For my birthday earlier this month I kept with tradition and made a simple layer cake decorated with local, in-season flowers. As in years past, I went with dahlias. They are one of my favorite flowers, and they are perfectly in season on my birthday which is a win-win!
I saw this cake a while ago and thought it was so beautiful, and the flavor combination sounded amazing so I decided to go for it. It’s a lemon butter cake, layered with rich and tart lemon curd and smothered in creamy Swiss meringue buttercream.
Changes I made: I decreased the frosting amount slightly because in the original recipe she stated that you wouldn’t need all of the frosting for the cake. I cut it down by 1/3 and found that I had just enough to frost the cake, although there were a few spots that you could see the cake through the thin layer of frosting. If I made it again I would make the full amount of frosting. Also, if for some reason you didn’t want to use the lemon curd between the layers you would most certainly need the full recipe for the frosting.
I also didn’t use the lemon curd recipe that was printed with the cake. Since the buttercream recipe called for egg whites, I was left with 4 egg yolks (since I decreased the amount of frosting) so I searched for a lemon curd recipe that called for 4 egg yolks which was easy enough to find. That way I didn’t have to waste anything. It worked out great - 4 whites for the frosting, 4 yolks for the lemon curd!
Overall I thought this was a lovely cake. The cake itself was moist and fragrant. It baked up very well. The lemon curd was really nice, but I did find that it was perhaps a bit too strong for my taste. Not that it was bad in any way, but I would probably want a little more of a subtle lemon flavor in this cake if I would make again. I would keep the lemon zest in the cake, but perhaps just put frosting between the layers instead of curd. Or perhaps mix a little buttercream with lemon curd? Not sure how that would turn out, but I think it would be tasty.
Also, I was not able to find elderflower cordial so I ended up using elderflower liqueur in the frosting which in the end didn’t really shine through. I couldn’t really taste it, partly because of how tart and strong the lemon flavor from the lemon curd was. In the end still an awesome cake, and a great birthday choice, just a few alterations if making again!
Lemon Elderflower Cake
From Liv for Cake
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter room temperature
1 Tbsp lemon zest from one large lemon
2 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs room temperature
2 tsp vanilla
2/3 cup milk room temperature
1/3 cup lemon juice fresh squeezed, from one medium lemon
Elderflower Swiss Meringue Buttercream:
6 large egg whites
2 cups granulated sugar
3 cups unsalted butter room temperature
2-4 Tbsp elderflower cordial to taste
See recipe below
For the Lemon Cake:Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and flour three 8" cake rounds and line with parchment.
In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, and salt until well combined. Set aside.
Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter and lemon zest until smooth. Add sugar and beat on med-high until pale and fluffy (approximately 3mins). Reduce speed and add eggs one at a time fully incorporating after each addition. Add vanilla. Alternate adding flour mixture with milk & lemon juice, beginning and ending with flour (3 additions of flour and 2 of milk & lemon juice). Fully incorporating after each addition. Spread batter evenly between the prepared pans and smooth the tops.
Bake for approximately 35mins (mine was done at 30, so start checking before 35 minutes to make sure you don’t overbake) or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out mostly clean. Place cakes on wire rack to cool for 10mins then turn out onto wire rack to cool completely
For the Elderflower Swiss Meringue Buttercream: Place egg whites and sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk until combined. Place bowl over a pot with 1-2" of simmering water and whisk constantly until the mixture is hot and no longer grainy to the touch or reads 160F on a candy thermometer (approx. 3mins) Place bowl on your stand mixer and whisk on med-high until the meringue is stiff and cooled (the bowl is no longer warm to the touch (approx. 5-10mins)).
Switch to paddle attachment. Slowly add cubed butter and mix until smooth. Add 2-4 Tbsp elderflower cordial (to taste) one Tbsp at a time whip until smooth.
Place one layer of cake on a cake stand or serving plate. Poke holes into the cake using a bamboo skewer. Brush with elderflower cordial. Spread a thin layer of buttercream on top of the layer and pipe a border around the outside to hold the lemon curd in. Fill with approx 3/4 cup of lemon curd. Repeat with next layer. Place final layer on top and do a thin crumb coat on the cake. Chill for 20mins.
Frost the top and sides of the cake with remaining frosting in a rustic manner. I started by spreading a generous amount of buttercream on the top and letting it overhang on the sides. Then I used a flat spatula to add buttercream to the sides of the cake and to smooth the which created a top lip with the overlapping buttercream. Top with fresh flowers if desired.
From Sally’s Baking Addiction
4 large egg yolks
2/3 cup (134g) granulated sugar
1 Tablespoon lemon zest (about 1 lemon)
1/3 cup (80ml) fresh lemon juice (about 3 lemons)
1/8 teaspoon salt
6 Tablespoons (86g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
Fill the bottom pot of your double boiler with 1-2 inches of water. Place on high heat. Once the water begins to boil, reduce to low heat to keep the water at a simmer.
Place egg yolks, granulated sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and salt into the top pot of your double boiler. Using a silicone whisk, whisk until completely blended, then continue to whisk as the curd cooks. Constant whisking prevents the egg yolks from curdling. Whisk and cook until the mixture becomes thick, resembling the texture of hollandaise sauce, about 10 minutes. If curd isn’t thickening, turn up the heat and constantly whisk.
Remove pan from heat. Cut the butter into 6 separate pieces, then stir into the curd. The butter will melt from the heat of the curd. Pour curd into a jar or bowl and place a piece of plastic wrap directly on top so it is touching the top of the curd. (This prevents a skin from forming on top.) The curd will continue to thicken as it cools. Once cool, the plastic wrap can be removed.
Refrigerate the curd for up to about 10 days.