Lemon desserts evoke thoughts of sunshine and are perfect for springtime and Easter. This luscious Lemon Layer Cake with Lemon Curd Filling is definitely a special occasion dessert!
This exquisite Lemon Cake Recipe is made for lemon lovers! It takes some effort but is worth every minute!
Lemon Layer Cake with Lemon Curd Filling
One of my dear friends was celebrating a monumental birthday, so we planned a luncheon for her special day. I volunteered to bake the party cake, of course. I knew she adored lemon and I sent her a text to double-check if coconut was a yea or nay. Susan confirmed her affinity for coconut and that sealed the deal. I planned to make a multi-layered show stopper, with a lemon kissed cake, lemon Swiss meringue buttercream, and lemon curd!
Lemon Cake with Lemon Curd
This cake with lemon curd is an adaptation of Dorie Greenspan’s Perfect Party Cake. I upped the lemon ante by swapping lemon curd for the raspberry preserves Dorie tucked between her layers.
How to Slice Cake Layers in Half
This is one of those recipes you might want to make in steps. If you haven’t sliced cake layers in half horizontally, it’s a little daunting.
- My PRO-Tip is to place toothpicks around the perimeter of the cake, just below the mid-line, to give you some guidance as you make your cuts.
- I use a long serrated knife and work my way around the edge with shallow cuts before slicing my way through to the center.
- You want to aim for 4 slices of approximately the same thickness, so take your time placing your toothpicks and slicing each cake. But this will still be a wonderful cake no matter how you slice it!
- Note: a savvy reader said he was going to use 4 cake pans to make 4 distinct layers instead of dealing with the slicing. It could work if you decrease the baking time (and even the temp by 25 degrees so it doesn’t get too dark). Let me know if you try his idea!
Tips for Making Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting
Swiss meringue buttercream may appear difficult, but if you take the time and follow the instructions, you’ll understand why this velvety frosting is my very favorite and worth the effort!
- Besides the typical American buttercream frosting, there is also Swiss, French and Italian buttercream. If I’m not going with the usual butter and powdered sugar version that’s popular in the states, I make a Swiss Meringue Buttercream.
- There is much less sugar in a Swiss Meringue Buttercream, and all the European buttercreams use eggs.
- This meringue uses egg whites, but don’t worry, they are safe to eat. They are gently heated over simmering water for 3 minutes, long enough to kill any salmonella bacteria. Use your instant read thermometer, if desired, to make sure the mixture reaches 160º.
- The mixture of sugar and eggs must be whisked constantly during this process so they do not cook, but stay liquid.
- Next, you whip this mixture in your stand mixer until cooled, which will take 10 or more minutes, so be patient. Keep feeling the sides of the bowl as if it’s warm when you add the butter, your frosting will not whip properly.
- Add your butter one tablespoon at a time, using the paddle attachment, and don’t fret if it doesn’t look perfect. You will continue adding the butter then whip the mixture on high for 6-10 minutes until your frosting is fluffy!
Lemon Layer Cake Verdict
There was loads of praise from the party attendees, one of whom even said this cake with lemon curd was the best thing I’ve ever made. I had a captive audience as I explained my horizontal cutting technique to make the thinner layers and the process of making a velvety Swiss meringue buttercream, which by the way, spreads and cuts like a dream! If you have a lemon lover in your life, save this lemon cake for a special occasion!
More Lemon Recipes You’ll Love:
- Coconut Lemon Pudding Parfaits from Taste and Tell
- Outrageous Lemon Lover’s Trifle from Melissa’s Southern Style Kitchen
- Lemon Crumble Breakfast Cake from Saving Room for Dessert
- The Best Lemon Bars Recipe
- Lemon Meringue Pie
- Strawberry Lemon Tart
- More of the Best Dessert Recipes
This Lemon Cake recipe was first shared in April 2017. The text was updated in 2020.
For Lemon Cake:
- 2 1/4 cups cake flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon table salt
- 1 1/4 cups buttermilk
- 4 egg whites, at room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
- 1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/2 teaspoon pure lemon extract, I use Penzey's brand
For the Buttercream:
- 1 cup sugar
- 4 egg whites
- 3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/8 teaspoon table salt
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 11-ounce jar of good quality lemon curd
- 2 cups sweetened shredded coconut
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 9-inch cake pans with non-stick flour and oil baking spray (like Baker's Joy) and line the bottom of each pan with parchment. Spray the top of the parchment as well.
- To make cake, first whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Whisk together the milk and egg whites in another bowl. Put the sugar and lemon zest in your mixer bowl and rub the zest into the sugar until the sugar becomes moist and fragrant. Add the butter and beat at medium speed until the butter and sugar are very light, about 3 minutes. Mix in the extract, then add one third of the flour mixture and mix until combined, then half the milk-egg mixture until incorporated, another third of the flour mixture, the rest of the milk-egg mixture, and finally the last of the flour. Scrape the bowl as needed and make sure ingredients are incorporated as you alternate. Beat for another 2 minutes.
- Divide the batter between the two pans and smooth the tops with an offset spatula. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the middle of the cake spring back after being touched. Remove the cakes to cooling racks. Let cool for 5 minutes before removing from the pans. Remove the parchment from the cakes, then let finish cooling top side up.
- To make the buttercream, place the sugar and egg whites in a heat safe mixer bowl over a pot of simmering water. Whisk the mixture continuously until it becomes hot to the touch and the sugar is dissolved, about 3 full minutes. Carefully remove the bowl from the heat and beat on high for about 5 minutes, or until the meringue has cooled (I recommend using a stand mixer if you have one). Using the paddle attachment mix in the butter a stick at a time, beating until smooth. Once all the butter is in, beat in the mixture on high speed until it is thick and very smooth, 6-10 minutes. Decrease the speed to medium and gradually beat in the lemon juice, waiting until each addition is absorbed before adding more. Mix in vanilla. Set aside while preparing the cakes.
- To assemble, slice each layer horizontally in half. I place toothpicks around the perimeter of the cake a little below where I want to slice. This helps guide my serrated knife as I saw through the layers.
- Place one layer, cut side up on your serving dish. Spread it with one third of the lemon curd, about ⅓ cup. Spread about ¼ of the buttercream over the lemon curd, repeat two more times, then top with the final layer of cake with the baked side up. Use the rest of the buttercream to frost the top and sides of the cake. Press the coconut over the frosted surfaces.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 343Total Fat: 9gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 34mgSodium: 326mgCarbohydrates: 62gFiber: 1gSugar: 44gProtein: 5g