This is my own version of a basic lemon layer cake--a fortuitous combination of trial-and-error experiment and empty-the-refrigerator desperation. You do have the option to make it less caloric; but the density of the full-fat ingredients produces the most delightful results. The proportion of clementine-to-orange juice is infinitely variable, depending on what's in your fruit bowl. You can even use all-orange juice or change everything to lemon. All-clementine juice is also a possibility, but you should still use orange zest because clementine peels are waxy and often unpleasantly bitter.
2 1/2 c. sifted unbleached cake flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
8 tbsp. (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
2 tsp. grated fresh orange zest
1 1/4 c. granulated sugar
2 large fresh eggs
1/2 c. sour cream (or yogurt)
1/2 c. freshly squeezed citrus juice: a mixture of clementines and oranges
1. Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees F. Grease and flour two 8-inch round cake pans.
2. In a medium-sized bowl, sift together the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
3. Using an electric mixer, cream together the butter and the orange zest. Gradually beat in the sugar. Beat in the eggs one at a time, until the mixture is light.
4. Beat about 1/4 of the dry ingredients into the butter mixture. Beat in all of the sour cream (or yogurt). Now, alternating with the orange-clementine juice, beat in the rest of the dry ingredients.
5. Divide the batter between the prepared cake pans. Bake about 25 minutes, or until the tops spring back when lightly touched and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
6. Cool in the pans on a rack for 10 minutes. Then turn out the layers on a rack and cool to room temperature before frosting.
1 8-oz. pkg. mascarpone (or cream cheese or neufchatel cheese or even plain white goat cheese)
4 tbsp. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
3 c. sifted confectioners' sugar
1/4 tsp. lemon extract (more to taste, if needed, but a little goes a long way)
1. With your electric mixer, cream the mascarpone (or optional cheeses) with the butter. Beat in the sugar, a 1/2 cup at a time, until the frosting is smooth. Beat in the lemon extract.
2. Frost the cake. This recipe makes a generous amount (almost 3 cups), so don't be afraid to spread plenty between the layers.
3. Chill to set the frosting.