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Lemon Cream Cake

This lemon cream cake, fit for a fancy party or just a weekend treat, is as delicious as it is pretty.
Text And Photo By Sara Schewe

Italian Lemon Cream Cake

I don’t get to make cakes as often as I might like. As a teenager, I would have great fun creating celebration cakes for, well, any occasion at hand: my parents’ anniversary, my brother’s birthday, or for no reason at all other than to have a good time.

Cupcakes, on the other hand, I make on a fairly regular basis. They’re convenient, and I have more control over the batch size – I’ve made a 3 cupcake batch before to satisfy my craving. They also travel really well if you have one of those handy little cupcake carriers, which of course, I do.

But sometimes… sometimes you just want a cake fit for a party.

Lemon Cream Cake

I’ve loved lemon cream cake since my mom introduced me to it at a girls’ lunch we had a couple years back. She downright adores this cake, and we often order it when the two of us have lunch at an Italian restaurant (sadly, my dad is not a fan of either Italian cuisine or lemon anything). Since I would be seeing my mom soon, it seemed like the time to figure out a way to recreate this cake. I dug out my go-to recipe for lemon curd from Sherry Yard. She adds a small amount of lime juice to give the curd a greater depth of flavor, an addition I really enjoy.

For the cake recipe, I used Dorie Greenspan’s party cake recipe, and I experimented with the filling/topping. All in all, I was pleased with my results, though I would double the amount of crumble topping next time for a bit more coverage on the sides of the cake. (And because, well, I’m not ashamed to admit the crumble topping is one of my favorite parts of the dessert. I’m still kicking myself for not just doubling the amount the first time around.)

But really, with this cake, the lemon cream filling is the star. I adore lemon desserts, as evidenced by the many lemon recipes I’ve posted on my own blog. Unfortunately, I can only handle pure lemon curd in small doses, but when tempered with cream cheese and whipped cream – WOW. It has just the right amount of creaminess, the taste is spot-on, and I could enjoy it on its own for dessert.

You know, my mom’s birthday is coming up in a few months…I just might have to make this cake again.

Slice of Lemon Cream Cake

Lemon Cream Cake

Lemon Curd
adapted from Sherry Yard’s Secrets of Baking

  • 2 tablespoons lemon zest
  • 1 cup (225 grams) sugar
  • 1 cup (237 mL) lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 3 whole eggs (large), at room temp
  • 4 egg yolks (large), at room temp (reserve whites for cake)
  • 4 tablespoons (55 grams) cold butter, diced

1. Fill a medium saucepan 3/4 of the way full with cold water and heat over medium heat. Make an ice bath (ice and cold water) with a medium-sized bowl, set aside.

2. Zest the lemons and combine the zest and sugar in the food processor and blitz for about a minute to make lemon sugar.

3. Juice the lemons and limes, set aside.

4. In a large heatproof glass bowl, combine the lemon sugar, eggs, and egg yolks, and whisk for about 30 seconds. Place bowl over simmering water until sugar melts (rub a little egg mixture between your thumb and finger – the sugar has dissolved when it no longer feels gritty). Pour in lemon/lime juice. Whisk until curd is the consistency of sour cream and reaches 160 F. Remove from heat and start whisking in the butter, one piece at a time, until incorporated. Pour the curd through a sieve to remove any zest or lumps. Place bowl in ice bath and place sheet of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the curd to cool quickly and prevent a skin from forming on the curd.

5. The curd can be refrigerated up to a week ahead of time.

Cake
adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours

  • 2 cups + 1 ½ teaspoons (223 grams) all purpose flour
  • ¼ cup + 1 ½ teaspoons (22 grams) cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon aluminum-free baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ¼ cups (295 mL) buttermilk
  • 4 large egg whites (reserve yolks for lemon curd)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cups (337 grams) granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup (115 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1. Sift flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt in medium bowl.

