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Apr 28, 2008 05:24 PM

Two great frosting recipes needed please. Maybe a lemon cake too...?

Longish...My daughter's eight birthday is next week and she has two requests - a dense and moist lemon cake for her at home birthday cake and great vanilla cupcakes for school. She wants half of the cupcakes iced with orange frosting and the others with chocolate.

My daughter loves Starbucks iced lemon loaf cake and that is what inspired her desire for the birthday cake - so the richer and denser and more pound cake-ish the better. I'm a very good cook/decent baker but don't bake enough to know what factors make a cake super dense and moist and rich. I have a great Red Velvet recipe that is very moist and it's a buttermilk cake made with self rising flour. Do I need a recipe with those two ingredients to get an extremely moist cake? Should I google for that? Also, I did find a triple lemon layer cake recipe here posted by Becca. It seems it could fit the bill very well. Does anyone including Becca have thoughts on whether this might work for my daughter's request?

Now for the first part of my inquiry - the two cupcake frostings. They need to be frostings not icings/glazes. Does anyone have tried and true great but not super labor intensive orange and/or chocolate frosting recipes? I may decide to use the ganache frosting from a fabulous epicurious chocolate cake I made for her birthday last year so most urgent is the orange. Obviously if anyone has a great lemon recipe or similar I can change that up for the orange.

Helpful suggestions will be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance!

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  1. Cakes made with buttermilk and/or sour cream tend to be moister and denser than those with just a creamed-butter base. This is my standby lemon loaf recipe--not sure if it'll work for a layer cake, though:

    5 Tbsp butter
    1 c sugar
    2 eggs
    1 tsp vanilla
    1/3 c sour cream
    1 1/2 c flour
    1 tsp baking powder
    rind of one lemon

    Cream the butter and sugar; add the vanilla and sour cream. Sift the dry stuff and add it to the butter. Stir in the lemon rind last. Turn into a greased 9x5 and bake at 350 for 45 - 50 min.

    1/2 c sugar
    juice of one lemon

    Heat these in a small pan till the sugar dissolves. When the cake comes out of the oven, use a long skewer to poke holes all the way to the bottom, then pour the glaze over the cake.

    Here's a phenomenal chocolate frosting recipe, really silky and deeply flavored, that I pinched from Cook's Illustrated:

    20 Tbsp (2 1/2 sticks) butter, room temp
    1 c powdered sugar
    3/4 c cocoa
    3/4 c light corn syrup
    8 oz melted and cooled chocolate (any kind except unsweetened)

    Put the butter, sugar, cocoa, and corn syrup into the bowl of a food processor and buzz till combined. Scrape down the sides and add the chocolate and process again. Makes enough to very generously frost a layer cake or 24 cupcakes.

    1. Here is my tried and true lemon cake recipe. It has a glaze that you put on as soonas it comes out of the oven, but I suppose you could frost over it as well; I just never have. Trust me - this is a spectacular moist, dense cake.


      Heat oven to 325F
      Grease and flour a 10 inch tube or bundt pan

      3 cups all purpose flour
      ½ tsp baking powder
      ¼ tsp baking soda
      ½ tsp salt
      Zest or grated rind from two lemons

      I cup unsalted butter, room temp
      3 cups granulated sugar
      2 tsp. vanilla
      6 eggs, room temperature
      1 cup sour cream, room temp

      Sift together the dry ingredients, including the lemon zest
      Cream the butter and sugar for three minutes, then add the eggs, beating after each addition.
      Add vanilla.
      Add the dry ingredients and sour cream alternately, starting with 1/3 of the flour mixture, followed by ½ sour cream, etc., ending with flour mixture. Beat until smooth, scraping sides of bowl often.

      Bake at 325F in a greased and floured 10-inch tube/bundt pan for about an hour.
      While cake is baking, make GLAZE by combining one cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, zest of one lemon, ¼ cup water and 2/3 cup sugar. Bring to a boil and simmer until it is reduced to about ½ cup.

      When cake tests done, let it rest in the pan for about 10 minutes, then brush ½ of the glaze on the cake. Turn onto rack and brush remaining syrup on cake.

      1. The Meyer Lemon Cake from Chez Panisse Cooking is great (and you can substitute regular lemons if meyers are not available). It's a single 10-inch cake made with buttermilk, meyer lemon juice, cake flour etc., and a meyer lemon glaze that is slowly poured onto the cake when it's warm, not all at once but as the cake absorbs the glaze. The glaze seeps into the cake (you poke random holes all over with a skewer or toothpick-holes not visible once done), and creates a dense, lemony cake that is to die for.

        3 Replies
        1. re: janniecooks

          Janniecooks, would you be so kind as to share the recipe? I have a supply of Meyer lemons and this cake sounds wonderful.

          1. re: GSDlove

            The recipe can be found using this link:


            This site's recipe differs from the one in Chez Panisse Cooking by the inclusion of candied lemon slices on top of the cake. Note that the photo at the top of the recipe is misleading - the glaze completely soaks into the cake and does not appear as a white draped glaze as in the photo.


            1. re: janniecooks

              Thank you SO much - I can't wait to try it.

        2. For something similar to the Starbucks poundcake, you can make candied lemons and add that to the cake. I like this recipe for a lemon poundcake (can be made in different shapes). For the simple syrup that is poured over it, I use the leftover syrup from making candied lemons.

          For good, easy chocolate frostings, my two go-to are either Rose Levy Berenbaum's milk chocolate buttercream:

          1 lb milk chocolate, in pieces
          8 oz dark chocolate, preferably extra bittersweet or bittersweet (you really need this to cut the sweetness), in pieces
          1 1/2 c. butter, softened

          Melt chocolate over heat in double boiler, removing if bowl gets too hot. Stir until smooth, cool until no longer warm to touch. In a bowl, beat butter at medium speed and slowly add cooled chocolate.

          Or, a chocolate sour cream frosting (much better than you'd think):

          A good orange frosting is this orange cream cheese frosting:

          1. there is a great blueberry lemon pound cake in this thread