I think you might have noticed that I love to bake. All kinds of stuff, from bread and muffins to festive cakes or fondant decorated cakes. I might go so far as to say that I like baking even more than I like eating baked goods, which I do like, don’t get me wrong, but the actual process of baking gives me even more pleasure than eating the results in the end.
Baking has something almost therapeutic for me, the only requirement I have is to be left alone and do it undisturbed and in silence (or with the radio on, depending on the mood). I love placing all the ingredients neatly on the working surface, weighing them from the beginning and placing them in separate little bowls, stirring the batter or kneading the dough, forming the cakes if necessary, I love the smell that fills the house and most of all I like the decorating part.
I thought myself fondant decorating and made lots and lots of cakes during the past few years, mostly for friends or family. I don’t do that so much anymore (it has something to do with the continuous lack of time – blogging time), I only do it for special occasions or if somebody wishes for something particular. So nowadays I’m back baking the kind of cakes I use to bake before discovering fondant, that means lots of, in my opinion, typical German cakes made with a light sponge base and full of whipping cream and other milk products, thickened with gelatine and lavishly decorated with even more whipping cream. Sooooooooo gooooooooood!
And when it comes to eating what I bake, this kind of cake might be my favorite. Definitely not very figure friendly (although you can cut quite decisively on calories by using low-fat milk products and less whipping cream) but so yummy, really fresh tasting and light, with more filling than batter, definitely my kind of cake. And this lemon buttermilk is really particularly fresh and light, I loved every bite of it. And as for the calories, I haven’t counted but I am pretty sure that a regular cake with lots of batter and less filling has more calories than this one, due to the huge amounts of butter and sugar these cakes normally contain.
Working with gelatine might scare some people, but it shouldn’t, it is really not difficult. I will explain it again in the instructions but for more information on this theme have a look at this older post Peach Yogurt Squares, where I give lots of details about working with gelatine.
And now the most important part of this post, I highlighted it to make sure everybody sees it.
About the baking powder: I have learned very recently that there is a difference between the German and the American baking powder, the first being single-acting meaning that it is made of a mixture of heat-activated acid and baking soda. The American version is a double-acting baking powder, meaning that it reacts both at room temperature to moisture and when heated. This double-acting quality makes the batter rise before it is baked and also in the oven.
So when baking with German baking powder one golden rule is to never let the batter lay around for too long, it is meant to go directly to the oven the minute you are finished with the stirring. Make sure the oven is preheated.
Use the German Dr. Oetker baking powder for baking this recipe (and actually all of my recipes containing baking powder). If you cannot find it, I read that a good approximation would be to mix cream of tartar and baking soda in a 2:1 ratio + some salt. For example for one cup flour you would need to mix: 2 teaspoons cream of tartar + 1 teaspoon baking soda + ½ teaspoon fine sea salt. This would make 3 teaspoons for 1 cup of flour. In this recipe we only have about ½ cup flour mixed with cornstarch, so we only need 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder. It is pretty easy, I think. You could make a larger batch of the cream of tartar-baking soda mixture, keep it in a jar and take out as much as required in a recipe using a teaspoon.
- 4 eggs (medium Germany, large US)
- 3 tablespoons warm water
- 130 g/ ⅔ cup/ 4.6 oz sugar, divided
- 1 tablespoon vanilla sugar
- 75 g/ scant ⅔ cup/ 2.6 oz all-purpose flour
- 50 g/ ⅓ cup + 1 tablespoon/ 1.7 oz corn starch
- 1 ½ teaspoons German baking powder (Dr Oetker) OR 1 ½ teaspoons of the cream of tartar-baking soda mixture
- 8 leaves gelatine
- 300 ml/ 1 ¼ cup buttermilk
- 150 g/ ¾ cup/ 5.3 oz sugar
- 120 ml/ ½ cup fresh lemon juice (from 3-4 lemons, depending on size)
- zest from 1 organic lemon
- 600 ml/ 2 ½ cups whipping cream (30 % fat), unsweetened
- 200 ml/ ¾ cup whipping cream to decorate
- 4 teaspoons whipping cream stabilizer, optional
- chopped pistachios to decorate, optional
- 1 organic lemon to decorate, optional
- Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius/ 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line only the bottom of a springform (about 26 cm/ 10.2 inch diameter) with baking paper.
- Separate the eggs. Whisk the egg whites until stiff. Slowly add half of the sugar and the vanilla sugar and whisk again until stiff and glossy.
- In another bowl beat the egg yolks and the rest of the sugar until pale and creamy. Carefully incorporate the egg whites into the egg yolk mixture. Mix together the flour, starch and baking powder and sift over the egg mixture. Fold in carefully.
- Pour the batter into the prepared form and bake for about 25 minutes until golden brown. Remove from the oven, let stand for about 5 minutes, remove from the baking form and leave to cool completely on a wire rack.
- To make the filling soak the gelatine leaves for about 10 minutes (or according to the packet's instructions) in cold water.
- In the meantime stir together the buttermilk, sugar, lemon zest and lemon juice.
- Dissolve the gelatine according to the packet's instructions. I squeeze it very gently and place it into a pan large enough to hold the buttermilk mixture as well. I heat the gelatine on the lowest heat while stirring all the time with a spoon. It will only take about 20-30 seconds for the gelatine to dissolve, do not let it boil. Immediately start giving the buttermilk mixture to the gelatine, one spoonful after another, mixing continuously and only giving the next spoon to the mixture when the previous has been completely incorporated. Work quickly and after incorporating about half of the mixture you can start adding a bit more than one spoonful at the time to the mixture. Place this in the refrigerator for about 5-10 minutes or until it starts to set.
- Beat the first 2 ½ cups whipping cream until stiff and carefully fold into the buttermilk mixture.
- Cut the base of the cake into two slices. Place one slice on a cake platter and place the clean ring of the springform (or a special ring for this kind of purpose) around the cake slice. Pour ½ of the buttermilk-whipping cream mixture on top, level with a spoon and cover with the second cake slice. Pour the rest of the buttermilk mixture on top, level nicely and place the cake in the fridge until set, ideally overnight.
- When the cake is set, carefully go around between the cake and the ring of the springform with a knife. Remove the ring carefully.
- Whisk the rest of the whipping cream slowly adding the stabilizer, if using any. Place a few tablespoons of the cream into a piping bag with a nice nozzle of choice. Spread the rest of the whipping cream on top and around the edge of the cake. Decorate the cake with the whipping cream from the piping bag, pistachios and lemon slices. Refrigerate until ready to serve.