Sometimes, when its springtime but there’s snow on the ground, and the wind howls outside and your winter gloves are falling to bits, but you still need them, you need a great big massive burst of sunshine in cake form to see you through until the real thing comes out to play.
I’m happy to report that three layers of light and zesty lemon and blueberry sponge, sandwiched together with homemade lemon curd and topped with a light lemon frosting is an excellent alternative to sunshine.
If you haven’t made lemon curd before (and I hadn’t before making this cake) don’t be alarmed – it’s really, ridiculously easy to make – so much so that I failed to follow the (laughably simple) recipe and it still turned out lovely.
Recipe adapted from this one by the ridiculously talented Sweetapolita
- 2.5 cups/300g plain flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1.5 cups/300g caster sugar
- 1 cup/230g unsalted butter
- 4 eggs
- level tsp salt
- 2 cups blueberries
- 1/2 cup sour cream (can sub in natural yoghurt)
- 1/2 cup double cream (can sub in semi-skimmed or skimmed with mixed in natural yoghurt)
- 1 tbsp vanilla bean paste
- 2 tsps lemon extract
- zest of two lemons and the juice of one
Let’s get started! Preheat your oven to 180C/gas 4/350F and sieve your flour, baking powder and salt into a large bowl. Next, in another large bowl or stand mixer, cream together your soft butter and sugar until they’re fluffy and light in colour, before adding in your vanilla paste, lemon extract and zest and sour cream/double cream. Add your eggs one at a time, mixing in thoroughly with a quarter of the flour each time. Finally, drop in your blueberries, and then divide between three baking tins – I only had two 9 inch baking tins, so I baked my third layer once the first two were done.
Remove from the oven and cool well, and in the meantime, make your lemon curd and frosting!
For the lemon curd –
- juice and zest of 4 lemons
- 2 eggs plus 4 egg yolks (bag the whites up and freeze for a future meringue or macaron making session!)
- 1 cup/200g sugar
- 4 tbsp/60g unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
Don’t worry – if as I was, you’re a little apprehensive about making homemade fruit curd – I’m here to tell you that its the simplest thing in the world. I got the steps all mixed up when I made this, and it still turned out awesome! To cook, set up a double boiler (a saucepan with a small amount of water with a heatproof bowl on top – don’t let the bowl on top touch the water) – and then combine your lemon juice and zest with the cup of sugar and whisk in the eggs and egg yolks. Stir together, then add the butter cubes and simmer the water gently. Cook your mixture, stirring occasionally, for about ten minutes, until the curd mixture is thick enough to coat the back of your spoon, then set aside to cool.
For the frosting –
- 1 cup/227g unsalted butter
- 2 tsp lemon zest
- 4 cups sifted icing sugar
- 3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 cup cream cheese
- 1 tsp lemon extract
- pinch salt
Frosting time! Mix your soft butter with your cream cheese in a mixer or by hand, until soft and fluffy, then add in your lemon zest, juice and extract and salt. Sieve in your icing sugar gradually, mixing all the time, until its incorporated. I added a little Sugarflair gel food colouring in yellow (melon) to enhance the yellowness of the cake!
Time to assemble your cake! Using a round nozzle of you have one, or just a sandwich bag with a corner snipped off, pipe a barrier around the edge of your first layer of cake. This is where your lemon curd will go, and the frosting is the barrier to keep it in place! Fill the centre with cooled lemon curd, and then pop into the fridge for at least fifteen minutes to firm up before adding the second layer and repeating the process. Finally, pop on the top of your cake, and then use the rest of the frosting to cover the whole cake, either all at once, or if you’re worried about presentation, start with a thin crumb layer, let that set, and then apply a second, much thicker layer of frosting.
The lemon frosting is really easy to work with and looks great!