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Mar 1, 2007 08:17 PM

Best Lemon Layer Cake recipe?

In search of recipe for birthday cake for a good friend... I had actually made her one four years ago that she loved but for the life of me cannot remember which recipe I used.

Anyone have a favorite out there?

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  1. I LOVE lemon layer cake! It's my request for my birthday every year, so my husband has learned to bake (poor man!) since it's not exactly something you can buy in stores. This year's was a recipe he found on FoodTV's site - we all declared it a "keeper" - My favorite recipe is much denser, the same "lemony goodness" as the FTV recipe, just really dense. I'll find the recipe if you like.

    3 Replies
    1. re: odkaty

      Please do post the dense recipe too!

      1. re: celeste

        Sorry! I'm slow! Here's the recipe:

        Lemon Layer Cake

        2.5 cups sifted flour
        2 tsp. baking powder
        .25 tsp. baking soda
        .25 tsp. salt (optional)
        8 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
        2 tsp. lemon zest
        1.25 cups sugar
        2 large eggs
        .5 cup milk
        .5 cup lemon juice

        Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Flour, line and grease 2 8-inch round cake pans.

        Combine sifted flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. In a large mixing bowl combine butter and lemon zest and beat until fluffy. Gradually beat in sugar (the slower, the better) until completely combined. Add eggs one at a time, then beat 2 to 3 minutes until the batter is light and fluffy.

        Beat .25 of dry ingredients into the wet batter, and then add all of the milk. Beat until combined. Add the remaining dry ingredients, alternating with lemon juice, beginning and ending with the dry.

        Divide batter between the two cake pans and smooth with spatula.

        Place pans on the middle rack in oven. Bake for 25 minutes or until the top springs back when lightly touched. Cool in pans on rack for 10 minutes.

        Apply lemon butter cream frosting, using .5 cup for the filling (I like to use raspberry jam instead), and the remaining 2 cups for frosting. Serve at room temperature.


        Lemon Butter Cream Frosting

        3 large egg whites
        1 cup sugar
        1 cup butter at room temperature
        1 tbsp. lemon zest
        .3 cup lemon juice

        In a stainless steel double boiler over simmering water combine sugar and egg whites. Whisk until just warm and dissolved (don’t scramble the eggs!). Remove from heat and beat with an upright mixer until stiff peaks form. If separation occurs, continue beating on high, or cool to room temperature.

        Once the mixture reaches room temperature add butter one tablespoon at a time, beating until smooth. Add lemon zest and continue beating at medium speed. Add lemon juice and beat on high until smooth.

        1. re: odkaty

          DH wants a lemon birthday cake... this looks like it will fit the bill nicely.

    2. This is THE best. I just tried CI's new one and it didn't touch this one.

      Triple-Lemon Layer Cake
      Adapted from Fine Cooking

      For the Cake:
      9 1/4 ounces (2 1/3 cups) cake flour;
      more for the pans
      2 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
      1/4 teaspoon table salt
      1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
      2 tablespoons lightly packed finely
      grated lemon zest
      6 ounces (3/4 cup) unsalted butter
      completely softened
      1 cup whole milk
      room temperature
      5 large egg whites
      room temperature
      1/4 teaspoon creme of tarter

      For the Filling*-

      3 ounces unsalted butter
      room temperature
      1 cup sugar
      2 large eggs
      2 large egg yolks
      2/3 cup fresh lemon juice
      1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

      For the Frosting-
      8 ounces (1 cup) unsalted butter,
      completely softened
      2 tablespoon lightly packed finely
      grated lemon zest
      3 ½ cups sifted confectioners sugar
      3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

      Make the lemon curd first so it can chill.
      *This lemon curd is actually from an earlier Fine Cooking. It is in first
      place in e-gullets lemon curd bake-off.
      I like to use my mixer bowl as a double boiler when making it. That way when its done I can put it back on my mixer and whip it until cool. I think it gives it a creamier , fluffier, texture.
      Don’t omit the unusual creaming of ingredients at the beginning. Fine Cooking found it eliminated the curdled bits of egg you usually have to strain out.

