Sorry I’ve been MIA lately guys, the holiday season is officially upon us and I am absolutely slammed. Between buying gifts, traveling and baking up a storm I have just been trying to catch my breath. Don’t get me wrong though, I love it. I know few people who love Christmas as much as I, and of those who do we are obviously BFFS for life. However, before we really get into all the decadence of Christmas let’s take some time and revel in all that was this baby shower Lemon cake I made for a great friend this past weekend. The cake topper was kind of everything.
Lemon cake is not often thought of but when done right, it really is one of my favorites. It’s light in a way only citrus cakes can be and let me tell you, you need more lemon curd in your life. When did we all stop eating lemon curd? It’s worth the 15 minutes you’ll spend over the stove, trust.
A couple things to help you out should you like to recreate the (insert shameless bragging) masterpiece you see in front of you. My absolute favorite sprinkles along with the most adorable cake topper are a click away from becoming yours. All the other items you see can be found of Etsy as well, of which I clearly went a bit overboard. But, all of those who know me can attest #moreismore…amiright?
For the Cake
3 cups cake flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 cup whole milk
For the Lemon Curd
3/4 cup fresh lemon juice
zest of 2 lemons
4 large egg yolks
1 large egg
1 cup granulated sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced
For the Buttercream
6 large egg whites
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 cups unsalted butter, softened
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
For the Cake
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 3 6-inch round cake pans and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Stir in the thyme and set aside.
In a small bowl, rub together the sugar and lemon zest until the zest begins to release its oils and the mixture is quite fragrant.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the butter on medium speed until smooth. Add in the lemon sugar. Continue to mix on medium-high until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 3 to 4 minutes.
With the mixer on low, add in the vanilla, whole eggs, and egg whites – one at a time.
Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.
Turn the mixer to low speed. In alternating batches (starting and ending with the dry ingredients), add in half of the flour mixture. Pour in the lemon juice and the milk and mix until combined. Add the remaining flour mixture. Mix on medium for no more than 20 to 30 seconds once the last bits of flour disappear.
Divide the batter between to two cake pans and bake for about 25 to 28 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool on a wire rack for 10 to 15 minutes before removing the cakes from their pans.
For the Lemon Curd
In a medium, nonreactive saucepan, bring the lemon juice to a simmer. Lower the heat and reduce down to 2/3 cups **
Meanwhile, put the butter in a heat-safe container and set aside.
Whisk together ½ cup lemon juice, lemon zest, egg yolks, whole egg, and sugar in the top portion of a double-boiler or a mixing bowl over a small saucepan of simmering water. Heat and stir the mixture until it registers about 180 degrees on a candy thermometer.
Using a mesh sieve, strain the mixture over the bowl containing the butter. Stir until fully incorporated.
Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the lemon curd and refrigerate until cool and thickened.
For the Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Place the egg whites and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer. Whisk to combine.
Fill a medium saucepan with a few inches of water and bring to a simmer. Place the mixing bowl on top of the saucepan to create a double-boiler.
While whisking, heat the egg mixture until it reaches about 155 to 160 degrees on a candy thermometer.
Once hot, carefully move the mixing bowl back to the mixer. Using the whisk attachment, beat the egg mixture on high until stiff peaks form and the outside of the mixing bowl returns to room temperature (about 8 to 10 minutes).
Turn the mixer to low, and begin adding in the softened butter, a few tablespoons at a time. Once the butter has been added and begins to incorporate, swap the whisk for the paddle attachment. Add in the vanilla. Turn the mixer up to medium-high and mix until silky smooth.
If the mixture looks curdled, just keep mixing. The butter was most likely too cold and will need more time to incorporate. If the mixture looks soupy, refrigerate it for about 15 minutes then mix again. The butter was most likely too warm.
Mix 1 cup lemon curd with 2 1/2 cups swiss meringue buttercream until silky smooth. Gently fold in the lemon curd until combined. Ice your cake layers and spoon leftover lemon curd between layers should you so please.
Crumb coat your cake with leftover vanilla swiss meringue buttercream and let chill for 20 minutes.
Ice your cake with it’s final layer of frosting and again, let chill for 20-30 minutes. If using sprinkles, press into cake layers.