Lemon Birthday Cake

Posted by Pussycat in Sweets | Leave a comment


My youngest daughter’s birthday fell somewhere in the crazy move out and move in and so we didn’t celebrate it the way we would have, with a nice dinner and cake.  I promised her a meal of her choice and the days kept getting away from us.  So finally, now, here it is, her birthday cake.  It was her choice, one of a bunch I found on CHOW.  White Cake with Lemon-Lime Curd Filling and Whipped Cream Frosting.  YUM!  I was a bit nervous about how it would turn out, having to fold whipped egg whites into the pretty thick batter, but amazingly it turned out moist and light and very delicious.

1shelby's lemon cake

You can go to CHOW to check out the recipe, or you can see below.  I’m writing it out here just so that I can find it the next time I want to make it.  This is one of those that will be made again and again since we loved the nice and tart curd for the filling.  A yummy and impressive 4 layer cake.

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Make the Lemon-Lime Curd ahead of time – I made it the night before.

  • 12 large egg yolks (save 6 of the whites for the cake)
  • 1 1/2 Cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 Cup finely grated lemon zest (from about 8 lemons)
  • 2/3 Cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (from about 8 medium lemons)
  • 1/4 Cup finely grated lime zest (from about 6 limes)
  • 1/3 Cup freshly squeezed lime juice (from about 6 limes)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 2 1/4 sticks of butter

In a double boiler place all of the ingredients except the butter in the top of the double boiler and heat up slowly until it’s about the consistency of mayonnaise then add butter small piece by small piece whisking the first chunk before adding more and continuing until all is incorporated.  The cover the top with saran wrap and chill.  The saran keeps the air from getting to the curd and keeps the curd from getting a dry layer that you’d have to scrap off and throw away.  Reserve.

For the Candied Zest (optional but beautiful and amazingly good)  This is something I’ve made before following different recipes but I have to say that this is the first time it’s been so good that people actually commented and tried to steal from the cake!

  • 3 medium lemons
  • 3 medium limes
  • 2 1/2 Cups Sugar
  • 1 1/2 Cup water (or more if needed

Using a vegetable peeler or zester remove the zest from the lemons and limes and slice until very very thin.  Place the zest into a small saucepan and add water and add enough water to cover by about 1 inch.  Bring to a boil and then drain through a strainer and drain the water.  Then place 1 1/2 cups of the sugar and the water in the same saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat and boil until the sugar is dissolved then add in the strained zest.  Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer until the zest is translucent, about 30 minutes.  Pour the mixture through the strainer again.  In a medium bowl and working in small batches toss the warm zest in the sugar.  Shake off the excess sugar and place the sugared zest onto a baking pan in a single layer and let it dry.  Once cooled and dry the candied zest can be covered in plastic wrap and stores at room temperature for up to 5 days.

1shelby's lemon cake-2

 For the Cake

  • 2 Cups cake flour (and a little more to coat the pan)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks) at room temperature (plus more to coat the pan)
  • 1 teaspoon of finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon of finely grated lime zest
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup of whole milk (at room temperature)
  • 6 large egg whites, at room temperature

Heat the oven to 350 degrees and arrange the rack in the middle. Coat 2 (8 inch) cake pans with butter and then flour and tap off any excess.  Whisk the measured flour, baking powder and salt together in a medium bowl and set aside.

Place 1 1/4 cups of the sugar and the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitter with a paddle attachment and beat on medium speed until the mixture is airy and light in color, about 5 minutes.  Add the zest and vanilla and mix until incorporated, about 30 seconds.  Stop the mixer and scrape down the paddle and the sides of the bowl.

1shelby's lemon cake-4

Add a third of the reserved flour mixture and turn the mixer to low speed, mixing until the flour is just incorporated, add half the milk and mix until incorporated and continue until all the flour and milk have been incorporated and smooth and transfer the mixture into a large bowl.  wash and dry the bowl of the stand mixer and place the egg whites in the bowl.  Attache the whisk attachment and whist the egg whites on high speed until medium peaks form, about 1 minute.  Add the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and continue whisking until stiff, glossy and peaks form, about 45 seconds to 1 minute.

Using a rubber spatula, fold a quarter of the egg whites into the cake batter until evenly incorporated, gently fold in the remaining egg whites until just combined and no pockets of white remain.

Divide the batter between the prepared cake pans and spread into an even layer.  Bake until the surface of the cakes spring back when pressed and a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the centre comes out clean, about 30 minutes.  Let the cakes cook about 10 minutes and then flip onto a rack to cook completely about an hour.   By letting the cakes cool for a bit you’ll find that they will shrink a bit – actually just enough for the sides to come from the pan.

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Once the cakes are cooled, using a serrated knife, cut the cakes in half to create 4 layers.  Layer the cakes on top of each other and smooth the lemon-lime curd in-between the layers, about 1 cup per layer.  Leave about 1/2 inch around the edges empty as when you put the next layers on they will push the curd to the edges.  Layer the cakes until all layers have curd between them.  Place in the fridge to cool for 30 minutes to an hour.


  • 2 Cups cold heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

When ready to frost the cake, put the bowl and whisk into the freezer for about 10 minutes and then add all the frosting ingredients and whisk on hight speed until medium peaks form.  About 1 to 1 1/2 minutes.  Using a clean long knife or offset spatual , coat the top and sides of the cake with the whipped cream frosting a nice smooth layer.  Decorate the cake with the candied zest, placing some on top and carefully pressing an edge along the bottom of the cake.  Serve immediately.

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