Yesterday was my husband’s birthday and I always make him a yummy cake to help celebrate. He is a lover of everything lemon so this year I decided to make a cake using homemade lemon curd. I have used lemon curd before in cookies but never in a cake so I was a little nervous that it would make the cake too “lemony” but the delicate blend of airy cake and a whipped cream frosting gave it the perfect balance of lemon without sucking all the moisture out of your face! This cake was a big hit at his party last night and I will definitely be pulling this recipe out anytime I am in the mood to impress!
**This is not a recipe you can whip up in a hurry; you will need to leave time to let the cakes and the curd chill for at least an hour**
Lemon Chiffon Cake – Serves up to 12
Recipe courtesy of Cake Journal
- Measuring cups
- Measuring spoons
- Mixing bowls
- A hand or stand-up mixer
- Parchment paper
- Plastic wrap
- Zester or fine grater
- (3) 9” round cake pans
- Off-set spatula
- Medium saucepan
- Cake plate or stand
- Extra lemon for garnish
- 1 ¾ cups cake flour -OR- 1 cup all-purpose flour minus 2 Tablespoons
- 1 Tablespoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 ½ cups granulated sugar divided into 1 cup and a ½ cup
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- 6 large eggs, separate the whites from the yolks and set both aside
- ¾ cup cold water
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons lemon zest
- ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
- 2/3 cup lemon curd + 3 Tablespoons – recipe below
- 2 cups whipped lemon frosting – recipe below
- Preheat you oven to 350 degrees
- In a medium bowl, whisk together your 6 egg yolks, vegetable oil, lemon juice and zest and water
- In a (separate) large bowl, sift together your flour, baking powder, salt and 1 cup of sugar.
- Make a well in the center of you dry ingredients and pour in your wet ingredients – mix until smooth and set aside.
- In a mixing bowl, using an electric mixer beat the egg whites and cream of tartar until light and foamy. Slowly add your ½ cup of sugar and continue to beat until stiff peaks form – do not become dismayed, this takes a while (8-10 minutes).
- Stir in about 1/3 of your egg white mixture into the cake batter and mix well then gently fold in the rest – by folding the egg white mixture into the batter its consistency will stay light and airy.
- Prepare your cake pans by lining the bottoms with parchment paper, do not grease.
- Divide the batter evenly between the three pans – to get even division of the batter use a measuring cup and add one scoop to each pan then two scoops, etc. until the batter is gone.
- Bake for about 15 minutes. Insert a toothpick into the center, when it pulls out nearly clean the cakes are done – the cakes will continue to cook as they cool in the pan so if you wait to take them out until the toothpicks are completely dry you have over-baked them and your cake may be dry and crumbly. When you notice a small amount of moisture on the toothpick that is the perfect time to pull the cakes out of the oven (I always use this trick and my cakes are never dry) If you pull the toothpick out and it is still very wet then put the cake back in for 2 minute increments and make sure to check each cake separately because they may finish at different rates.
- Place the hot pans on a wire rack to cool. Once the pans are cool to the touch, run a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the cake, invert onto the wire rack, peel away the parchment paper and wait until the cakes are cool to the touch. Then transfer the cakes onto individual plates and put in the refrigerator to cool thoroughly (I found that the cakes were extremely sticky so I put them in the fridge to “cure”, this makes them much easier to work with without fear of tearing the cake).
***You will notice that your cakes may sink in the middle or pull away from the pan; this is considered to be a bad thing in baking. However, because we are frosting the cake with a cream based frosting rather than one that is sugar based you can easily disguise any flaws in the cake itself***
While your cakes are chilling this is the perfect time to make the lemon curd. I would also suggest at this point you place a medium mixing bowl and the whisk(s) of your mixer into the freezer to chill. You will get much better results with your whipped cream if your tools are cold.
Yes, you read that correct, it says “birday”. A sweet little joke my 9 year old cousin wanted to play on him; I couldn’t resist indulging her!
Lemon Curd – Makes 2 cups
Recipe courtesy of Better Homes & Gardens
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 Tablespoons corn starch
- 1 Tablespoon lemon zest
- 6 Tablespoons lemon juice
- 6 Tablespoons cold water
- 6 egg yolks, lightly beaten
- ½ cup (1 stick) of unsalted butter, cut up into chunks
- In a medium saucepan, stir together sugar and cornstarch.
- Stir in the lemon zest, lemon juice and water.
- Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened and bubbly (once it begins to take on the appearance of corn syrup it’s ready for the next step).
- Pour half of the lemon mixture into the bowl containing your egg yolks and mix, then pour back into the saucepan containing the other half of the lemon mixture.
