Luscious Lemon Cake with Whipped Cream Frosting
For the cake:
- 2-1/2 cups cake flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, slightly softened
- 1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 large whole eggs, at room temperature
- 3 large egg yolks, at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 cup whole milk
For lemon curd:
- 2-1/3 cups sugar
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1 cup fresh lemon juice
- 4 large eggs
- 4 large egg yolks
- 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
For the lemon frosting:
- 2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup lemon curd
- 4 cups heavy cream
Step 1: To make the lemon cake: preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter the bottom and sides of two 9-inch round cake pans. Line bottoms with parchment paper and butter parchment. Dust the bottom and sides of pans with flour and tap out the excess.
Step 2: In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir together the dry ingredients with a whisk. Set aside.
Step 3: In an electric stand mixer, using the paddle attachment or beaters, beat the butter on medium speed for about 30 seconds, or until creamy. Gradually add the sugar, increase the speed to medium-high, and continue to beat until the mixture is light, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Step 4: Add the whole eggs and egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla and lemon zest.
Step 5: Reduce the speed to low and gradually beat in the lemon juice (the batter will appear curdled at this point but will smooth out after you add the dry ingredients).
Step 6: Beat in the dry ingredients in 3 additions alternately with milk in 2 additions. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat for another 10 seconds. Divide the batter evenly into the prepared pans.
Step 7: Bake the cakes for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of each cake comes out clean. Cool the cakes in the pans on wire racks for 20 minutes. Invert the cakes onto the racks and cool completely.
Step 8: To make the lemon curd: Combine sugar and 2 teaspoons cornstarch in heavy medium saucepan. Gradually whisk in fresh lemon juice. Whisk in eggs and yolks; add butter.
Step 9: Whisk over medium heat until curd thickens and boils, about 12 minutes. Pour into medium bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing directly onto the surface. Refrigerate until cold, at least 5 hours. Curd can be prepared 1 week in advance.
Step 10: To make the lemon frosting: Combine the cream cheese, sugar, vanilla extract and lemon curd in the bowl of a stand mixer. Fit the mixer with the paddle attachment and mix on medium speed until smooth. Once smooth, remove the paddle attachment and fit the mixer with the whisk attachment. While the mixture is whipping, slowly pour in the heavy cream. Stop and scrape the bottom of the bowl a couple of times while you continue whipping until the cream can hold a stiff peak.
Step 11: To assemble the cake, place 1 cake layer on a serving plate. Pile the lemon filling onto the center using a small offset metal spatula, and spread it into an even layer, leaving a 1-inch border around the edge of the cake layer. Top with the second cake layer. Frost the top and sides of the cake with the lemon frosting and decorate as desired.
Step 12: Serve the cake immediately, or refrigerate and bring to room temperature before serving.