      Beat the butter with the sugar until it’s light and fluffy. Slowly beat in the eggs and yolks. Beat for 1 minute more, then stir in the lemon juice. The mixture will look curdled. Do not panic.

      Cook the mixture over low heat until it becomes smooth, then increase the heat to medium and cook, stirring constantly, without letting it boil, until it thickens enough to leave a path on the back of the spoon when you drag your finger through it. If you want to go by temperature, you’re looking for 170 F.

      Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon zest. Press plastic wrap on surface to prevent a skin from forming and chill in the refrigerate.

      Make the Cake:

      Place a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Butter and flour two 8 by 2 inch round cake pans. Sift the cake flour, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl. Pulse 1/4 cup of the sugar with the zest in a food processor until well combined.
      In a large bowl, beat the butter and lemon sugar with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy (about 1 ½ minutes). Add the remaining sugar and beat until smooth (about 1 ½ minutes). Beat in a quarter of the milk just until blended. On low speed, add the flour mixture alternatively with the milk in three batches, scraping the bowl with a rubber spatula; beat just until blended.
      In another bowl, beat the egg whites with an electric mixer (with clean beaters or a whisk attachment) on medium speed just until foamy. Add the creme of tarter, increase the speed to medium high, and beat until the whites form stiff peaks when the beaters are lifted. Add a quarter of the whites to the batter and gently fold them in with a rubber spatula; continue to gently fold tin the whites, a quarter at a time , being careful not to deflate the mixture.
      Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. Smooth the tops with a spatula. Bake until a pick inserted in the centers comes out clean, about 35-40 minutes. Let cool in the pans 10 minutes. Run a table knife along the sides of the pans and carefully invert each cake out onto the rack. Flip them right side up and let them cool completely.
      With the palm of one hand pressed on top of a cake layer, cut each in half horizontally, using a long serrated knife. Put one of the cake layers on a serving plate, cut side up. With an offset spatula or a table knife, spread a generous 1/3 a cup on top of the cake layer. Lay another cake layer on top, spread it with another generous 1/3 a cup, and repeat with third cake layer. (You will have extra curd, enjoy!) Top with the fourth cake layer.

      Make the Frosting:

      In a medium bowl, beat the butter and lemon zest with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the confectioners sugar in batches and beat until light and fluffy. Add the lemon juice and beat for one minute. (You can make the frosting a couple of hours early and keep it, covered, at cool room temperature.)

      Frost the Cake:

      Up to a few hours ahead, spread a thin layer of frosting on the cake, filling in any gaps as you go. Chill until the frosting firms up a bit, about ½ hour. Spread the remaining frosting decoratively over the top and sides of cake. Scatter with bits of lemon zest and silver dragees, or garnish as you like.

      10 Replies
      1. re: Becca Porter

        Hi Becca, thanks for the recipe. Since I was thinking of making CI's cake soon, can you sum up what makes the above one better to you? Thanks!

        1. re: Becca Porter

          Thanks for this recipe! I saw the CI cake online last night.... it looks very light and fluffy but kind of light on lemon. I'm looking for LEMON flavor and from reading that recipe it didn't seem to fit the bill. This Fine Cooking recipe looks pretty good. Is the icing very lemony? Do you think the cake part would go well with a lemon cream cheese frosting?

          I'm starting to think that the recipe I used four years ago was a Gourmet lemon layer cake recipe, then I filled it with lemon curd and lemon cream cheese frosting on top. Or something. It's really driving me crazy, especially since my friend, a cook herself, says it's the best birthday cake she ever had. Sigh.

          1. re: celeste

            I love the frosting the way it is. It is equally lemony/buttery. I am sure it wouldn't be bad though. This cake just rocks....

            1. re: celeste

              Since has a lot of magazine receipes have you searched for it here:?


            2. re: Becca Porter

              Hi Becca,
              I made this cake last night but haven't assembled it yet. So far it looks amazing! The cakes smell wonderfully lemony and the curd is delicious and I keep tasting. My question - have you ever made this using a sugar syrup glaze to brush on the cakes before you ice the cake? So many layer cakes seem to suggest brushing with a syrup before icing.

