We made this luscious lemon layer cake for our Welcome Spring classes in March, and not only is it a stunner it is beyond delicious. The intense lemon flavor is just perfect for spring. It is in fact a Triple Lemon Layer Cake because it features lemon cake, lemon curd between the layers of cake and a lemon buttercream outer frosting. Garnish with long twists of lemon zest and silver dragees for a very elegant finish. This beautiful baked creation is a perfect focal point for your Easter or Mother’s Day table.
Recipe: Triple Lemon Layer Cake
Summary: This beautiful and delicious lemon cake is perfect for your springtime special occasion table.
- For the cake:
- 2 1/3 cups cake flour; more for the pans
- 2 ¾ tsp. baking powder
- ¼ tsp. salt
- 1 ¾ cups sugar
- 2 Tbsp. lightly packed finely grated lemon zest
- ¾ cup butter, completely softened at room temperature; more for the pans
- 1 cup whole milk, at room temperature
- 5 large egg whites, at room temperature
- ¼ tsp. cream of tartar
- For the frosting:
- 1 cup butter, completely softened
- 2 Tbsp. finely grated lemon zest
- 3 ½ cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
- 3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
- For the filling:
- 1 recipe lemon curd
- Position a rack in the middle of the oven; heat the oven to 350°F.
- Generously butter and flour two 8 x 2-inch round cake pans. (We like to use Baker’s Joy spray to be sure that every bit of the pan is evenly covered.)
- Sift the cake flour, baking powder, and salt together into a medium bowl.
- Pulse 1/4 cup of the sugar with the zest in a food processor until well combined.
- In a large bowl, beat the butter and lemon sugar with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 1-1/2 minutes. (This step is important so be sure to give it at least a full minute, you want fluffy butter for a fluffy cake!)
- Add the remaining 1-1/2 cups sugar and beat until smooth (about 1-1/2 minutes). Beat in a quarter of the milk just until blended.
- On low speed, add the flour mixture alternately with the milk in three batches, scraping the bowl with a rubber spatula; beat just until blended.
- In another large bowl, beat the egg whites with an electric mixer on medium speed just until foamy. (When beating egg whites it is important that not a drop of fat – yolk, butter, etc., makes contact with the whites or they will not inflate!)
- Add the cream of tartar, increase the speed to medium high, and beat just until the whites form stiff peaks when the beaters are lifted.
- Add a quarter of the whites to the batter and gently fold them in with a whisk or a rubber spatula (you are doing this to lighten the batter mixture so that the rest of the fluffy egg whites can combine with it without being crushed); continue to gently fold in the whites, a quarter at a time, being careful not to deflate the mixture.
- Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. Smooth the tops with the spatula. Bake until a pick inserted in the centers comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool in the pans on a rack for 10 minutes.
- Run a table knife around the inside of the pans and carefully invert each cake out onto the rack. Flip them right side up and let cool completely.
- While the cake is cooling, make the lemon buttercream icing. Whip the butter and lemon zest in an electric mixer until smooth and fluffy, then gradually add the sifted powdered sugar. When the powdered sugar has been incorporated, add the lemon juice.
- Now, make four layers out of your two cakes. It’s important that they are completely cool before you do this. With the palm of one hand pressed on top of a cake layer, cut each in half horizontally, using a long serrated knife. (Just take your time doing this, inspecting both the front and back of the cake as you go to be sure that the knife is going in and out evenly. Keeping pressure on top with your hand is key, and also using a thin knife like a ham knife.)
- Put one of the four cake layers on a serving plate, cut side up. With an offset spatula or a table knife, spread a generous 1/3 cup chilled lemon curd on top of the cake layer. Lay another cake layer on top, spread it with another generous 1/3 cup lemon curd, and repeat with the third cake layer, using the last 1/3 cup lemon curd. Top with the fourth cake layer.
- Spread lemon buttercream icing all over the outside of the cake. Decorate or garnish as you like.
Here is Fine Cooking’s recipe for Lemon Curd Cake Filling: http://www.finecooking.com/recipes/lemon-curd-cake-filling.aspx
This cake is lovely garnished with long curls of lemon zest and silver draggees, or with well-washed edible flowers such as snapdragons, violets or johnny-jump-ups.
Preparation time: 45 minute(s)
Cooking time: 40 minute(s)
Number of servings (yield): 12
MAKE AHEAD: This cake can be made ahead and stored chilled for up to two days. It is also nice to bake the cakes and make the lemon curd the day before, tightly wrap and chill them, and then the morning of your event you can make the icing and assemble the cake. Bring back to room temperature before serving.