- Cook and stir over medium heat until the mixture comes to a gentle boil – DO NOT walk away from the stove at this point, if you overcook the mixture you will get chunks of cooked egg yolk in your curd, no good.
- Cook and stir continuously for two minutes more, set a timer for this part.
- Remove from heat.
- Add the butter, stirring continuously until it melts.
- Pour mixture into a glass bowl and cover the surface with plastic wrap – literally touch the plastic wrap to the curd, this will keep a “skin” from forming as it cools.
- Chill for at least 1 hour
**Store any extra curd in an airtight jar and refrigerate for up to one week: enjoy on toast, pancakes, waffles, or French toast; top a sugar cookie or ice cream or just eat it by the spoonful! You can also freeze the extra lemon curd in a freezer safe jar for up to three months**
Whipped Lemon Frosting – Makes 4 cups
Recipe courtesy of Cake Journal
- 1 pint heaving whipping cream
- 4 Tablespoons granulated sugar
- 3 Tablespoons lemon curd
- In your chilled bowl whip the heavy cream and sugar until stiff peaks form
- Gently fold in lemon curd and combine well
- Cover and refrigerate until ready to frost cake
After everything has chilled for at least an hour (up to 12 hours) the fun part can begin! Assembling a layer cake can be quite simple if you follow a few tried-and-true tips and tricks to take the frustration out of the process…..
Cake Construction and Frosting Tools:
- One 10″ cake plate, stand, or decorative dinner plate
- Waxed paper cut into four thick strips
- Off-set spatula
- metal spoon
- Lemon zest, wedges, slices or candy
- Take your four strips of waxed paper and place around the outer edge of your chosen plate (this will keep the plate clean while you frost).
- Place the first cake face up onto center of your plate.
- Spoon a generous layer of lemon curd into the center of the cake and spread it out to the edges, add more as needed – repeat with the next layer but place it face down
- Place the top layer face up onto the cake and do your best to “level” it.
- Use your off-set spatula to spread the frosting in a thin layer all over the cake and chill for at least 20 minutes – this is known as a “crumb layer”. As you frost you will have little pieces of cake that will break loose and dirty your frosting. By adding a crumb layer you are locking those little pieces in so you can frost freely without worry – you will find this tip especially helpful when making a dark cake with light colored frosting.
- Once chilled, begin frosting the side of your cake first, take a generous heap of frosting and use the back of your spoon to spread it out in a sweeping motion. When using a whipped frosting it is best to embrace a messy looking cake, it will be nearly impossible to create a smooth layer so don’t even try. **As you frost make sure to turn your plate as you spread, NOT your hand.
- Once you have completed the sides, add a generous amount of frosting to the center of the cake and begin to spread it outwards by turning your plate.
- Add more frosting or take some away as you see fit. Here is where you can use the airy nature of the whipped frosting to camouflage a sunken center, if your cake has one. Once you are pleased with the look gently pull the waxed paper out from under the cake and admire your clean plate.
- Take a few fresh lemon wedges or slices to create a “bloom” in the center of your cake, you could also top it with lemon zest or thin twists, or for some added texture you can crush up lemon candy and sprinkle over the top!
- Keep you completed work of art in the refrigerator until ready to serve; when you are ready to cut the cake a good tip is to take a piece of string and mark the cake in half by holding the string taught and pushing it down into the frosting, then mark it into quarters, eighths, etc. until you have the right number of pieces (up to 12). Then cut through with a sharp knife. This trick will guarantee uniform slices.
**The wonderful thing about cake is how well it keeps. If you have leftover pieces that you know you won’t be able to finish, rather than throwing them out or giving them away, wrap each piece individually in saran wrap and then in tin foil. Put all of the individually wrapped pieces into a freezer bag and leave in the freezer for up to six months. If you decide that you want a piece of cake for dessert or you have some unexpected guests, pull out the desired number of pieces, unwrap them and let thaw on the counter for about 30 minutes.**
I have to disclose that I am not a baker, I bake twice a year (my husband’s birthday and for Christmas). But by having the proper equipment: mixers, measuring cups and spoons, and a well calibrated oven, by reading through the directions thoroughly before I begin, following them to a T, and by taking notes as I go my results have been consistently good. When it comes to baking don’t be afraid to fail. I had never made this recipe before but served it to a group of 9 anyway because “hey, why not?”. If you bake something and it turns out to be awful don’t just give up and exclaim that you “can’t bake”, instead, try again. You would be amazed at all the yummy things you can produce with a little precision and persistence! So if you have a birthday of your own to celebrate, have a special event coming up or are just in the mood to bake a beautifully luscious cake then I highly encourage you to give this recipe a try!
What are some of your favorite baking recipes? What tips and tricks can you share to take the “fear” out of baking?