Let Them Eat Cake

Lemon Poppyseed Chiffon Cake With Candied Citrus & Ricotta Filling

This perfectly stunning cake is lovely for spring and summertime parties, but try some other color and cut-out shape combinations for Christmas, Halloween, anniversaries (gold, silver) well… you get it. Bursting with a sumptuous ricotta filling and rolled fondant icing, it’s nothing short of breathtaking and amazingly serves 18. Purchase the fondant ready-made, and don’t forget to pick up a fondant smoother for a professional finish. This cake is no minor undertaking so be prepared for some work ahead. But you’ll be well-rewarded with an uproarious chorus of oohs and aahs as your guests dig in. So, let them eat cake and roll up your sleeves. I’ve tackled it and although my creation didn’t look quite as pretty as this picture, it was heavenly to eat and got rave reviews.

Ingredients You’ll Need

Candied Citrus & Ricotta Filling

3 cups of white sugar

3 cups of water

2 medium seedless oranges, sliced

1 lemon, sliced, pips removed

1 cup of smooth-style ricotta, or vegan substitute

1 cup of whipping cream, or vegan substitute (if there is one)

Lemon Poppyseed Chiffon Cake

4 cups of cake and pastry flour, sifted

2-2/3 cups of white sugar, divided in 2

1 tsp. of baking soda

1/3 cup of poppy seeds

1 tsp. of salt

1 cup of vegetable oil

12 eggs, separated

1 cup of lemon juice

1/3 cup of lemon zest

1/2 tsp. of cream of tartar

Simple Buttercream

3/4 lb of unsalted butter, softened, 3 sticks, or vegan butter

3 cups of icing sugar

1/4 tsp of salt

Assembly

3 lbs of plain prepared white fondant, divided

Cornstarch for dusting

Paste food coloring in your choice of colors

Only 13 Simple Steps to Make the Cake

1.  For the filling, combine sugar with 3 cups of water in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the orange and lemon slices to the pot. Bring o a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 35 to 40 minutes or until the fruit is tender. Remove the fruit with a slotted spoon and arrange on a rack to cool completely. Finely chop the fruit.

2.  In a large bowl, stir the fruit into the ricotta. In a separate large bowel, whip the cream to firm peaks. Fold one-third of the cream into the ricotta mixture to lighten it. Fold the remaining cream into the ricotta. Cover and refrigerate it until ready to assemble. You can make the filling up to two days in advance.

3.  Line the bottoms of four 9 x 9-inch baking pans with parchment paper. Do not oil the sides.

4. Arrange two oven racks near the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 325-degrees Fahrenheit.

5. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, 1-1/3 cups of sugar, the baking soda, poppy seeds and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the oil, egg yolks, lemon juice and the lemon zest. Set it aside.

6. In a separate large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the egg whites with the cream tartar until medium peaks form. Slowly add the remaining 1-1/3 cup of sugar and continue to beat until the mixture is glossy and holds stiff peaks.

7.  Stir the oil mixture into the flour mixture. Fold one-quarter of the egg whites into the batter to lighten. Gently fold in the remaining whites until no streaks remain.

8. Divide the batter between the prepared pans and bake, two pans per rack, for 25 minutes. Move the upper cakes to the lower rack and lower to the upper. Continue baking for an additional 10 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean. I usually used a clean butter knife as a tester, but some bakers use toothpicks and other utensils. Remove the pans to a rack to cool completely. Run a sharp knife around the edge of the cake. Invert the pans and gently peel back the parchment paper. Return the cakes to the rack until ready to assemble. Cakes may be made up to a day in advance and kept at room temperature, loosely covered with plastic wrap.

9. Almost there! While the cakes are cooling, prepare the Simple Buttercream. In a large bowl, cream the butter using an electric mixer on high speed. Reduce the speed to low and add icing sugar 1/2 cup at a time until all the sugar is incorporated. Beat in the salt, increase speed to high, and continue beating until the buttercream is light and fluffy.

10. To assemble, lay one cake layer in the center of a flat serving platter or covered cake board. Spread one-third of the citrus-ricotta filling over the surface of the cake. Top with another cake layer and another third of the filling. Repeat to form a 7-layer cake (counting cake and filling layers). Use a large offset spatula to spread the buttercream over the cake ensuring any gaps and hollow on the sides are filled. Discard any extra buttercream. Smooth the buttercream to form as perfect a cube as possible. Refrigerate the cake for at least 2 hours, or overnight.

11. Now the fun part! To decorate the cake, divide the fondant into one 2 lb portion, and two 8 ounce portions. Cover the smaller portions with plastic wrap. Dust your work surface with cornstarch. Roll the large portion of fondant into a 20-inch square a scant 1/4-inch thick. Dust the top of the fondant lightly with cornstarch and roll it into a tube. Beginning at the base of the cake, unroll the fondant over the top and down the other side of the cake. Smooth the top with the fondant smoother. Pull the excess fondant at the corners out and away from the cake. Smooth the corners with your hands to eliminate any creases. Smooth the sides with the smoother. Trim the excess fondant flush with the platter or cake board using a sharp knife.

12.  Choose two paste colors and massage a small amount of each into the two remaining fondant portions. Work with one portion at a time while keeping the other one covered in plastic wrap. Dust your work surface with cornstarch, then roll out the fondant to a 1/8-inch thickness. Cut into desired shapes with a round or oval cutter. Continue making the shapes with the remaining fondant. Apply the cut-outs to the cake in desired pattern by brushing a small amount of water onto the back side of each and pressing lightly onto the cake to adhere. The cake may be decorated up to eight hours in advance and is best kept at cool room temperature until ready to serve.

13. Congratulations, you made it! To serve, cut the cake, from top down, into thirds and each third into 6 pieces.

Thanks to the good ole LCBO for this tantalizing beauty. I have collected their “Food & Drink” magazine since the 1990s when it first raised its gourmet head in the form of a slick, sophisticated mag for foodies and wine connoisseurs. Cracking its glossy pages open six times a year accompanied by a glass of chardonnay is indeed a treat, a gift from the gourmand gods. Discover more tempting goodies at: LCBO Food & Drink

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