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Lemon Cake

Ruffles! I saw this frosting technique on sweetapolita and had to try it. I think the end of my piping tip was a bit too even – I could have gotten sharper ruffles with a tip that had a more angled opening. Regardless, I couldn’t contain my glee at the sight of such a pretty cake! I ran out of frosting though, so my two little cakes ended up being ruffled and sprinkled which I thought was quite fun.

The cake is a traditional white cake that I added a little lemon zest to, then filled with lemon curd and topped with Swiss meringue buttercream icing. Which is now my new favorite – so rich and creamy and just mildly sweet. I thought it went perfectly with the intensely lemony filling.

The lemon curd and cake are both Martha recipes, and I followed the buttercream recipe found on the blog that inspired my cake making festivities. I was very pleased with the mini pans that I had just bought – I think the cakes came out so cute and were small enough that none went to waste!

I added some extra zest to the lemon curd, and I’m glad I did. It was just the right balance of sweet and tart (I am guilty of consuming more than my fair share directly from the bowl). I think this would make a wonderful cake for a shower, Easter, or any spring event. Or if you’re like me and need something to get you through the dismal gloom of March rain/snow mix, this cake is just perfect.

Lightly Lemon Cake

  • 3 cups cake flour (not self-rising)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup milk
  • 8 large egg whites
  • Zest of one lemon


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 9-by-2-inch round cake pans.

Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside. Beat butter and 2 cups sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla. With mixer on low speed, add flour mixture in three parts, alternating with milk and beginning and ending with flour; beat until just combined. Transfer mixture to a large bowl; set aside.

In a separate bowl, beat egg whites on low speed until foamy. With mixer running, gradually add remaining 1/4 cup sugar; beat on high speed until stiff, glossy peaks form, about 4 minutes. Do not overbeat. Gently fold a third of the egg-white mixture into the butter-flour mixture until combined. Fold in remaining whites and lemon zest.

Divide batter evenly between prepared pans, bake 30-35 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Transfer pans to a wire rack to cool.

Using a serrated knife, trim tops of cake layers to make level.

Lemon Curd
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • Zest of 3 lemons
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 4 lemons)
  • 12 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold, cut into pieces


Whisk together yolks, zest, juice, and sugar in a small saucepan. Set over medium heat, and stir constantly with a wooden spoon. Cook until mixture is thick enough to coat the back of the wooden spoon, 5 to 7 minutes.

Remove pan from heat. Add butter, 1 piece at a time, stirring until incorporated. Pass through a fine mesh sieve into medium bowl. Stirring frequently, let stand until cool.

Place a sheet of plastic wrap directly on surface of curd to prevent skin from forming; wrap tightly. Refrigerate until firm and chilled, at least 1 hour. Store refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 days.

Swiss Meringue Buttercream

adapted slightly from sweetapolita (I added less vanilla for fear of overpowering the lemon. I shouldn’t have worried as the filling was not subtly lemon at all, but the frosting was nice and mellow this way)

  • 5 large egg whites
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons superfine granulated sugar
  • 1 pound unsalted butter, softened, cut into cubes
  • 3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt

Whisk egg whites and sugar in the bowl of a double boiler (or the bowl of your stand mixer over a pot of simmering water) until temperature reaches 140 degrees.

Whip mixture until it is thick and glossy, and has cooled. With the paddle attachment of your mixer, continue to beat the mixture constantly while adding in the cubed, softened butter. Beat until smooth. If yours separates (as mine did, which was mildly alarming) don’t worry – just continue to beat it and have some faith. It will come back together.

Once all the butter has been added and the frosting has reached creamy perfection, mix in your vanilla and salt. Now you’re all set – pipe away!

To Assemble:
Cake. Lemon Curd. Cake. Lemon Curd. Cake. Pipe/slather with frosting. Consume happily.

1 comment for "Lemon Cake"

  1. So I am just wondering- how do you get a 3 layer cake out of two 9"pans? Did you use three 6" pans and if you did , how was the baking time affected?