The title of this post is a mouthful, and so is the cake!
I was perusing Pinterest a few weeks ago, when I came across this cake recipe from Dessert First Girl’s blog. It looks delicious! I simmered on it for a few weeks, and came up with a cake of my own. I did use Dessert First Girl’s recipe for Lemon Curd. It is AMAZING. For the cake, I used the Smith Family Recipe that I use for my chocolate layer cakes, which is just a classic vanilla little layer cake recipe, and is my favorite of all that I have tried. I grew up in Northwest Florida having little layer cakes be the norm, rather than the exception, and they are always my favorite. And of course, I used my Swiss Meringue Buttercream Icing from BraveTart to top it all off (but not before adding some lemon to it, too). The mint garnish is from my herb garden. Enjoy!
For the cake (adapted from the Smith Family via Oprah.com)
- 4 1/2 cups all purpose flour, sifted (or whisked)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2 1/2 cups sugar
- 6 large eggs, at room temperature
- 3 cups whole milk
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
For the lemon curd (from Dessert First Girl):
- 1/2 cup sugar
- zest of 2 lemons
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (I used frozen and thawed Meyer lemon juice from my grandmother’s lemon tree)
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into pats
For the buttercream icing (adapted from BraveTart):
- 1/2 of a recipe of Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream Icing
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (again, I used frozen, then thawed, Meyer lemon juice from my grandmother’s tree)
For the cake:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter 14 pans and line with parchment paper, then lightly flour them and tap out the excess. I purchased mine cheap at the Dollar General, but you can bake four layers at a time and then wash, re-grease/line/flour the same four pans if you’d rather not purchase more pans. It’s just a huge time saver – and let me warn you now – this cake is extremely time consuming. I had the buttercream already made and frozen, and it took me approximately 4 hours to make the lemon curd and the cake layers and then put it all together.
Sift (or whisk) the flour, baking powder and salt together in a large bowl and set aside.
Beat the butter and sugar together in the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle blade attachment until light in color and texture and completely combined (about 3 minutes or so). Beat in the eggs one at a time, letting them completely mix in before adding the next one. Scrape down the sides of the bowl often.
Add the flour mixture and the milk alternately, beginning and ending with the flour.
Finally, add in the vanilla and beat on high to make sure it’s fully incorporated.
Add about 2/3 of a cup of batter to each pan, using an offset spatula to smooth it out to fill the pan. Bake four layers at a time for 12 minutes. Test a layer with a toothpick each time to make sure it comes out clean. They will look very light and not done, and should be just pulling away from the sides of the pan. Let cool completely on wire racks.
For the curd:
Mix together the lemon zest and the sugar with your fingers in a metal bowl, rubbing them together until combined. Add the rest of the ingredients to the bowl, and heat over a double boiler until the mixture reaches 180 degrees. Whisk constantly, to prevent a sweet omelette. Carefully strain the mixture into a food processor or blender, and let cool until it reaches around 140 degrees. Process (or blend) until very smooth, and add the butter one piece at a time, allowing each to fully incorporate before adding the next one. Don’t rush this process. When completely combined and smooth, pour into a bowl to cool. You could also do this ahead of time and refrigerate or freeze the curd.
At this point, I thaw my buttercream (see my previous post for the recipe and directions on thawing) in my mixing bowl. Once it’s whipped back up to perfection (I do use the whisk attachment), add 1/4 cup lemon juice. It will start to separate and break down your icing, but just keep whipping it on a high speed until it comes back together. You can add as much lemon juice as you’d like, or even some lemon extract. I didn’t want to overpower the vanilla bean in my icing, but just add a hint of fresh lemon flavor.
Building the cake:
To begin building the cake, place a cardboard cake round on a lazy susan and add a dollop of buttercream icing to the center (to keep the cake in place). Place your first cake layer on top of the dollop of icing. Then, spread a thin layer of lemon curd on top to the cake layer. Add the next layer, spread with lemon curd, and repeat until you reach the last layer. I try to save a really pretty layer for the very top. Don’t put lemon curd on top of the last layer. It should look like this when you finish:
First, crumb coat the cake with the buttercream and put in the fridge for an hour or so. I use this time to clean up, wash all the pans, etc. Then, pull it back out and finish icing. Garnish with mint leaves, or whatever you’d like. I just had mint handy, and the mint went really well with the light lemon flavor. Plus Saturday was the Kentucky Derby, so mint was on my mind. :)
Stand back and admire your hard work! And share with LOTS of friends and family… because this makes a really, really big cake. It also earned rave reviews at our family cookout Saturday, as well as a “best ever baked good” from Wheat!
We also enjoyed slices for breakfast Sunday morning (and almost every meal since!). It is one pretty delicious cake that I’ll definitely be making again. If you try it, please comment and let me know! I’d love to hear how it turns out. If you have any comments or questions, let me know that, too. I’d be happy to try to help you out!