This Lemon Layer Cake, with 4 vanilla layers topped with luscious lemon curd, and Swiss meringue buttercream, was the perfect birthday dessert for a lemon dessert lover!
One of my dear friends begged me (well, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration!) to bake a cake for her mom’s 90th birthday. The family matriarch wasn’t a huge chocolate fan, so we decided to celebrate her big day with spectacular a Lemon Cake.
Lemon Layer Cake
Gini was making dinner for her mom and siblings, who were traveling home from around the country for their mom’s birthday. Without spouses, there would be 12 in attendance. 11 children. Yes, this mother of 11 deserved a party and she wanted a lemon dessert! Gini is a wonderful cook and baker, but she had enough on her plate trying to plan the meal.
How to Make a Lemon Layer Cake with Lemon Curd
I was delighted to help celebrate this monumental birthday!
- I baked up a recipe for a two-layer vanilla cake, then sliced each cake in half horizontally to create 4 layers.
- Next I made enough lemon curd to top three of those layers. Made with fresh lemon juice, the tart curd contrasted deliciously with the sweet cake and frosting.
- A billowy Swiss meringue was whipped up with a touch of lemon to ice the cake. This lemon layer cake was a beauty!
Layers of cake and luscious lemon curd.
Gini’s snap of the half devoured lemon layer cake! It was a hit!
- 1 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin (I used Knox brand)
- 1 1⁄2 cups sugar
- 1⁄8 teaspoon salt
- 4 eggs
- 6 egg yolks, (reserve egg whites for cake)
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter cubes and frozen
- 2 1⁄4 cups cake flour
- 1 cup whole milk, room temperature
- 6 egg whites, room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 3⁄4 cups sugar
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, but still cool
Swiss Meringue Frosting
- 2 egg whites
- 1 cup sugar
- 1⁄4 cup water
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon corn syrup
- Filling: Measure 1 tablespoon lemon juice into a small bowl; sprinkle gelatin over the top.
- Heat remaining lemon juice, sugar, and salt in a saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally until sugar dissolves and mixture is hot, but not boiling.
- Whisk eggs and yolks in a large non-reactive bowl.
- Whisking constantly, slowly pour hot lemon-sugar mixture into eggs, then return mixture to saucepan.
- Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly until mixture reaches 170°, about 4-6 minutes.
- Immediately remove from heat and stir in gelatin mixture until dissolved. Stir in frozen butter until incorporated.
- Pour filling through a fine-meshed strainer into a bowl.
- Cover surface with plastic wrap; refrigerate until firm enough to spread, about 4 hours.
- Cake: Preheat oven to 350°.
- Grease and flour two 9-inch cake pans and line with parchment paper.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together whites and vanilla.
- In a mixer bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt; mix at slow speed.
- Add butter one piece at a time, continue to beat until mixture resembles moist crumbs and no visible butter chunks.
- Add all but 1 cup of milk mixture to crumbs and beat at medium speed until mixture is pale and fluffy, about 1 1/2 minutes.
- With mixer running, add remaining 1/2 cup milk mixture, beat 1 minute more.
- Divide batter evenly between cake pans.
- Bake 23-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center of cakes comes out clean.
- Cool cakes in pan 10 minutes then remove from pan onto greased wire rack, remove parchment paper, invert again and cool completely.
- Icing: Combine all ingredients in a mixer bowl or heatproof bowl.
- Set over medium saucepan filled with 1-inch of simmering water.
- Cook stirring constantly until mixture reaches 160°, 5-10 minutes.
- Transfer mixture to mixer bowl (if needed) and beat on medium speed until soft peaks form, about 5 minutes.
- Increase speed to medium-high and continue to beat until mixture has cooled to room temperature and stiff peaks form, about 5 minutes longer.
- Assembly: Cut each layer in half horizontally.
- Spread 1 cup of lemon filling evenly on each cake, leaving a 1/2-inch border around cake.
- Place top layer on cakes, smooth out any filling that may have leaked from the layers.
- Refrigerate while you make the icing.
- Spread icing on cake.
Adapted from Southern Living