A lemon cake for my husband's birthday. Sounded like a great idea, except I had never made a lemon cake before. See, I am totally one of those people that try new recipes on company, and that even rolls over into never-before-made birthday lemon cake. Call me crazy or confident, I really don't care at the end of the day....as long as it works! I went scouring for a recipe that got my juices flowing and finally found it at Annie's Eats (I tend to go there often for inspiration) I was pleased with it. More than I thought I would be. Another one to file away for future baking. yay me!
The humidity was kicking my butt...so not the smooth surface I was going for. But hey, you can't win em' all!
Oh, did I mention candied lemon slices for garnish? Just call me fancy pants!..and the little flecks of vanilla bean make me happy!
Calling my name..... I totally gave in. *sigh*
For the cake
3 cups of cake flour
1 tablespoon of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 cup of unsalted butter at room temperature
Zest of 1/2 a lemon
2 cups of sugar
5 large eggs at room temperature
1 1/4 cups of buttermilk at room temperature
1 tablespoon of lemon emulsion or extract
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
For the filling
4oz COLD cream cheese
2 1/2 tablespoons of unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/4 cups of confectioners sugar. sifted
2 teaspoons of lemon emulsion or extract
Zest of 1/2 a lemon
1 cup of heavy cream. chilled
For the frosting
1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter at room temperature
3 cups of confectioners sugar. sifted
pinch of salt
1 vanilla bean split lengthwise
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
2 tablespoons of heavy cream
For the candied lemon slices
1 whole lemon
1 cup of sugar
1 cup of water
preheat oven to 350. butter and flour 3-8inch round baking pans. line the bottoms with parchment paper.
To make the cake.
In a medium bowl, combine the cake flour, baking powder and salt. Whisk together and set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the butter and lemon zest. Beat until light in color and fluffy. about 3 minutes. scrap down the bowl halfway through.
Add the sugar to the butter mixture a 1/4 of a cup at a time, beating approximately 1 minute after each addition.
Mix in the eggs one at a time until incorporated. Scrape down the sides after each addition.
Combine the buttermilk, lemon zest and vanilla extract in a liquid measuring cup.
With mixer on low speed, add the dry and wet ingredients alternately, starting and ending with the dry ingredients. Mix just until incorporated. If needed, scrap down sides of bowl and mix for 15 seconds.
Divide the batter between the 3 prepared pans.
Bake 20-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. If your oven cooks uneven, rotate pans 3/4 of the way into the baking process.
Cool on wire rack for 10 minutes then remove from pans and allow to cool completely.
To make the filling
In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the cream cheese and butter. Beat on med/high until smooth.
Mix in the confectioners sugar on low until combined.
Mix in the lemon emulsion and lemon zest. Increase the speed to med/high and beat until light and fluffy. about 2 minutes.
Transfer the mixture to a bowl and set aside.
In the bowl of the stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, add the heavy cream and whip on high until stiff peaks form. Be careful not to over-beat.
Mix about a 1/3 of the whipped cream into the cream cheese lemon mixture.
Gently fold in the remaining whipped cream until even color appears and no streaks are visible.
Cover and keep in fridge until ready to assemble cake. If the mixture is too firm when it is time to spread on cake layers, just let it sit out for a few minutes.
To make the frosting
In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with a whisk attachment, whip butter on med/high until smooth. about 1 minute.
Add confectioners sugar and whip on med/low just until incorporated.
Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the mixer and add the salt. Beat on med/high until smooth. 1-2 minutes.
Mix in the vanilla extract and heavy cream on low just until incorporated.
Whip on high until light and fluffy. about 4 minutes. scrape down bowl if needed.
To make candied lemon slices
Wash and dry lemons.
Using a sharp serrated knife, cut very thin slices. poke out any seeds with a toothpick.
Combine water and sugar in a heavy saucepan over med/high heat. Heat until sugar dissolves.
Add lemon slices to pan in a single layer. no overlapping.
Reduce heat to med/low and simmer for 20 minutes. Turn slices at least once to ensure both sides are candied.
Remove from heat and store in a container with syrup until ready to use.
Assemble the cake
Level the cakes if needed. Place the first layer on a serving platter. Top with half of the cream cheese lemon filling. Smooth into an even layer.
Place the second cake on top of the first filling and top with the remaining filling.
Place the final layer on top.
Frost the top and side of assembled cake with the vanilla bean frosting.
If desired, use a pastry bag fitted with a decorative tip to pipe accents on the cake.
Garnish with the candied lemon slices.