to create a flaky pie crust / some kind of pastry (coconut oil rarely gives me the flakiness I'm craving). Vegan butter just doesn't sit right with me the majority of the time. And in frosting, I've never really loved it as a substitute for cow's butter. Which is why I generally like to use a coconut cream frosting, or a chocolate ganache frosting made with coconut milk, or something along those lines.

 

I wanted to create a REAL frosting for this cake. A light and creamy dream of a thing that holds it's own at room temperature and doesn't leave me feeling weird after eating it. I also wanted something that didn't require 1000000 cups of icing sugar to become frosting. It's just not for me, if I'm being honest with myself.

 

So, my mind flickered to Amy Chaplin, author of the wonderful cookbook At Home In the Whole Food Kitchen. I've made a chocolate cake recipe of hers before that I was initially skeptical of, but that piqued my curiosity with it's unique use of agar in the frosting. The agar sets the frosting mix made of coconut milk, natural sweeteners and other flavourings, then you whiz it up in a food processor until it's suuuuuper smooth. It thickens in the fridge to become a perfectly creamy, light and not too sweet frosting that holds up perfectly at room temperature and sits sturdily in a layer cake. It's magic.

 

So I've adapted one of her agar-set frostings to use here, because my experiments with vegan butter frostings for this cake were leaving me unsatisfied and dejected. I'm so happy that Amy has brought this kind of frosting to the world, it's glorious. It can be a little frustrating to blend up at times, I had to use my food processor first and THEN my vitamix to get it perfectly smooth. But the result is worth it for sure. Do give it a try.

 

 

 

 

The finely chopped sage that I've added to the frosting plays so well with the intensely fragrant flavour of the meyer lemon curd. If you'd rather not have the finely chopped sage IN the frosting, you could always just infuse the coconut milk agar mix with about 8 sage leaves as it's simmering, then strain them out before chilling the frosting. I tried this, It was lovely, but I loved the little flecks of green sage leaves peppered throughout the frosting. So I kept them. It's just a matter of personal preference.

 

Speaking of the lemon curd… it's my new favourite thing. I want to eat it on everything. Scones. Pancakes. Waffles. Toast. More cake. Erry. Thing. You can use regular lemons, obviously, but the meyer lemons make it a hell of a lot more interesting. They have such a fragrant zest, and they're sweeter and more floral than a regular lemon. In curd, they are a wonder.

 

The curd is adapted from the wonderful Miyoko Schinner, it uses a base of cashews to thicken the mix and I've adapted it to use a less refined sugar (maple) and to use coconut oil rather than the vegan butter called for in the original recipe. I am a big big fan of the result.  Though if you're using a less refined sugar the colour will be kind of off; it won't have that gorgeous lemon-y colour. So if you're very set on that colour, use cane sugar and add a little turmeric for a golden hue!

 

 

 

 

I think I may make this cake again very very soon. But in cupcake form… lemon curd in the middle of the cupcake, topped with the sage frosting. Perhaps a candied sage leaf or lemon slice to make it sparkle. Just yes.

 

On a personal note – hopefully I'm back on the blogging bandwagon now, though I'm giving myself plenty of leeway. My anxiety hit me like a bus a week or two ago. I had a couple of nights where I didn't sleep at all, and I'm at the point where 4  hours of sleep (albeit broken sleep) a night feels like something to celebrate. I'm going for walks around the beach most afternoons and doing yoga consistently, it's helping slowly.

 

I'm fairly sure it's all one big freak out about turning 25 in a month and a half, a quarter life crisis if you will (I know, still young, but I seriously thought I would have my shit sorted by now! Help people, my shit is not sorted!). My mind is a big mess, spinning around and around in circles. Thinking of all the possibilities of any given life choice, making endless mental pro/con lists and then becoming frozen because – uh oh Bek, you can't control everything that happens! Life is not a pro/con list! Life is MESSY. And there often isn't a right/wrong path, just a different one. Leading to something else. Something beautiful all the same. Just, different. Ugh. How does anyone deal with this life thing without cake in their life. And copious amounts of coffee?!  Cake will help me. If nothing else.

 

So, make some cake, and let it help you with your problems too. With a thick wedge of cake and a coffee, threatening to spill over the top of the biggest mug you can find, nothing ever seems quite as bad.

 

x

 

 

 

 

Meyer Lemon Layer Cake + Sage Frosting

Yield 1 x 20cm 4 layer cake

vegan, dairy-free, egg-free, wheat-free, cane sugar-free

 

A pretty layer cake to make the best of the short-ish Meyer Lemon season. Layered with vegan meyer lemon curd, a creamy sage frosting, and made with spelt flour and unrefined sugars, it will please a crowd at your next Wintery gathering!

 

Cake adapted from my chai spiced cupcakes, curd adapted from Miyoko Schinner's The Homemade Vegan Pantry cookbook, frosting adapted from Amy Chaplin.

 

The frosting needs 4+ hours of chilling time before you frost! Make it the day before you plan to serve the cake for best results. The same can be said for the lemon curd. 

