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Buttermilk Cake
Serves 8

4 large egg yolks
2/3 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups sifted cake flour
1 cup sugar
1 Tbs. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
8 Tbs. unsalted butter, softened

Grease a 9-inch by 2-inch cake pan or 9-inch springform pan, then
line bottom with parchment or wax paper, then grease again and
flour.

Preheat the oven to 350 deg F.

In a medium bowl lightly combine the yolks, 1/4 of the buttermilk,
and vanilla.

In a large mixing bowl combine the dry ingredients and mix on low
speed for 30 seconds to blend. Add the butter and remaining
buttermilk. Mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened.
Increase to medium speed (high speed if using a hand mixer) and
beat for 1 1/2 minutes to aerate and develop the cake's structure.
Scrape down the sides. Gradually add the egg mixture in 3 batches,
beating for 20 seconds after each addition to incorporate the
ingredients and strengthen the structure. Scrape down the sides.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the surface with
a spatula. The pan will be about 1/2 full. Bake 30 to 40 minutes
or until a tester inserted near the center comes out clean and the
cake springs back when pressed lightly in the center. The cake
should start to shrink from the sides of the pan only after removal
from the oven.

Let the cake cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes. Loosen the
sides with a small metal spatula and invert onto a greased wire
rack. To prevent splitting, reinvert so that the top is up and cool
completely before wrapping airtight.

Garnish with a dusting of powdered sugar,
lemon buttercream, or creme fraiche topped with peach slices.


Lemon Buttercream
Makes 4 cups (enough to fill and frost two 9-inch by 1 1/2-inch layers or
three 9-inch by 1-inch layers)

6 large egg yolks
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 cups unsalted butter, softened
1/4 tsp. lemon extract

Have ready a greased 1-cup heatproof glass measure near the range.

In a bowl beat the yolks with an electric mixer until light in
color. Meanwhile, combine the sugar, water, and lemon juice in a
small saucepan (preferably with a nonstick lining) and heat, stirring
constantly, until the sugar dissolves and the syrup is boiling.
Stop stirring and boil to the soft-ball stage (238 deg F.).
Immediately transfer the syrup to the glass measure to stop the
cooking.

If using an electric hand-held mixer, beat the syrup into the yolks
in a steady stream. Don't allow syrup to fall on the beaters or
they will spin it onto the sides of the bowl. If using a stand
mixer, pour a small amount of syrup over the yolks with the mixer
turned off. Immediately beat at high speed for 5 seconds. Stop the
mixer and add a larger amount of syrup. Beat at high speed for 5
seconds. Continue with the remaining syrup. For the last addition,
use a rubber scraper to remove the syrup clinging to the glass
measure. Continue beating until completely cool.

Gradually beat in the butter and lemon extract. Place in an airtight
bowl. Bring to room temperature before using. Rebeat if necessary
to restore texture.

To prevent crystallization, do not stir after the syrup comes to
a boil. To keep the temperature from rising, remove the syrup from
the pan as soon as it has reached 238 deg F. Don't allow the syrup
to fall directly on the beaters as it will spin the syrup around
the sides of the bowl. Using a hand held beater makes this easier.

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