Lemon Layer Cake

Lemon Layer Cake
Lemon Layer Cake
Lemon infuses this layered masterpiece in three ways: zested into the batter, in a tart syrup that get drizzled over the cakes, and in a thick lemon curd frosting.Todd Coleman

Lemon infuses this layered masterpiece in three ways: zested into the batter, in a tart syrup that gets drizzled over the cakes, and in a thick lemon curd frosting. This recipe first appeared in our March 2012 issue, with Ben Mims' story Sweet Southern Dreams.

Lemon Layer Cake
Lemon infuses this layered masterpiece in three ways: zested into the batter, in a tart syrup that gets drizzled over the cakes, and in a thick lemon curd frosting.
Yield: serves 10-12

FOR THE CAKE AND SYRUP

  • 16 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened, plus more for pans
  • 2 12 cups cake flour, plus more for pans, sifted
  • 2 12 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 12 cup milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 34 cups sugar
  • 1 tbsp. lemon zest
  • 4 eggs
  • 13 cup fresh lemon juice

FOR THE FROSTING

  • 1 12 cups sugar
  • 14 cup cornstarch
  • 14 cup lemon zest
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 10 egg yolks
  • 1 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 12 cups unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Make the cake: Heat oven to 350°. Butter and flour two 9″ cake pans, and set aside. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl; set aside. Whisk together milk and vanilla in a bowl; set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, cream butter, 1 12 cups sugar, and zest on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. On low speed, alternately add dry ingredients in 3 batches and wet ingredients in 2 batches. Increase speed to high and beat until batter is smooth, about 5 seconds. Divide batter between prepared pans, and smooth top with a rubber spatula; drop pans lightly on a counter to expel any large air bubbles. Bake cakes until a toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Let cakes cool for 20 minutes in pans; invert onto wire racks, and let cool. Using a serrated knife, halve each cake horizontally to produce four layers; set aside. Bring remaining sugar and juice to a boil in a small saucepan over high heat. Remove from heat, and set syrup aside.
  2. Make the frosting: Whisk together sugar, cornstarch, zest, and salt in a 4-qt. saucepan. Add yolks, and whisk until smooth; stir in juice. Stirring often, bring to a boil over medium heat; cook, stirring constantly, until very thick, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat, let cool, and transfer to a bowl; chill the lemon curd. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, beat butter and 14 of the curd on medium-high speed until fluffy and smooth, about 1 minute. Add half the remaining curd, beating until smooth, and then add remaining curd and vanilla. Increase speed to high; beat frosting until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  3. To assemble, place one cake layer on a cake stand, drizzle with 2 tbsp. syrup, and spread with 34 cup frosting; top with another cake, drizzle with 2 tbsp. syrup, and spread with 34 cup frosting. Place another cake over the frosting, drizzle with 2 tbsp. syrup, and spread with 34 cup frosting; top with remaining cake, and drizzle with remaining syrup. Cover top and sides with remaining frosting; chill cake to firm frosting. Serve at room temperature.