This cake made me as nervous as a call girl in confession.
(thank you Papa for the never ending supply if euphemisms we never grow tired of hearing)
It has layers: Cake.Filling.Swiss Meringue Butter Cream. Or SMBC as the experts call it.
So many elements that can go sooooo wrong.
My first real layer cake went absolutely right. Which has given me the courage and confidence to try again. But not with the same flavors. Oh no. How boring would that be. A food blogger, making the same recipe twice. It’s like a sin.
I made this cake 2 weeks ago for a work birthday party. And by party, I mean, we all congregate in a room, are forced to sing happy birthday, smile, and laugh at each other’s dumb jokes. Sound so very lovely, doesn’t it?!?! The good news is, when you get through the horrific rendition of Happy Birthday, we get to eat cake. Silver lining people, silver lining.
Confession: I cut a slice and took these pictures BEFORE I brought the cake to work. I carefully removed the cake slice, snapped some pics, then carefully reinserted it back into it’s little home on the cake plate. I added a little more frosting tot he frosting smearer (which is the technical term) and just re spread it over the cut marks. Worked like a dream! The only bummer was not being able to taste the cake before bringing i to work. But, their reactions and expressions confirmed it was a dang good cake!
Makes 4 9 inch round layers
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 tsp baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup sour cream (I used light)
1 cup milk (I used nonfat)
2 cups sugar
5 extra-large eggs
3 teaspoons grated lemon zest (3 lemons)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup vegetable oil
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 4 8 or 9 inch round cake pans. Line the bottom with parchment paper. Grease and flour the pans.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt into 1 bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the sour cream, milk, sugar, eggs, lemon zest, and vanilla. Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Mix the vegetable oil into the batter, making sure it’s all incorporated. Pour the batter evenly into the prepared pans and bake for about 35 minutes, or until a cake tester placed in the center of the loaf comes out clean.
When the cake is done, allow it to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Carefully place on a baking rack over a sheet pan. Cool completely before frosting.
Lemon Curd Butter Cream
You’re gonna hate me for this, but I don’t have a recipe for lemon curd buttercream. See, I started to make a lemon curd mousse, and it SUCKED! It was a runny, yucky mess. SOOOO, I had to quickly remedy it. I ended up throwing some butter (1 stick exactly) into a stand mixer with a paddle attachment on medium for a couple minutes. I started to add some homemade lemon curd and powdered sugar until I achieved a consistency I liked. In total, I think I added about 1/2 cup lemon curd and about 2 cups powdered sugar. The end result is DELICIOUS! And a nice spreadable, but thick, consistency. Perfect for the filling of a cake.
Strawberry Swiss Meringue Butter Cream
Recipe adapted from Tracey’s Culinary Adventures
1 1/2 cups fresh strawberries, rinsed, hulled and coarsely chopped*
4 large egg whites
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons, at room temperature
*I measured 1 1/2 cup of the coarsely chopped strawberries, which made about 1 cup of strawberry puree
Puree the strawberries in your food processor until completely smooth.
Add the egg whites and sugar to a heatproof bowl and set it over a pan of simmering water. Heat, whisking constantly, until the sugar has dissolved. This took about 5-7 minutes.
Transfer the egg white and sugar mixture to your stand mixer bowl with the whisk attachment. Beat on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form and the mixture has cooled to room temperature, about 10 minutes. (The bowl will be cool to the touch.)
Reduce the mixer to medium-low speed and add the butter, 2 tablespoons at a time. Incorporate each addition of butter before adding the next. (The frosting may look soupy or curdled once you add the butter – just keep beating and it will come together.) Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula occasionally during the process of adding the butter. Then add the strawberry puree to the bowl while the mixer is still on medium-low. Beat until combined – the mixture might look curdled again when you add the strawberries, keep beating, it does come together!
*The curdling never happened to me, but every website I looked at for smbc instructions talked about curdling, so it must be common.
Spread the buttercream onto your layer cake. Store the cake in the fridge, and bring to room temperature before serving.
*I did have about 1 1/2 cups of buttercream leftover. You can keep the buttercream int he fridge up to 5 days, or even freeze it. Those extra 1 1/2 cups are sitting in my freezer right now, and are going on some cupcakes in a couple of weeks!
Place 1 layer of lemon cake on a cake plate, pedestal or traveling cake platter.
Spread with 1/3 of the lemon curd filling
Add the second layer of cake, then lemon curd, then cake, lemon curd, then finally, the last layer of cake.
In theory you will have already cut the layers of cake to have flat tops, not domes. In theory. I treid to cut off the domes, but from the picture above you can see the cake still has a dome. So, I went ahead and just started shaving it down with a serrated knife. Little by little until it got flatter.
So then I added the swiss meringue. And then sprinkles.
Then I cut a slice.
Do you notice how perfectly the icing slices? It’s not from my fancy knife handling skills either. Ya right. This buttercream is magical like that. It makes slicing a cake so very satisfying, and pretty too.
I’ve officially conquered my fears of layer cakes and my completely irrational fear of swiss meringue buttercream. It wasn’t NEARLY as difficult or scary as I thought. And the results were unreal tasty!!!!! The frosting is light and fluffy, even thought it has GOBS of butter. And it’s not overly sweet. Notice, it doesn’t have TONS of sugar. I love this frosting and can’t wait to try other flavors of it.