Local Flavor has tasted plenty of recipes delicious enough to be served in a restaurant. Today, we’re proud to say this recipe actually is.
Residents might have tasted Michele Scavo’s Lemon Mascarpone Layer Cake at Cusumano, the Old Forge restaurant her daughter, Nina Cusumano, owns. The cake is not only a hit at the Downvalley eatery but also earned Scavo a $50 gift card to Riccardo’s Market, 1219 Wheeler Ave.
“I do a lot of baking (for the restaurant), and I’m always looking for new recipes for cookies, cakes, cheesecakes,” the Old Forge resident said on a recent night. “People love lemon, so I was looking for a really great lemon recipe and came across this. It’s really good.”
Scavo starts with the lemon curd that, when cooled, thickens up to be layered inside the cake. Then, she creates the cakes, which have a vanilla base flavored with lemon juice and zest. Finally, Scavo makes mascarpone whipped cream frosting to top it all off.
“That fresh lemon curd through the center, there’s nothing like it,” she said.
The combination of the cake’s textures and flavors, from creamy frosting to fluffy cakes to sweet, tart lemon curd make this Lemon Mascarpone Layer Cake a dream.
It’s no surprise Scavo is a skilled baker, as she learned from the best — her mother, Shirley Bouselli. Bouselli would line up all the ingredients for dinner and Scavo would start the meal when she arrived home from school. Some of Scavo’s recipes include decadent cakes like Chocolate and Coconut Cream, as well as cheesecakes in flavors such as cherry almond, chocolate, pumpkin and lemon.
While the restaurant’s customers love her desserts, Scavo also has a sweet tooth. She follows a keto diet but makes all kinds of low-carb goodies so she’s not deprived of her sweets.
By day, Scavo is a registered operating room nurse. She enjoys her job and feels proud of her work, but creating in the kitchen is a relaxing activity.
“When I come home from work, I like to just decompress and start baking,” she said. “It’s like therapy.”
Michele Scavo’s Lemon Mascarpone Layer Cake
For the curd:
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice ((from about 1 to 2 lemons)
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
1/3 cup sugar
4 egg yolks
3 tablespoons salted butter
Combine all the ingredients in a double boiler (or in a metal bowl over a pot of simmering water). Heat while whisking constantly until mixture thickens and reaches 160 F or coats the back of a spoon.
Pour the lemon curd into a heat-proof bowl, cover with clear wrap pressed onto the top of the curd to prevent a film from developing, and refrigerate until cold.
For the cake:
3/4 cup unsalted butter, room (temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 tablespoons finely grated (lemon zest
6 egg whites
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons water
6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Preheat oven to 350 F and line three 8-inch cake pans with parchment paper and grease the sides.
Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the sour cream, vanilla extract and lemon zest and mix until combined. Add the egg whites in two batches, mixing until well combined after each. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed to make sure all is incorporated and smooth.
In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients.
In another small bowl or measuring cup, combine the milk, water and lemon juice.
Add half of the dry ingredients to the batter and mix until well combined.
Add the milk mixture and mix until well combined.
Add the remaining dry ingredients and mix until well combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed to be sure all ingredients are well incorporated.
Divide the batter evenly between the three pans and bake for 23 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out with a few crumbs. Remove the cakes from the oven and allow to cool for about 2 to 3 minutes, then remove to cooling racks to cool completely.
For the frosting:
2 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream, cold
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
16 ounces mascarpone cheese, chilled
Add the heavy whipping cream, powdered sugar and vanilla extract to a large mixing bowl and whip on high speed until soft peaks form. Add the mascarpone cheese to the whipped cream and whip until stiff peaks form (it will happen fairly quickly). Set whipped frosting in the refrigerator.
To assemble the cake:
Use a large serrated knife to remove the domes from the tops of the cakes.
Place the first layer of cake on a serving plate or a cardboard cake round. Pipe a dam of frosting around the outside of the cake (she uses Ateco tip 808 for the dam so it’s tall). Spread half of the lemon curd evenly on top of the cake layer inside the dam. It should fill the dam about halfway.
Add some mascarpone frosting to the top of the lemon filling and spread into an even layer to fill in the remaining dam space.
Add the second layer of cake and repeat the filling layer with the remaining lemon curd and additional mascarpone frosting.
Add the final layer of cake on top, then smooth out the frosting around the sides of the cake. Frost the outside of the cake, then use an offset spatula to create a striped pattern on the sides of the cake, if desired.
Pipe swirls of frosting onto the top of the cake and finish it off with some lemon slice candies and white pearl sprinkles. Refrigerate, well-covered, until ready to serve. The cake is best when served a little chilled but not cold.
Gia Mazur is an award-winning staff writer and beauty obsessive who joined The Times-Tribune’s Lifestyles department in 2015. She’s a product enthusiast who can’t live without an eyelash curler. A proud Virgo, Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution Lipstick in Pillow Talk is her go-to. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; 570-348-9127; @gmazurTT