For me, Spring has officially beaten summer in the battle for favorite season. My neighborhood has been full of gorgeous flowers and chirping birds; it’s just such a great time of year. Once Easter rolls around, spring is in full flight and just begs for you to be outside (at least in California). When my good friend invited us over for her family’s traditional Easter brunch, I knew I had to make something that was fit for the season.
Lemon cake with a light whipped frosting is the perfect way to celebrate spring. Lemon is such a bright, clean flavor and you can pretty much make any dessert into a lemon dessert (see Cinnamon Pull-Apart Bread, add Lemon). Making a cake is always considered a big to-do, and is perfect for a family gathering, so lemon cake became the obvious choice. As I thought more, the cake came together with lemon curd and raspberry filling, and dense lemon cake (through the help of lemon pudding mix!). I couldn’t wait to get started and, obviously, to devour it.
This recipe is a bit involved, but it’s worth the time! There are three different parts: the cake, the filling and the frosting. I started with the cakes, and once they were in the oven, started making the curd and frosting. You need to make sure each part is completely cool before putting together.
Cake: Yield: 2 x 8″ round layers (Inspiration here)
1 3/4c granulated sugar
1 (3 oz) package lemon pudding mix
1 c butter, softened
3 c sifted cake flour
1 tbsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1 c whole milk, room temperature
1 tbls vanilla extract
Juice and zest of 2 lemons (zest first, then juice)
Step One: Cake: Sift and Mix
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour two round 8-inch pans, tapping out the excess.
- Sift and whisk dry ingredients together in a medium bowl.
- In a large bowl or Kitchenaid, cream the sugar, pudding, and butter on medium speed until light and fluffy. This usually takes about three to five minutes.
- Add the eggs, one by one, mixing well after each.
- Add the wet & dry ingredients to the creamed mixture by alternating–beginning and ending with dry ingredients and mixing just enough after each addition to incorporate, but not overmix. Add the lemon juice and zest last (to prevent the milk from curdling).
Step Two: Divide and Bake!
- Divide the batter in the pans.
- Bake 25-30 minutes or until a cake tester comes clean when inserted into the center. Let cool on racks for 10 minutes before removing from pan to cool completely.
Lemon Curd-Raspberry Filling (Inspiration here):
4 large eggs
1 c granulated white sugar
1/4 c fresh lemon juice (2-3 lemons)
4 tbls unsalted butter (room temp)
1 tbls lemon zest
1 package fresh raspberries
Step Three: Curd: Don’t let it Curd-dle
In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, whisk the eggs, sugar, and lemon juice until blended. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture becomes thick and 160 degrees F (~10 mins). Remove from heat. Cut the butter into small pieces and whisk into the mixture until the butter has melted. Add the lemon zest and let cool.
The lemon curd will continue to thicken as it cools. Cover immediately with plastic wrap (so a skin doesn’t form) and refrigerate for up to a week. When you’re about put on the cakes, add the package of cleaned, halved raspberries and gently mix in.
1 tsp gelatin powder
4 tbls cold water
2 c whipping cream
pinch of salt
8 tbls confectioner’s sugar
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp vanilla
Step Four: Whipped Cream Frosting: Mix it good!
Sprinkle gelatin over cold water in small bowl to soften (about 5 minutes). Scald 4 tablespoon cream; pour over gelatin, and stir. Refrigerate until consistency of unbeaten egg white (about 30 minutes. If it becomes too firm, make sure to really beat it in the mixer before adding the wiping cream as it won’t fully break apart. My frosting had little bits and pieces of the gelatin, which make the cake look less polished).
Using a hand-mixer, beat until smooth. Whip remaining cream. Add salt, sugar, vanilla, and cream of tartar; beat in gelatin mixture.
Step five: All together now:
Put the cake together. Lay the first round on whatever plate you’re going to use, add some of the lemon curd mixture, leaving about a half inch around the perimeter. Fill the remaining ½ inch with whipped cream frosting. Put the top layer on. Cover with whipped cream frosting, garnish with lemon slices or raspberries, or whatever your heart desires.
Step Six: Let them eat cake! Best eaten day of. Enjoy!