Ingredients

for the cake

  • 3 3/4 cups almond milk 
  • 6 tbsp meyer lemon juice 
  • 4 1/2 cups white spelt flour
  • 4 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp. fine sea salt
  • 1 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 2 1/4 cups coconut sugar
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • zest of 1–2 meyer lemons, about 1 1/2 tbsp

for the lemon curd

  • 1 cup cashews, soaked in water for 3–8 hours, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup maple syrup or sweetener of choice (using granulated sugar will give you a nicer coloured lemon curd, but maple/coconut sugar etc. are less refined, the choice is yours)
  • zest of 2–3 meyer lemons, about 2 tbsp
  • 3/4 cup meyer lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil or vegan butter
  • pinch of turmeric for colour (optional)

for the frosting

  • 4 1/2 x 400ml cans coconut milk (you may need to use the other 1/2 a tin to thin the frosting when blending)
  • 1/4 cup agar agar powder
  • 1/4 tsp. fine sea salt
  • 1 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp brown rice syrup
  • 2 tbsp + 1 tsp. arrowroot starch
  •  1 tbsp meyer lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1/8 – 1/4 tsp. turmeric (optional – for a lemony colour)
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp very finely chopped sage

Instructions

for the cake

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C / 350°F and oil and line the bottom and sides of four 20cm/8 inch cake pans with baking paper (or if you only have 2 tins available, just leave half of the mix in the bowl, bake two cakes, and then bake the final two cakes when the tins are free). 
  2. Whisk the almond milk and lemon juice together in a jug and allow to sit for 10 minutes to turn to 'buttermilk'. 
  3. Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. In a separate bowl whisk together the melted coconut oil, coconut sugar, vanilla extract, meyer lemon zest and 'buttermilk'. Gently fold the wet mix into the dry mix until just combined with no floury patches. 
  4. Divide the batter between the prepared cake tins and bake (2 at a time if you have a small oven) for 25–30 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack (in the pan) until completely cool. 

for the curd

  1. Combine the soaked cashews and water in a blender, blend until very smooth and creamy. Pour into a medium saucepan and place over a medium-high heat, bring the mix to a simmer, stirring constantly with a spatula to make sure the bottom doesn't burn until the mix thickens, about 5–10 minutes. Reduce the heat if the mix is threatening to burn or become lumpy. 
  2. When thickened, add the maple syrup, lemon zest, lemon juice and coconut oil or vegan butter (and turmeric if using) and whisk until smooth. Pour into a container and let it cool completely in the fridge before using, it will thicken as it chills. Keeps for 1 week in the fridge. 

for the frosting

  1. Whisk coconut milk, agar powder, salt, maple syrup and rice syrup together in a large saucepan.  Place over high heat and bring to a boil, whisking often to avoid the bottom burning. Lower heat and simmer for 5 minutes to make sure that the agar has completely dissolved. 
  2. Mix the arrowroot with the lemon juice, water and turmeric (if using) and slowly pour into the coconut milk-agar mixture, whisking constantly. Turn up the heat and continue whisking until the mixture begins to boil again. Remove from the heat and stir in vanilla extract and sage. Pour into a large bowl, once it has stopped steaming place in the fridge and chill until completely set (it will be quite firm!), about 2–3 hours.
  3. Scoop the mix into a food processor and process until completely smooth*. Scrape down the sides as you go to make sure everything is blended. Place the frosting in a container and chill for at least an hour or longer if you have it – it thickens as it sits in the fridge and becomes easier to frost with! 

assembly

  1. Level off the tops of the cakes with a knife if need be to create flat, even surfaces. Place one cake on your cake stand/serving plate then top with about 1/2 cup of the frosting. Drizzle about 2 tbsp of lemon curd over the top, then top with the next cake layer, repeat. When you reach the top layer, spread a thin layer of frosting over the top and sides of the cake and place in the fridge to chill for 30 minutes or so (if you are after a 'naked' cake look, this is all the frosting you need!). Now spread another layer of frosting on the top and sides of the cake, as much as you'd like (you may have some frosting left over if you aren't after a thick coat). Smooth it off and decorate the cake as you see fit.
  2. Serve asap in thick slices, with extra lemon curd if you'd like. Leftovers will keep in the fridge for a day or two, though the cake layers will begin to dry out, so eat it all up as soon as you can!

Notes

* If your food processor is not particularly strong you may need to transfer it to a blender as I did to get the mix completely smooth and creamy, you may need to add some extra coconut milk here to help it process. It might look slightly 'curdled' during processing/blending but it will become creamy if you keep going!

Courses dessert

 

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2 Comments

  • Reply
    Allison
    14.06.17 at 2:59 pm

    aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaamazing! So pretty. Do you grow those sage leaves yourself?

  • Reply
    Alexa | The Basil & Cinnamon Sagas
    22.06.17 at 6:42 am

    I hope you're feel better soon, Bek! Anxiety is no fun. Something that I heard recently that I really liked is that all anxiety comes from the past or the future–meaning, worrying about something that happened in the past or might happen in the future. If you keep your mind in the present moment, anxiety cannot exist. I don't know if that idea will be helpful to you, but I found it interesting! Also–I'm not sure if you've ever heard of barre, but I really enjoy it and it always helps me to feel centered and empowered and healthy. You can see if you have any studios near you, but I would suggest barre3 online workouts too. You can buy a subscription, but they're about to start a free 28-day summer challenge, so you could also just sign up for that to trial it out! I adore barre.

    This cake is beautiful, and I love the little flecks of sage in the frosting. I'm not a big lemon-dessert person, but even I have to admit that this looks absolutely delicious!

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