Monday, April 6, 2015

Honey Cake with Lemon Curd & Lemon Meringue Buttercream + Easter Party Recap

Hello readers! I hope you had a most enjoyable and blessed Easter!

Easter is one of my favorite holidays of the year. It's up there with Christmas for me. But not just because of the bunnies, eggs and candy. I love Easter for the meaning behind it. Yes, I am a Christian. An unashamed Christian who has no problem showing that faith to others. So, to me, Easter is a time to remember Christ's sacrifice. To remember why my life is worthwhile. From Good Friday through Easter Sunday, it's a weekend of reflection that really puts things back into perspective.

Now all of that doesn't diminish the fact that I LOVE the bunny/egg/candy side of Easter as well. As I've stated many times before on this blog, I'm corny obsessed with holidays. I take every opportunity to go all out. And Easter is no exception. I think its just how I was raised. Up until a few years ago my mother was still hiding little chocolate eggs around the house for my brother and I to hunt for when we woke up in the morning. We were both in college. Yep, I have no shame. I still dye Easter eggs (did it Saturday night). And we still get Easter baskets full of candy from my parents. Honestly, I don't think I'll ever be too old for this. Forever a kid at heart.

Every year for as long as I can remember my parents have thrown a party on Easter Sunday. We go to the early service at church and then come home to start prepping the food. Each year varies in the amount of people we have in attendance. Some years it has only been a few immediate family members. Other years we have a large group show up. But one thing is always the same: THERE IS SO MUCH FOOD! I mean, look at all of this. That's not even close to being all of it!

My parents are notorious for serving proportionally too much food for however many people are at the house, whether its a party, family dinner, cookout, etc. And everyone loves it. Because the food is delicious. This year we had one of the biggest group of partiers we've ever had. So, yep, tons of food.

Almost every year I contribute something for dessert. It's usually a chance for me to try out some new spring-y recipe I found on Pinterest. But this year I was inspired to create my own recipe. The inspiration mostly came from the Isaiah's Garden products I've been using. I love their Pure Honey and Lemon Life lemon juice so I started thinking about how I might use those together in a dessert recipe that would be light, spring-y and work for Easter. I came up with a three-layer Honey Cake with Lemon Curd and Lemon Meringue Buttercream. The honey cake is light and sweet. The curd is lemony and contrasts well with the sweetness of the cake. And the buttercream is light with a more subtle lemon flavor than the curd.

This cake uses cleaner ingredients than you would find in most cakes. It is sweetened with honey, rather than sugar, and uses coconut oil and apple sauce in place of other oil and butter. So, while I wouldn't say it's a "healthy" cake, it is much better than a lot of alternatives (i.e. all other cakes brought to my parents' party) so you can enjoy with a little less guilt.

3-Layer Honey Cake

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~ Ingredients ~

2-1/2 c. cake flour
1-1/4 c. unsweetened almond milk
1/2 c. apple sauce (all natural, no sugar added)
1/4 c. non-fat plain greek yogurt
1/4 c. coconut oil (melted)
2 eggs
3 egg whites
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. salt
2-1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1-1/4 c. honey (I used Isaiah's Garden Pure Honey)
Lemon Curd
Lemon Meringue Buttercream

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~ Directions ~

Preheat oven to 325° and grease three 8-inch round baking pans.

In a large bowl, combine cake flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, using an electric mixer, combine coconut oil, egg and egg whites. Add almond milk, honey, apple sauce, greek yogurt and vanilla extract, mixing until incorporated.

Slowly add the dry ingredients a little at a time, mixing well between each addition, until the batter is smooth.

Pour batter into greased pans and bake for 40 minutes, or until fork inserted into the middle of the cakes come out clean. Let cakes cool completely before removing from pans.

Assembling the Cake

Remove the cakes from the baking pans. Spread a healthy layer of the lemon curd atop one of the cakes and top with a second cake. Repeat with the third cake, then cover the three layers with the buttercream and decorate to your liking.

Because I was making this cake for my parents' annual Easter party, I decided to do a bunny cake. The bunny is made from white vanilla fondant. I used pre-made because I was too lazy to make it myself. But you can also make your own fondant from scratch. I also dyed about half of the buttercream with green food coloring to make it look like grass for the bunny to rest in. The edge is rimmed with a mixture of dark and milk chocolate Dove eggs.

I take no credit for the bunny butt cake idea. That one did come from Pinterest. :) I aim to make the icing decorating better the next time I make this. I, unfortunately, misplaced my icing tools so I had to wing it with this one. It turned out OK, but not quite as pretty as I would have liked.

Taste: The cake was delicious! So moist! It's turned out perfect! The sweetness of the cake contrasted well with the lemon in the curd and buttercream. I will definitely make this again.

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