2. Whisk egg whites, buttermilk, and vanilla in large measuring cup.

3. With a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, mix sugar and lemon zest on low to release the zest’s oils. Add butter and cream on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 4-5 minutes.

4. Reduce speed to low. Add flour and milk in 3 batches, beginning and ending with the flour. Increase speed to medium high for a minute to incorporate more air.

5. Divide batter between two 9-inch round baking pans lined with parchment. Bake 30-35 minutes at 350*F or until an inserted cake tester comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes, then remove from pans, remove parchment, and cool completely on wire racks (right-side up).

Lemon Simple Syrup

  • 1/2 cup (115 grams) sugar
  • 3/4 cup (177 mL) water
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice

1. Bring sugar and water to a boil, stirring until sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice. Cool.

Filling

  • 1 batch lemon curd
  • 8 ounces (227 grams) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • ¼ cup (55 grams) sugar
  • 1 cup (227 mL) whipping cream

1. Beat cream cheese and sugar until well blended. Mix in lemon curd on low speed.

2. Whip cream to stiff peaks. Fold cream into lemon mixture by hand. Refrigerate.

Vanilla Crumb Topping

  • 1/2 cup (60 grams) all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup (90 grams) confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/3 cup (65 grams) cold butter, cut into 20 pieces
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. In a medium bowl, mix flour, sugar, butter, and vanilla with fingers until clumps form. Separate clumps into small crumbs.

To assemble

Place first layer, bottom-side up, on cake platter. Brush with simple syrup. Spoon on all but ½ cup lemon filling, then top with second cake layer, dome side up. Brush with simple syrup. Spread thin layer of lemon filling on top and sides of cake. Press crumb topping into frosting to adhere. Refrigerate.

Dust with confectioners’ sugar before cutting and serving.

Sara Schewe

Sara Schewe

Sara Schewe blogs about her cooking life at My Madison Bistro, focusing on simple, earthy, soul-satisfying food. She firmly believes the secret to happiness is to first satisfy both body and soul through cooking and baking.

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Originally Published: April 11, 2011

18 Responses to Lemon Cream Cake

  1. Laura Davis

    Laura @ SweetSavoryPlanet Reply

    April 11, 2011 at 10:27 pm

    This cake definitely gets my attention. I love lemon curd and lemon (almost) anything and I have yet to meet a buttermilk cake that wasn’t delicious! This looks divine.

  2. Tamara Novakoviç

    Tamara Novakoviç Reply

    April 12, 2011 at 4:51 am

    This is a recipe to keep and bake all over again, I really like it! I’m a huge fan of lemon desserts and in the same situation as you: me and my mom love this kind of cakes, while my dad loves chocolate ones :) Thank you for this great recipe!

  3. Sandy Reply

    March 15, 2012 at 4:14 pm

    Help! I am in the middle of mixing up this cake and I discovered that, In step 3 of making the cake it says “…add butter and cream on medium speed until light and fluffy, 4-5 min.” But cream is not listed in the ingredients. You don’t mean the buttermilk mixture from step 2 do you? Because in the next step you say to add flour and milk in 3 batches which I assumed that flour referred to the flour mixture and milk referred to the buttermilk mixture. Oh, well I do hope you can help ASAP. If I don’t hear back soon I suppose I shall just add cream until it looks light and fluffy!?
    Sandy in TX

    • Alice Reply

      March 17, 2012 at 2:58 am

      Hi Sandy, by ‘cream’ she means a technique where you beat butter and sugar together until it’s light and and fluffy. You don’t need to add cream. X

    • judy arbaugh Reply

      August 9, 2012 at 8:53 pm

      i made the same mistake with the cream in the lemon cake……..mine is baking now……how did yours turn out?

  4. Pingback: “that’s the best lemon cake I’ve ever tasted” (happy birthday Dave) « Play On The Word

  5. Natalie Reply

    June 7, 2012 at 5:03 pm

    I love lemon & have tried many different lemon cake recipes. This is BY FAR my favorite. My favorite cake recipe ever, actually. My only comment is I only needed half of the filling (therefore half of the curd) and less than half of the simple syrup. The cake is light and the filling is divine. Thank you!

