Lemon Pound Cake with Grapefruit-Vanilla Curd

2010-01-23

Lemon Pound Cake with Grapefruit-Vanilla Curd
 
Recipes from The Secrets of Baking by Sherry Yard
Notes: There's a section in the back of this book that combines various components to make a fancier, plated dessert. Since I still had some grapefruit left over, I thought that the pound cake with grapefruit curd would be a great dessert to make this week. While the recipe says to heat the curd to 170°F, I found that the consistency was still too runny at that temperature. By the time it got thick enough (ketchup-like), my thermometer read almost 190°F! I knew that whole eggs coagulate at around 180°F so I was a bit worried that I would scramble the mixture. But I kept carefully monitoring the slowly thickening curd, eventually relying on my own judgment rather than constantly checking the thermometer. In the end, the chilled curd was still a bit loose. I'll have to do more reading on the chemistry of lemon curd, perhaps trying the technique of combining the eggs, sugar and butter first, before the lemon juice. The inclusion of fresh-scraped vanilla seeds in the recipe gave a subtle, floral aroma to the finished curd, one that I quite liked.

Now, on to the pound cake. With buttermilk, lemon juice and lemon zest in the recipe, there was definitely a lot of flavour building going on. I only wanted one pound cake, so I made a half recipe and was a little suspicious when it only filled the 9-inch loaf pan halfway. Sure enough, after baking, I had a squat little cake that was only about an inch and a half high. There must be a typo in the yield for this recipe: it makes one 9-inch loaf, not two. I remade the full recipe of this cake, and also made the lemon syrup this time. I wouldn't recommend skipping the syrup, it really helps to boost the lemon flavour and adds a little needed moisture.

For assembly, I just spooned the runny curd onto a piece of cake, and garnished it with a few segments of pink grapefruit. This dessert idea was a fantastic combination, with balanced flavours and textures. The sweetness of the cake is offset by the fresh fruit, and the fine crumb of the cake is matched by the creaminess of the curd.