Lemon Birthday Layer Cake

If you know me you know I love to bake. Pies, cookies, bars, muffins, sweet breads….cakes not so much except angel food cake which I am rather good at if I do say so. But birthday cakes are my kryptonite – I screw them up time after time. I guess it is the pressure….it gets to me. So I was going to make my birthday cake last week and went with a lemon flavored layer cake with a bit of lemon curd between the layers. Sounds kinda ambitious but I was determined to try a new recipe and use some of my wonderful homegrown lemons mailed all the way from Texas.

I had some new Bob’s Red Mill 1-1 baking mix to try out. But it turned out that what I needed was the same flour mix I love and use in the majority of my recipes *King Arthur’s All Purpose blend. Perfect. The new mix will wait….

My sister Karen suggested cream cheese icing after I told her I was not too happy over the super sweet sounding icing that this recipe used. The cake was simple to make; lower fat as it was made with canola oil not butter.  It can also be dairy free but I used the whole milk I had.

I made the layers using my hand held mixer as I have found that the stand mixer is too strong; it over-beats cakes.  Both layers rose well; I used those old school cake strips I have; they help make for level layers that aren’t overbaked on the edges. The cake texture was perfect; not heavy but not light; great crumb and moist.

I had made my own lemon curd the day before; used the Meyer lemons my brother Robert sends every year about now.  The recipe is actually calibrated with Meyer lemons but I am sure you can use standard lemons; will be a bit tarter.  It really added the perfect filling inside this cake; don’t be tempted to use more than half a cup as  your cake will have lemon curd running down the sides….not a good look.

Putting it together was tricky; the curd made the layers slide a touch so I put the whole thing in the freezer to chill and stabilize before I finished the icing. The topping per the recipe was fresh blackberries; got some at Aldi’s and put them around the edge and in the center.  My family gobbled up their slices. Everyone loved it and that is hard to accomplish!  Maybe the birthday cake curse is over…….

 

lemon cake layer

A few minor defects but it is tall and well baked.

The recipe can be found at glutenfreepalate.com/gluten-free-lemon-cake/

I didn’t use the icing used there; went with something less sweet. My citrus cream cheese icing recipe:

1 stick butter, at room temperature

4 ounces light cream cheese at room temperature

3 cups powdered sugar; sift unless it is a new bag

1/2 tsp. lemon extract

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1  to 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

Grated zest of one lemon, zest of half a navel orange (about a tsp)

Use hand mixer to fluff up butter; ;add cream cheese and blend well. Add powdered sugar 1/3 cup at a time on slow speed. Add extracts, one Tbsp. lemon juice and zest. Blend until fluffy adding more lemon juice if needed to reach a good spreading consistency.

lemon birthday cake

As you can see I am not a great decorator or a fantastic photog but  you get the idea of this rich lemony treat of a birthday cake!

You can buy some lemon curd. I made mine as I am an overachiever and I had all the ingredients; can be pricy stuff plus it tastes even better fresh. THe recipe I used is from the Cake Mix Doctor’s GF Cookbook;  2 large lemons, 3/4 c sugar, 2 large eggs and 6 Tbsp. butter melted and cooled somewhat.

Wash the lemons and dry. Grate the zest onto a plate lined with some wax paper. You need about a Tbsp of zest. I had to use most of a third lemon to get that much zest. Juice the two lemons; you want 1/4 to 1/3 cup juice. Put juice, sugar and eggs in medium sauce pan; heavy bottom and whisk until blended. Then add the melted butter and whisk. Heat pan on medium heat until it comes to a boil; you MUST keep whisking it constantly so it doesn’t burn. Once it reaches a boil I like to boil it up to a minute; stir like a mad woman (or man)! Take off heat; pour into a bowl and chill. You can strain it but I like the zest in mine and my lemon juicer strains off seeds so I don’t see that step as necessary. Chill it well before using; at least 2 hours. I made mine the night before. I had 8 oz leftover and am debating how best to enjoy it! lemon birthday cake slice

I used one small container of blackberries and a few more from a second container. Afterwards I wished I had put them all on there as the flavor of them is just perfect with this lemon cake.  Just thinking about it makes my mouth water! Enjoy!

lemon cake half cropped

Can you see the lemon curd layer? I used my three hole zester to make long strands of Meyer lemon zest to decorate after I put on the blackberries. Not too pretty but pretty darn delish!

 

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