  6. Valerie Monicco Reply

    July 16, 2012 at 10:23 pm

    I love the way this cake sounds. I made this recipes in two day, since my time was limited. I would like to get some advise on the cake part, my cakes came out a bit dry, what can I do different next time, so it doesn’t happen? Thank you very much!

  7. Clifton Printy Reply

    August 30, 2012 at 3:04 am

    I had a lemon cream cake at the Olive Garden restaurant with my 6 yr. old daughter, and 3 yr. old son. The price? well, it was the Olive Garden. Now I had a craving, and this is the itch scratcher. Thank you for a wonderful recipe. I am an armature in the kitchen and found myself holding to the recipe for dear life. the directions were great and I love the way it was broken into sections. Wonderful thank you…

  8. Clifton Printy Reply

    August 30, 2012 at 4:00 am

    amateur (thanks spell checker)

  9. Michelle Reply

    November 18, 2012 at 3:03 pm

    So, im standing in Kroger & I am craving the lemon cake I had at Olive Garden. I pick up lemon cake mix & cream cheese icing and quickly realize there is no creamy light filling or light crumbles on top. Being the amateur baker I am (..box cakes, ready to bake cookies, jello!) I think ill just put lemon extract in some vanilla icing and slab it between a yellow cake! Problem solved. No, I quickly realize thats not a cream. I grab my phone & google search and I find this page. Im astonished that its exactly what I want and already in heaven just thinking of it being done! I being reading and not only wonder what is whipping cream but what is a curd!? I buy all the ingredients and they are currently waiting for me in the kitchen. I hope my cake is as amaxing as this one looks. Thank you for the recipe. :D

  10. Camie Reply

    February 20, 2013 at 5:16 pm

    Not sure what happened to my cake. I bake all the time. I make a ton of different cheesecakes, cupcakes and other things. I am no stranger to a lot of steps in a recipe, but when I went to assemble this cake the filling was way too thin and just made a huge mess. I made sure my lemon curd was at 160 and the right consistency and I beat my cream into stiff peaks. Any ideas? I was excited to try this cake as I have a few friends that are lemon lovers… but this turnout makes me never want to attempt it again after spending much of an afternoon on it.

  11. Joy Reply

    July 20, 2013 at 8:45 pm

    I bake a lot and followed your directions exactly, the cake did not rise well (fresh baking powder)cake heavy, but tasted good. I am like Camie my filling was too runny, are you suppose to refrigerate it? Tasted heavenly though. Thanks

  12. Chad Reply

    July 22, 2013 at 12:22 am

    Was I to bake the crumb topping? It never seemed to get crumbly for me… just doughy. It was good, don’t get me wrong.

  13. Gert Reply

    March 3, 2014 at 5:17 pm

    I’m also wondering about the crumb topping. Can anyone say whether or not it’s something you bake?

  14. Lidiann Melhado Reply

    April 19, 2014 at 8:12 pm

    Just finished making this. It took me 4 hours in the kitchen, but well worth it! The filling was enough for 3 cakes, and so I made more cakes than I had originally planned. I tweaked a few things, the amount of lemon curd was too much and way too lemon flavored. Next time I will use less zest. The taste of every single aspect of this cake is devine, and I’m glad that I made it!

  15. kim Reply

    July 8, 2014 at 9:36 am

    I used all of the lemon curd and although it all tasted amazing the filling was way too runny, was I only supposed to use a small amount?

  16. Andrea Reply

    October 4, 2014 at 5:49 pm

    All individual ingredients and portions of this recipe turned out great. Once I put the filling on the cake it just ran everywhere. And that is after several hours of refrigeration. I have 2 hours before a birthday party! Crossing my fingers it will set up. Any ideas?

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