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Three-layer lemon cake

I asked my mother-in-law what kind of dessert she would like me to make for her birthday, and she said, "Lemon cake!" An idea was instantly implanted in my brain and I knew exactly what I wanted to create. Except, I couldn't find my vision anywhere in recipe form. I ended up piecing together a few different recipes in order to create this cake. I gambled big time, which I guess isn't terribly surprising considering I'm a risk-taker by nature. In this case, it paid off because my three-layer lemon cake turned out great. Phew!

If you plan to decorate your final masterpiece with candied lemon slices like I did, I would suggest doing this step first, and preferably a day ahead of time.

If you are in the mood to make your own lemon curd, do this, as well, ahead of time. Otherwise, you can purchase it at the store.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour three 9-inch round cake pans and set them aside.

Sift together in a medium bowl:

3 1/2 cups cake flour

4 1/8 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

In a food processor, pulse until well combined:

1/3 cup sugar

3 tablespoons lemon zest

In a large bowl, beat the following ingredients with a hand mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy (about 2 minutes):

1 1/8 cups butter

Lemon-sugar mixture from the food processor

Add 2 1/3 cup sugar to the mixture and beat until smooth, about 1 1/2 minutes. Beat in 1/2 cup whole milk until well combined.

On low speed, add the flour mixture alternatively with another 1 cup of milk (in addition to the 1/2 cup already added), in three batches, scraping the bowl with a rubber spatula.

Beat until well combined.

In a separate bowl (is this getting confusing yet?), beat 7 egg whites with an electric mixer on medium speed until foamy.

Add 1/2 teaspoon of cream of tartar and increase the speed to medium-high. Beat until the whites form stiff peaks.

Add a quarter of the egg whites to the batter and gently fold in with a rubber spatula. Continue to gently fold in the whites, a quarter of the mixture at a time, being careful not to deflate it.

Divide the batter evenly between the three prepared cake pans. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the centers comes out clean, about 30-35 minutes. Let cakes cook completely.

While the cakes are cooling, grab your lemon curd from the fridge.

And prepare a batch of Lemon Buttercream Frosting.

Place one of the cooled cakes onto a serving platter and top with approximately 2-3 tablespoons of the lemon curd. Or more. Have I mentioned how delicious lemon curd is?

Repeat the process and top with the remaining cake.

Cover the entire surface of the cake with the Lemon Buttercream Frosting, being careful to keep the cakes aligned with one another. With lemon curd as the filling, the cakes tend to slip around a bit. I had my husband help by holding them into place with his hands while I frosted.

Decorate the cake with candied lemons, or however you desire!

By the way, the candied lemons are edible, but I removed them from the cake just before cutting since they are difficult to cut through. I had a few adventurous people ask to taste-test the lemons, which made me feel like my lemon-candying efforts were doubly worthwhile.

And that, my friends, is how you create a delicious and beautiful 3-layer lemon cake.

Click here for a printable recipe!

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Reader Comments (6)

Wow, this looks amazing! I was searching on tastespotting for a birthday cake for my hubby and found you. I don't think I have time to pull it off tomorrow (for his party), but maybe for the actual day next week...hmmm...

I love your image of the candied lemon!

02.18.2011 | Unregistered CommenterMicha

You're not kidding when you say you couldn't find a recipe like this. I've been searching as well and working to piece something together for my niece's wedding cake. I did some experimenting with curd fillings not too long ago (didn't post) and really enjoyed the bright flavor. I may give this a try this week and will let you know how it turns out. Thanks! Gorgeous photos, by the way. Really lovely.

03.8.2011 | Unregistered Commenterkellypea

This looks beyond gorgeous. The simplicity of the cake gives such a home-made feel to it.. one that brings about nostalgia.

03.28.2011 | Unregistered CommenterSid

This Looks Soo Gooood! And looks very easy to make!!Virginia Beach Bakery video

This is exactly the cake I have been looking for that took hours to find!!!! Thank you for experimenting!

01.10.2013 | Unregistered CommenterAmy

Is doming a new acceptable trend with cakes? Looks great, but just wondering as I thought flat cakes were the desired look or is that changing? Sure makes things easier!

11.23.2014 | Unregistered CommenterAng

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