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Lemon Layer Cake with Vanilla Pudding Buttercream

by saltwaterdaughters
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Hi Everyone!  Mother’s Day is coming up, and in our family, that means spoiling Mom with what she really wants – a home cooked meal that she had nothing to do with.  If that meal includes dessert, well that’s just the icing on the cake.  Vanilla Pudding Buttercream on a Lemon Layer Cake, to be exact.

Lemon is one of our mom’s favourite cakes, and luckily, it just so happens to be ours as well.   Lemons are refreshing and tart, perfect for a spring-time dessert! Most of the lemon flavour in this cake comes from a delightful lemon curd. Our recipe states using 1/3 cup sugar for the curd (which Nicole and Mom prefer), I like using 1/2 cup sugar. Adjust based on your tartness preference! Another thing, you can bake this as a cake, cupcakes, as a sheet pan cake, whatever or however you want. All you need to do is adjust the baking time accordingly.

We must warn you though, this is a special occasion cake and takes a long time to make/decorate/clean up after. Everything is from scratch, and it will take roughly 2 1/2 hours. Not saying this to deter you, I just want you to set aside enough time. But you can also make each part in advance and decorate the next day. And if you don’t want to make everything from scratch? At least make this buttercream, it is heavenly. Nicole made this in cupcake form for her co-workers going away party and had several people ask for the recipe. It’s that good.

The buttercream is a riff on the ermine “flour” buttercream, which uses a flour/sugar/milk cooked pudding, which gets added to the beaten butter. This decreases the amount of butter and sugar required. We decided to make a real vanilla pudding, something that is tasty on it’s own. The pudding uses cornstarch, so the buttercream has all the benefits of the ermine variety, light, fluffy, not too sweet, but is also gluten free!! Please let us know if you give it a try! We love to hear from you. And before we forget, Happy Mother’s day to all the hard working moms out there! You deserve way more than a cake, but we’re hoping this will cheer you up:)

Lemon Layer Cake with Vanilla Pudding Buttercream

A soft lemon cake with a delightfully tart lemon curd filling and delicious vanilla pudding buttercream! Curd recipe below as a separate print off.

Servings 12 servings

Ingredients

For the Lemon Cake

  • 1/2 cup (4oz) salted butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup (2oz) avocado oil or other light vegetable oil
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups (305g) sugar
  • 1 large lemon, zest of and 1/4 cup juice
  • 2 1/2 cups (320g) all purpose flour, sifted after measuring (to measure, fluff flour and scoop into a measuring cup with a spoon, then leveled)
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (or lemon extract)

For the Vanilla Pudding Buttercream

  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 1/2 cups salted butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar

Instructions

For the Cake

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease two 8″ cake pans with butter, add a piece parchment paper, cut to size to the bottom of the pan, then grease the parchment paper and dust lightly with flour, shaking out any excess (this helps avoid any sticking). 

  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream softened butter, sugar and oil together until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing after each addition to combine. Add in the lemon zest and vanilla extract and mix. 

  3. In a measuring cup, mix the lemon juice and milk, let sit for 5 minutes. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Starting with the flour, alternate adding the flour mixture and the lemon/milk mixture to the stand mixer, mixing after each addition until just combined.

  4. Divide between two 8 inch pans and bake for 30 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.  If making into cupcakes, bake for 17-19 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool on a rack for 5 minutes before removing from pans. Allow to cool completely before decorating, at least one hour.

  5. To assemble cake, level the cakes with a large serrated knife. Pipe a thick circle of buttercream around the edge of bottom layer of cake, then place in the fridge for it to harden, about 15 minutes. Remove from fridge and add lemon curd inside the buttercream barrier. Add the top layer of cake and frost a crumb coat over the cake. This is a very thin layer of buttercream, which you then refrigerate to harden. This prevent your final coating of buttercream from having any crumbs in it.  After the crumb coat has hardened add your final layer of buttercream using an offset spatula.  

For the Buttercream

  1. In a large sauce pan, combine sugar and cornstarch, whisk together to combine. Add in the egg yolks and 1 cup of milk and whisk until smooth.  Once smooth, add in remaining milk and vanilla extract.  Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly until thickened, this will take several minutes. 

  2. Once mixture is nice and thick, remove from heat and pour through a sieve onto a large plate. Place saran wrap directly onto the surface of the pudding and allow to cool to room temperature. 

  3. When mixture is cool, begin by beating the butter in a stand mixer, or with a hand mixer, until it gets fluffy and light in colour.  Add the pudding to the butter 1 tbsp at a time, and mix until fully combined before adding another tbsp.  Continue until all pudding is added. To remove air bubbles for pipping, smoosh the pudding with a spatula for a minute or so. 

  4. Buttercream can be stored in the fridge for 4 days, or in the freezer for 1 month. Allow to defrost in the fridge overnight, then bring to room temperature before beating again to smooth out.

Lemon Curd

A deliciously tart lemon curd, that is equally welcome in a cake or on a scone!

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 2 tsp lemon zest, grated on a microplane
  • 1/3 cup sugar (1/2 cup if you like a sweeter curd)
  • 2 egg yolks + 2 whole large eggs
  • 6 tbsp salted butter, fridge cold cut into cubes.

Instructions

  1. Combine the lemon juice, zest, sugar and eggs together in a bowl. Place over a pot of simmering water, being sure the water isn’t touching the bottom of the bowl. Whisk constantly, until mixture thickens, about ten minutes. Remove from heat and stir in cold butter, this will help cool the curd and will help get rid of any bubbles that formed during the cooking process. Stir until mixture is smooth, then place saran wrap directly onto the curd and refrigerate until cold and firm.

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