Pucker up buttercup! Appropriate since it’s spring right? The time for buttercups, or at least flowers. I cannot say how lovely it is that things are alive and colourful. I always think of the ugly drab brownness that is March. Also the time for puckering up: spring fever and that old chestnut. It’s a time to shed winter wear, go from stews to soups and pucker up-in more ways than one.
Remember when I said I didn’t like citrus desserts? Well I’ve slowly been crawling towards these tart and tasty treats. Consider this recipe the sprint stage of my puckering journey. This cake is the mother-load of lemon desserts. It is not one, or two but three layers of dense, lightly lemony pound cake. Sandwiched between this is a smooth and tangy lemon curd, all dressed in even more lemo-fied butter cream. For someone that didn’t think she liked lemon, I have to say “What was I thinking??”
Just so you don’t make the same mistake I did, I’d advice reading the ingredient list and potentially stocking up before you make this. (Father’s Day is coming up!) By some miracle I had everything except sour cream (why I had 3 cups of butter, 6 lemons and 2 dozen eggs is beyond me). It takes time since there are 3 components that all need your attention and patience. I’d recommend making each thing on the days leading up to it’s big reveal, noting that it can keep in the refrigerator for a good 2-3 days without any taste compromise.
So whether you’re having a spring party (buttercups/flowers/outside) or puckering up (date/you used too much lemon, it’s way too sour) this cake will leave your diners asking for more. Just don’t tell them how much butter is in it when you offer them the second slice.
Triple Lemon Cake
Yield: 1 (8-inch) cake
From Baked Cookbook
For the Lemon Cake Layers
- 2 ½ cups cake flour
- ¾ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
- ½ cup vegetable shortening, at room temperature
- 1 ¾ cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- Grated zest of one lemon
- 1 large egg
- 1 ½ cups ice cold water
- 3 large egg whites, at room temperature
- ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
For the Lemon Curd Filling
- 3/4 cup fresh lemon juice (from about 6 lemons)
- Grated Zest of 2 lemons
- 2 large eggs
- 7 large egg yolks
- ¾ cup sugar
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, at room temperature
For the Lemon Frosting
- 1 ½ cups sugar
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ cups milk
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
- 1 ½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, soft but cool, cut into small pieces
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ½ cup lemon curd
Make the Lemon Cake Layers
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Butter three 8-inch round cake pans, line the bottoms with parchment, and butter the parchment. Dust with flour, and knock out the excess flour.
- In a large bowl, sift the flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together. Set aside.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and shortening on medium speed until creamy, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the sugar, vanilla, and lemon zest and beat on medium speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, and the egg, and beat until just combined. Reduce speed to low. Add the flour mixture, alternating with the ice water, in three separate additions, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Scrape down the bowl, then mix on low speed for a few more seconds.
- In a clean bowl, whisk the egg whites and cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Do not overbeat. Gently fold the egg whites into the batter.
- Divide the batter among the prepared pans and smooth the tops. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through the baking time, until a toothpick inserted in the center of each cake comes out clean. Transfer the cakes to a wire rack and let cool for 20 minutes. Invert the cakes onto the rack, remove the pans, and let cool completely. Remove the parchment.
Make the Lemon Curd Filling
- In a small bowl, pour the lemon juice over the lemon zest and let stand for 10 minutes to soften the zest.
- In a nonreactive bowl whisk the eggs, egg yolks, and sugar until just combined. Add the lemon zest and lemon juice to the egg mixture and whisk until just combined.
- Place your bowl containing the egg mixture over a double boiler. Continuously stir the mixture with a heatproof spatula until the mixture has thickened to a pudding-like texture, about 6 minutes.
- Remove the bowl from the heat and whisk in the butter until emulsified. Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve. Take a sheet of plastic wrap and press it into the mixture and around the bowl so that the curd does not form a skin.
- Set the lemon curd aside while you make the frosting. Do not refrigerate the curd unless you are saving it for future use.
Make the Lemon Frosting
- In a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk the sugar and flour together. Add the milk and cream and cook over medium heat, whisking occasionally, until the mixture comes to a boil and has thickened, about 20 minutes. Surprise, you just made pudding!
- Transfer the mixture to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on high speed until cool. Reduce the speed to low and add the butter; mix until thoroughly incorporated. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until the frosting is light and fluffy.
- Add the vanilla extract and ½ cup of the freshly made lemon curd and continue mixing until combined. If the frosting is too soft, put it in the refrigerator to chill slightly then mix again until it is the proper consistency. If the frosting is too firm place the bowl over a pot of simmering water and beat with a wooden spoon until it is the proper consistency.
Assemble the Cake
- Refrigerate the frosting for a few minutes (but not more) until it can hold its shape. Place one cake layer on a serving platter.
- Trim the top to create a flat surface. Poke holes into the cake so the curd doesn’t ooze out between the layers.
- Evenly spread about 1 cup of the remaining lemon curd on top. Add the next layer, trim, and fill with 1 cup of the remaining lemon curd, then add the third layer and trim.
- Crumb coat the cake and refrigerate for about 15 minutes. Frost the sides and top of the cake with the frosting and refrigerate for 15 minutes to firm up the finished cake.
Because there is lemon curd in the cake, it needs to be refrigerated, it tastes best served at room temperature however so you can leave it out for up to 2 hours in that case.