A glorious layered lemon buttercream cake – Lamaita (Lemon Cake) or Alba ca Zapada (Snow White Cake).
One of my favorite Romanian cakes! I like lots of them, of course, but this Romanian Lemon Cake – Lamaita has a special place in my heart. Why? Simply because it was one of the first truly typical Romanian cakes that I’ve tasted and actually liked. I have mentioned it before that as a child I was not really a cake or sweets person. There were a few choice things I liked (like the Biscuit Salami or Arlechin), but the list was short. And most of the times I would not even try any cake, I just assumed I would not liked it and ignored it. I particularly hated buttercream cakes.
It was at my mother’s place that I had Lamaita for the first time. I was already grown-up, so I thought I should get over it and just give it a try and I liked it so much, I could not stop eating it for a while. We even baked it together again a few days later.
Afterward I had it several times at my aunt Geta’s place and it is her recipe I will give you today. Actually it should be the same recipe my mother used, the cake tastes exactly the same.
The Romanian Lemon Cake consists of four layers of crust held together by the creamiest, most delicious lemon buttercream filling. So good I could eat it with a spoon directly from the bowl. The idea of baking four layers of crust might sound difficult or time consuming, but it is really not the case. The dough is rather oily and that makes it really easy to roll and it only needs about 10 minutes in the oven, a total time of 40 minutes which is really more or less about the time you will need when baking a regular cake base as well. And while the layers are baking you can use the time to make the filling for the Romanian Lemon Cake.
Putting the cake together takes no time as well, but what I recommend is baking the cake one day in advance, I think letting it set and develop its flavor overnight makes it even better. I also recommend using European style butter, it has a higher fat content and less water and it tastes better when making buttercream. I used about 10 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice for the buttercream, that would be the juice of 2-4 lemons, depending on their size. I like the buttercream to be really tart, that strong lemon flavor is the best thing, but you should start tasting the filling after adding about 8 tablespoons and decide yourself if you want more or not.
Romanian Lemon Cake – LamaitaPrint This
- For the crust:
- 60 g/ 2.1 oz/ 1/3 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 100 g/ 3.5 oz butter, very soft
- 1 tablespoon baking soda
- 3 tablespoons milk
- 300 g/ 10.6 oz/ 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- zest of 1 organic lemon
- For the lemon buttercream:
- 150 g/ 5.3 oz/ ¾ cups sugar
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons corn starch
- 350 ml/ 11.8 fl.oz/ 1 ½ cups milk
- about 10 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, to taste (See note)
- 200 g/ 7 oz butter, soft
- icing sugar
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius/ 360 degrees Fahrenheit.
To make the crust beat together the butter and the sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs and mix well. Mix together the baking soda and the milk and incorporate into the egg mixture.
In another bowl mix together the flour and the grated lemon zest. Incorporate into the egg mixture. You will now have a rather oily looking dough that should not stick to your hands at all. You may add one tablespoon of extra flour if you feel it necessary, it depends on the size of your eggs if you need that extra tablespoon or not.
Divide the dough into four equal parts. Wrap the three dough balls that still have to wait in cling film to prevent them from drying out and set them aside in a cooler place, not the fridge but also not that close to the oven.
You will only need to butter the tin before you bake the first layer of crust.
Roll the first dough ball into a rough rectangle, place it on the buttered baking tin and roll again until the dough layer is as large as the baking tin: 32×22 cm/12×9 inches approximately (or similar size it doesn’t have to be so exact). And don’t stress too much about having perfectly straight edges, I never do. If that really bothers me when serving the cake I cut away (and eat) the edges before slicing the cake.
Bake for about 10 minutes or until slightly golden around the edges. Take out of the oven and while holding one side of the tin with a gloved hand, run the blade of a long knife underneath the crust. Let it slide carefully and slowly onto a cooling rack. Repeat with the remaining dough balls. Keep in mind that the tin is now very hot, don’t touch it when rolling the dough on top and use gloves when you transfer it to the oven. When the crust layers are baked, you can carefully staple them one on top of the other, they will not stick. Let them cool completely.
In the meantime make the lemon buttercream. Give the flour, starch and sugar to a bowl and mix with so much of the milk to obtain a thick yet runny paste.
Place the remaining milk into a saucepan and bring it to a boil. Slowly add the flour-sugar paste while whisking all the time. Continue whisking until the mixture thickens and comes to a boil again, that will happen very quickly. Let bubble for a few seconds while whisking and remove from the heat. Place a piece of cling film directly on top of the pudding to prevent it from getting that annoying skin and let it cool completely.
When cold add the freshly squeezed lemon juice and stir well. Taste after adding about 8 tablespoons and continue adding until it is as tart as you like it. I like it very tart.
In another bowl beat the butter until pale and fluffy. Slowly start adding the lemon pudding to the butter, one tablespoon at a time. Beat until incorporated. Taste the buttercream again and add more lemon juice if you like it.
Divide the filling into three portions. Reserve the best looking crust for the top of the cake. Place one crust on a serving plate and top it evenly with one portion of the buttercream. Place the second crust layer on top, press gently then cover it with the second buttercream portion. Repeat one more time. Place the reserved crust layer on top, press gently again and cover the cake with cling film. Place in the fridge for several hours or better overnight.
Cut into small rectangles and dust with icing sugar shortly before serving.
I used about 10 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice for the buttercream, that would be the juice of 2-4 lemons, depending on their size. I like the buttercream to be really tart, that strong lemon flavor is the best thing, but you should start tasting after adding about 8 tablespoons and decide yourself if you want more or not.
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