              1. re: sarah galvin

                The main reason to use a glaze for layer cakes is to add back lost moisture if the layers are stored for a long time in a freezer, which slowly dries them out over time. Also, if the cake is freshly baked, it wil usually be too fragile to handle added moisture as you assemble the layers.

              2. re: Becca Porter

                I'm making the filling and frosting from this recipe but I don't have time to whip egg whites etc, so I'm just using my regular white cake recipe as a base... we're going to take the cake to church to share with everyone so I'm making it in an 8-1/2x11 pan instead of a round one (I don't actually HAVE any round layer cake pans!) I'll let you know how it works out tomorrow...

                1. re: Becca Porter

                  Becca, I read this recipe earlier and got a bug to make it. The cakes are cooling and waiting to be carved up and slathered. They are lovely and smell like heaven. I made gingerbread anticipating leftover curd. Thank you for the inspiration and recipe! The curd was easy and it is SO GOOD!

                  1. re: Sal Vanilla

                    I made the curd on saturday night. It was a lot easier than I thought it would be, especially using my hand mixer to fluff it up. Only it was rather runny when it was done and the cake tried to fall apart in transport! I had to push the top layer back onto it when we got to church (ooops!) That was probably my fault because I didn't have the time to put it in the fridge for hours - it was only refrigerated for about thirty minutes between decorating and transport, and it was too big to fit in the church refrigerator so it sat out there too!
                    Everyone oohed and aahed over it even though it was very messy and falling apart... I put strawberry jam and fresh strawberries in the center layer, and it was delicious! I thought we'd be bringing half the cake home but it was almost entirely demolished... I wouldn't have been able to bring ANY home if I hadn't put a couple of slices aside for DH. :)
                    So in summary, it was great but it really needs time to set up. The leftover pieces are much better today than they were yesterday morning because they've soaked up the filling and they're more stuck together.

                  2. re: Becca Porter

                    Hi Becca, just to say I made this last night and assembled this morning. I did chill the layers once I'd built the cake, and also did the crumb coat, but unfortunately the top half slid in the car. Didn't take too much repair work but just a warning to others - make sure you chill the cake well, or else stick a dowel in the middle that you can remove on cutting to prevent this problem.

                    Also, as I have made a LOT of lemon wedding cakes using buttercream, I now have a real aversion to the stuff. All that icing sugar and the smell turns my stomach. I made the Lemon Drop Icing from the Baked cookbook and I was very happy with it. It uses a little of the lemon curd. If making again I would slightly reduce the amount of sugar. Also, it can look a little curdled in the bowl, but if you use a palette knife dipped in hot water to finish your cake, this will smooth things out perfectly. Water needs to be very hot, add dry the knife before you begin to work.

                    I decorated using dots of lemon curd which looked cute and kept the lemon theme going.

                    The cake tasted delicious, the crumb itself has a great lemon flavour (I used heaped spoons) and has an open texture rather than a tight, pound-cake crumb. I would make the curd slightly more tart next time. I also added a tsp of cornstarch to mine to stabilise it, and I'd add 2 tsp next time as it's quite runny.

                    Altogether, although I offer a few minor tweaks, this cake was really well received and I would make it again.

                  3. Well, the CI's recipe only has noticeable lemon flavor in the curd, where the Fine Cooking has it in every componant. I also thought that the buttery frosting on the FC blended better with the lemon. The curd itself in the FC recipe is also much better tasting and creamier. The CI had a metallic flavor, (I didn't use anything reactive while making it.)

                    1. wow, you guys are all making my mouth water. I was thinking of baking a cake for my birthday this year and I love lemons. I never heard of this layered cake. Are there any links to photos so I can start dreaming about it? :)

                      1 Reply
                      1. My mom makes this White Chocolate Cake with Lemon Curd Filling recipe and it is spectacular. The cake is a bit sweet and the curd tart. It's a great combination.


                        1 Reply
                        1. re: QueenB

                          Ooh, that sounds like a delightful combination. Thanks for sharing!