I love lemon so when I decided to make a cake for this collaboration with my tent-mate Cheryl, of course it was going to be lemon. The layers have a great velvety, texture and are flavored with lots of lemon zest. It’s filled with a lemon basil curd that reminds me of baking in the tent because I used the same recipe to fill my macaroons for my cookie cream tart. It’s covered in a smooth vanilla swiss meringue buttercream, my very favorite of all the buttercreams. Hope you enjoy it!
Lemon Cake Layers
400 grams of cake flour
410 grams of granulated sugar
the zest of 2 medium lemons
280 grams of slightly cool unsalted butter
2 1/4 teaspoons of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt
6 large egg yolks ( save the whites for the Swiss meringue buttercream - see recipe below)
1 1/2 cup of whole milk ( room temperature)
Preheat the oven 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Grease 2 8” x 3” pans with butter, line the bottoms with parchment paper and dust the insides with flour.
Sift the flour and set aside.
Place the sugar and lemon zest in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat on medium for 30 seconds. This really helps to bring out the flavor of the lemon zest.
Next, add the butter, baking powder and salt and beat on medium speed until pale and fluffy about 4 minutes.
Add the egg yolks one at a time and beat on low for 30 seconds after each addition.
Add 1/4 of the flour and beat on low until just combined. Next add 1/3 of the milk and mix on low until combined. Continue in this manner alternating ingredients until the last addition of flour.
In between additions make sure to scrape your bowl well. You don’t want to have any unincorporated butter.
Divide the batter evenly between the 2 prepared cake pans. Give the pans a spin to level the top and rap on the counter 2-3 times to remove any air bubbles.
I like to wrap a wet dish towel, fastened with a safety pin, around each pan so that the layers bake level and they don’t have a dome.
Place in oven and bake for 40-45 minutes on a rack in the middle of the oven. The layers will be done when the top springs back when lightly pressed and a stick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Place the pans on wire rack to cool for about. 15 minutes.
Remove the cakes from the pans an allow to cool completely.
Wrap the cake in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Lemon Basil Curd
90 grams of Sugar
100 ml Lemon Juice (2-3 Lemons)
85 grams of Unsalted Butter
6 Large Egg Yolks (save 2 of the whites for Swiss meringue buttercream - recipe below)
8-10 fresh basil leaves
In a 1 quart saucepan combine the sugar, lemon juice and butter. Tear up the basil leaves and add to the pot. Heat over medium low until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture just starts to bubble.
In a small bowl whisk the egg yolks. Gradually whisk half of the warmed sugar/lemon juice mixture into the egg yolks and return the mixture to the saucepan.
Whisk over medium low heat until the curd thickens, this may take about 8-10 minutes.
Strain through a mesh strainer into a bowl. Press plastic wrap on the surface of the curd and refrigerate until ready to use.
Makes 1 cup of curd.
Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream
8 large egg whites
400 grams of granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon of cream of tartar
470 grams of cool butter
2 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract
Wilton Lemon Yellow Gel Food Coloring
Whisk egg whites, sugar, salt and cream of tartar in the bowl of an electric mixer over simmering water until the egg-white mixture reaches a temperature of 160°F (71°C) and sugar is dissolved.
Place the bowl on the mixer and whip with the wire whisk attachment on high speed until the mixture is fluffy and the bowl is cool to the touch. This will take about 6-8 minutes.
Cut the butter into 1/2” cubes.
Switch to the paddle attachment.
Begin adding the butter a piece at a time keeping the mixture on low speed. Continue beating until the mixture begins to come together and looks smooth, this.may take as long as 10-15 minutes. If the buttercream does not come together, place the bowl and the paddle attachment in the fridge for 10-15 minutes and beat again. Stop the mixer and scrape the bowl.
ASSEMBLING THE CAKE:
Cut each layer in half cross wise.
Place an 8” cardboard cake circle on a turntable and place some frosting in the middle. Place the first layer on top of the board and press so that it adheres.
Using a pastry bag fitted with Wilton tip #12 and filled with some buttercream, pipe a circle at the edge of the cake. This will insure that the lemon curd will not ooze out when you stack additional layers.
Place 1/3 of the lemon curd in the middle of the cake and spread to the edge of the buttercream.
Repeat with the next two layers.
Place the 4th layer on top.
Using the pastry bag, pipe some buttercream around the sides and top of the cake. Using the off set spatula smooth the buttercream so that most of the cake is covered in a thin layer, for the crumb coat. Place the cake in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
Divide the remaining buttercream into thirds. Color one third a dark yellow, color one third light yellow and leave the last third white.
Using tip #12 pipe around the bottom third of the cake with the dark yellow and the middle third with the light yellow.
Place some white frosting on top and smooth. It’s okay if some frosting goes over the edge.
Pipe around the top third of the cake with the white frosting.
Using a bench scrapper smooth the sides of the cake. If you like the smooth look you can leave it as is.
I like to take the tip of an off set spatula and run it around the side of cake giving it some texture.
Mix together the remaining buttercream and pipe some rosettes or any design you like on the top of the cake.
(A video of how I put the cake together is in my Instagram post of this cake)