Light and Lemony: Lemon Mousse Cake with Fresh Raspberries

I again had the pleasure of making a birthday cake for my friend Dorothy this year, and she didn't give me any specific guidance on what type of cake she wanted. I decide to avoid chocolate given that Dorothy's older son refuses to eat it. But I wanted to make something befitting a milestone birthday. I decided to try Tish Boyle's recipe for "Lemon Mousse Cake with Fresh Raspberries" from The Cake Book. It's two layers of lemon chiffon cake soaked in ginger syrup, layered with lemon mousse, and filled with fresh rasbperries.

To make the chiffon cake batter, you mix all of the wet ingredients (egg yolks, vegetable oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, milk, and vanilla extract); add the dry ingredients (cake flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt); and then fold in egg whites that have been beaten with cream of tartar and sugar to stiff peaks. You pour the batter into a single 9-inch diameter pan and bake. The recipe says you should use a springform pan, but I used a regular cake pan lined with parchment, and it came out of the pan without a problem. Once the cake is cool, you split it into two layers.

The lemon mousse is basically lemon curd stabilized with gelatin and mixed with whipped cream. You cook egg yolks, sugar, lemon juice, salt, and butter until thickened; add gelatin softened in water; strain the mixture and let it cool; and then fold in whipped cream beaten to medium-firm peaks.
To assemble the cake, you put a cake layer into the bottom of a cake ring and brush it with ginger syrup (simple syrup with fresh ginger slices added while it is still hot). Then you spread on half of the lemon mousse and sprinkle on fresh raspberries that have been tossed with some of the ginger syrup. You stack on the other cake layer, brush it with ginger syrup, and spread on the rest of the mousse. You chill the assembled cake for at least three hours to set.

I didn't garnish the cake with anything, so it looked pretty boring -- a smooth finish of monochromatic lemon mousse all the way around. Even after slicing the cake, it wasn't that interesting -- the odd cross-sectioned raspberry here and there provided the only visual impact. But it tasted better than it looked! The cake was incredibly tender and light, and very moist. I love the texture of chiffon cake, and chiffon cake soaked in sugar syrup is even better! I was little disappointed that I couldn't taste any of the ginger from the syrup -- I tasted the ginger syrup plain and it was so wonderfully sweet and gingery that I wanted to slurp it up by the spoonful.

The flavor of both the cake and the mousse are delicate -- clearly lemony, but somewhat subtle. I almost wished there was also a layer of plain lemon curd between the cake layers to provide a strong punch of lemony flavor. It might not have a lot of wow factor, but this light and smooth cake is a refined delight.

Recipe: "Lemon Mousse Cake with Fresh Raspberries" from The Cake Book by Tish Boyle.

Previous Birthday Cakes for Dorothy: