Lemon Cheese Layer Cake

August 17, 2016

I finally got to make the next cake for The Southern Cake Series, thanks to sickness for keeping me out of the kitchen for ages. 

Luckily I waited until I had a few days at home to start making this one, because it's a doozy of a cake in my opinion. Not that you shouldn't make it, just give yourself time to make it. 

Here's my deal with the Southern Living Lemon Cheese Layer Cake, it tastes amazing, but it isn't an armature cake baker kind of cake. I'm not a huge layer cake maker, they tend to topple over, and this particular cake reminded me of the Southern Living Christmas Cookbook circa 2008 recipe for Bananas Foster layer cake debacle.

That cake tasted amazing, but a cake over 2 layers is just not for me. Plus who on earth needs to eat 3-4 layers of cake?

Other than my issue with 4 layers, the cake wasn't the easiest to frost. Even after freezing to help with what I suspected to be a difficult to frost cake it still had some crumb issues, and the frosting recipe doesn't make enough to do multiple layers to cover the crumb.

Other than that... it tastes amazing. I don't even really like lemon cakes or cookies and I LOVE this cake. I was eating scrapes covered in the curd at midnight last night.

So take that into consideration, this recipe tastes better than anything on earth but is a pain in the but to assemble. I think that partly comes from the type of cake since it has the egg whites folded in. Use the same flavors, the recipe for the curd and frosting and just plop it onto another yellow cake recipe and you'd be in business.

In case you've forgotten... I'm almost reviewing 12 popular Southern cake recipes this year... so expect my opinion on how each came together.

But lemon curd, I could bathe in it.

Lemon Cheese Layer Cake

Lemon Curd::
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup butter, softened
4 large eggs
3 large egg yolks
1 tablespoon lemon zest
3/4 cup fresh lemon juice (I ran out of lemon and added in orange juice for what I was missing)

Cake Layers::
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
1 cup butter, softened
4 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
1 tablespoon orange zest
3 cups cake flour (be sure to sift before measuring)
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1 cup fresh orange juice

Lemon-Orange Buttercream Frosting::
3 cups powdered sugar, sifted and divided
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup lemon curd

1. Prepare Lemon Curd: Beat first 2 ingredients at medium speed with an electric mixer until blended. Add 4 eggs and 3 egg yolks, 1 at a time, to butter mixture, beating just until blended after each addition. Stir in lemon zest. Gradually add lemon/orange juice to butter mixture, beating at low speed just until blended after each addition. Transfer to a large heavy saucepan.

2. Cook mixture over medium-low heat, whisking constantly, 14 to 16 minutes or until mixture thickens, coats the back of a spoon, and starts to mound slightly when stirred. Transfer mixture to a bowl. (This took about 20-25 for my stove)

3. Place heavy-duty plastic wrap directly on surface of warm curd (to prevent a film from forming), and cool at room temperature 1 hour. Chill 8 hours.

4. Prepare Cake Layers: Preheat oven to 350°. Beat 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar and 1 cup softened butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until fluffy. Add 4 egg yolks, 1 at a time, beating just until blended after each addition. Stir in orange zest.

5. Sift together cake flour and next 2 ingredients; gradually add to butter mixture alternately with 1 cup orange juice, beginning and ending with flour mixture, beating just until blended after each addition.

6. Beat 4 egg whites at medium-high speed with mixer until stiff peaks form. Fold one-third of egg whites into batter; fold remaining egg whites into batter. Pour batter into 4 greased (with shortening) and floured 8-inch round shiny cake pans (about 1 3/4 cups batter in each pan). Note: This is where I really changed things, I used two cake pans and put a slight bit more and backed for about 8 extra minutes. What didn't fit in my cake pans was placed in a separate pan for scrape to munch on. 

7. Bake at 350° for 17 to 20 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks, and cool completely (about 30 minutes). If you use my two layer method add a few more minutes and check with a toothpick to see when it's done.  Cool cake layers and then wrap in cling wrap and freeze for a few hours to make assembly easier. 

8. Reserve and refrigerate 1 cup Lemon Curd. Spread remaining Lemon Curd between cake layers and on top of cake (about 1/2 cup per layer - remember I only used 2 layers so we had extra). 

9. Prepare Frosting: Beat 1 cup powdered sugar, 1/2 cup softened butter at low speed with electric mixer until blended. Add 1/2 cup reserved Lemon Curd alternately with remaining 2 cups powdered sugar, beating until blended after each addition. Increase speed to high, and beat 1 to 2 minutes or until fluffy.

10. Remove cling warp from cake and level the layer with a good knife. Pipe a small border of frosting around the bottom cake layer to keep the curd in place, next spoon the curd onto the bottom layer. Top with upper layer. Spread frosting on sides of cake. Spread remaining 1/2 cup reserved Lemon Curd over top of cake. 

Whoo, there's a lot to this cake. 

Will I make it again, probably not. If someone else mad it I would totally eat it though. 

That curd though, I'll be making that again and again.