Yesterday, sweet mister and I went to our first neighborhood association meeting. It felt very much like a scene from Napoleon Dynamite and I loved every minute of it. We learned about various wild animals roaming the area, like armadillos, packs of coyotes, hawks and supposedly a lone bobcat. One man claimed he saw a black panther and at that point I just had to laugh. Who knew these wild creatures lived in Nashville? I thought they were keen on the West and only existed in movies like Homeward Bound.
I guess I’ll find out shortly, because it’s moving week!! And while I’ll be unpacking and eating frozen pizza over Easter weekend, I’m really hoping you’ll make this delicious triple lemon layer cake and then bring me a slice (or two).
I adore citrus-based desserts, but when it comes to lemon cakes, they are often very dense and a bit too sweet for my liking. So I set out to create a lemon cake that is light and fluffy, but with that same depth of citrus flavor. And I must say, the end result is pretty amazing. Layered with a zesty lemon curd and wrapped in an ombre lemon mascarpone buttercream, it’s the perfect cake for spring and summer gatherings.
Top it with a halo of fresh flowers or sliced lemon and serve with a dollop of vanilla ice cream. Better yet, make that a dollop of Jeni’s Wildberry Lavender ice cream, because lemon + lavender = the Yaas Queen of summer flavor combinations.
Triple Lemon Layer Cake
for the cake:
- 3, 6” cake pans
- 1 3/4 cup cake flour
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1/3 cup plain yogurt
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 2/3 cup whole milk
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 1-2 Tbsp. lemon juice
for the lemon curd:
- 1/2 cup lemon juice
- 2 tsp. lemon zest
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 3 eggs
- 6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cubed
for the frosting:
- 2 sticks unsalted butter
- 8 oz. mascarpone
- zest of 1 lemon
- 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
- pinch of salt
- 2 1/2 - 3 cups powdered sugar
Make the lemon curd:
The lemon curd will need to chill for at least 1 hour (and can be chilled up to 1 week) so I like to make it first and then let it chill while I prepare the cake and frosting. Or better yet, make it the night before!
To make, whisk together lemon juice, lemon zest, sugar and eggs in a small, heavy saucepan. Place the pan over medium-low heat and stir in the cubes of butter. Whisk the mixture frequently for about 10 minutes, until the first bubble appears on the surface and the curd is thick enough to hold whisk marks. Then, transfer the curd into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Place in the refrigerator and chill for at least 1 hour.
Make the Cake:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour cake pans. Then, trace and line the bottoms with parchment paper to ensure your cakes don’t stick.
In a medium bowl, whisk together cake flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
In a large bowl or bowl of a standing mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy. Then, add the eggs one at a time and beat well after each egg.
Next, mix in the lemon juice, lemon zest, oil and yogurt and beat until just combined. Then, slowly beat in the dry ingredients until a smoother batter is formed. Lastly, stir in the milk.
Divide the cake batter evenly between each pan and place in center rack of oven. Begin checking the cake for doneness around 18-20 minutes by sticking a toothpick in the center of the cake. The cake is done when the toothpick comes out clean. (Note: bake time will vary depending on your oven, location, etc.)
Once the cakes are baked, let cool in their pans for about 10 minutes. Once cool, place your palm over the cake and flip it upside down onto a cooling rack lined with parchment paper. If the cake feels stuck, gently run a thin knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the edges. Then, flip over on parchment and let cool completely.
Assemble the cake:
Once your cakes are cooled, you’ll want to level them to ensure your cake stacks up evenly. To do this, simply take a sharp knife and cut off the top “dome” of each cake to make for a flat surface.
Then, place one layer on a cake stand, top side up. Next, create an icing dam around the perimeter of the cake layer. Then, spread a smooth layer of the lemon curd inside the icing dam.
If you’re making three layers, place the next cake layer directly on top and repeat. Finally, place the last layer upside down (or leveled side down) to make the top nice and flat.
For a traditional icing look, use an offset spatula and ice the cake smoothly all over. Add more icing for a more covered look and less for a “naked” look. Then, top with fresh flowers, berries, lemon slices or whatever you can dream up!
To create an ombre icing effect as shown above, I recommend checking out Style Sweet CA’s amazing tutorial for step-by-step instructions and photos. She is the cake whisperer!