Candied Lemon Cake - successfully failed

I seriously considered not posting this recipe because it really was a disaster. But I didn't know that then.

With each successful recipe, I think a lot of bakers will admit there is always one that goes horribly wrong. I've burned a few cookies in my time, which totally frazzles my mood and turns the situation into a competition with the oven.

Here is the recipe (my notes on how I'm an asshole, to follow):

Candied Lemon Cake
original recipe from Donna Hay

candied lemon slices
1 1/2 cup superfine sugar
2/3 cups water
4 lemons, thinly sliced

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk

Preheat oven to 375˚F. Butter an 8-inch cake pan; dust with flour, tapping out excess.
Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Beat butter and sugar with a mixer on medium speed until pale and fluffy. Beat in egg. Add flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with buttermilk.
Pour batter into prepared pan, and smooth the batter out. Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 35-40 minutes. Let cool slightly.

To make candied lemon slices (from Donna Hay)
Place sugar and water into a saucepan over medium heat and stir to dissolve the sugar. Add the lemon and bring to a boil. Cook for 12-15 minutes or until syrup has thickened and the lemons are translucent. Pour the syrup over the cake and top with the lemon. Allow to cool before serving.


ALRIGHT. So. Everything had worked out smoothly in the cake baking department. I love this buttermilk recipe and I use it often. I don't really remember why, but I choose to use it instead of the cake recipe Miss Donna had given (Mistake #1)

The lemons. Dear God, those lemons. They were sliced, ready to go, and it's a given I have only made a syrup (caramel) once before (which didn't ...um...come out right.) but I am tenacious and went along with it like it was per usual.

I gingerly placed the slices into the pan, watched it closely, kept the boil even, and felt pretty damn satisfied with myself. Then in a matter of, oh I don't know, 25 seconds the syrup became way too brown and I had to jump ship and save those lemon slices! It happened pretty fast but I think I caught the whole thing in time. (Mistake #2)

The recipe calls for pouring the syrup onto the cake, then add the slices. No directions on getting the slices out of the pan and where to put them so they don't become sticky and not move from whatever it is you put them on! It was tricky, but I managed clearly breaking a sweat at this point.

Pouring caramel, not easy. Let's leave it at that. It's also really important to know exactly where you want to place a lemon slice, because once it's there it's there for good!

NOW. Cake is done, and it looks like this.

It's kind of gorgeous, and I was so excited while shooting it. Oh - is there more photographs you ask? Yeahhhhh, no. No, there isn't. 

I formatted my card thinking everything from this shoot was saved (Mistake #3). There it is, there is the super assholey move. 

But we're not finished yet! It's time to eat the cake! I think it was a mash up of mistake #1 and mistake #2 that made it hard to er, well eat. The candied lemons were so chewy and hard, while the cake was light and fluffy, it wasn't quite magical in my mouth. Like most cakes are supposed to be. 

I mean my family still ate it, but it was a super let down to me anyway. So if you want to make this recipe (cause after I just destroyed it, why wouldn't you?!) please follow Donna's cake recipe & watch your lemons. If I try it again (errrr...) I think a studier cake, like pound cake, would be perfect.


andrea despot said...

but at least it looks pretty!

ps. nice "real" post about the your assholey moves and mistakes :D

Vicky said...

Caramel is a pain. I tenanciously attempted to make toffee apples, it took 3 attempts and lots of open windows to clear the rank smell of burnt caramel from the first 2 attempts.

Bonnie said...

hey, at least you have a pretty picture to show for it. and it is nice to read a post that didn't turn out perfect, because we have ALL been there and it sucks!

I've floated meatloaf... no one told me to not cover the entire thing in tin foil... my poor husband attempted to try it and almost threw up in my face. but we have a funny memory to laugh about!

Tina Crespo said...

Thanks Andrea :)
Vicky - I honestly have no interest in making caramel again! It just hates me.

Bonnie I appreciate that you like the different take on recipe posting! Plus I made an involuntary "ugh" sound when I read "I've floated meatloaf" haha