If The Man is heading to the grocery store on his own accord, it’s always to get wine and cookies. Ok, that’s not being fair…sometimes it’s for wine and cake. Lemon Cake to be exact. But sadly last week, they were out of his favorite dessert! So Little Miss and I decided to whip up a special treat for him while he was off at work.
You are getting a free pass on the cake portion of this Luscious Lemon Cake – I’m starting with a box mix. Duncan Hines makes a super moist box cake, and with a few adjustments no one will ever know you didn’t bake it from scratch.
Instead of using oil, I like to add vanilla Greek yogurt. It’s thick, creamy, and alot healthier. I am also replacing some of the water with lemon juice – it is a lemon cake after all. Aside from that, we’ll follow the directions on the box for mixing and baking.
Now here comes the real work – the filling and icing. Let’s start with the Lemon Curd filling. Lemon curd kind of sounds gross (who wants to eat curds…) but it’s really silky and delicious. The strong (yet sweet) lemon flavor will compliment the delicate cake and the mild lemon flavor of the billowy icing. Yes, I said billowy….and I mean billowy!
Ina Garten (AKA Barefoot Contessa) has a super simple Lemon Curd recipe. I halved the recipe (and still had a little left over). I think she wants you to use a food processor and your mixer…but I wasn’t in the mood to dirty anymore dishes (or wash more dishes….we’ll need the mixer later for the icing). So just do everything in the food processor – it works out fine. When it comes to cooking the curd, use medium heat and make sure you stir regularly (especially once it starts to bubble). And while waiting for it to thicken, keep in mind that it will thicken some more as it cools.
Isn’t it pretty? After the curd has cooled, spread a layer onto your cake. I left a 1/2 inch rim, to prevent the curd from oozing out.
Onto the billowy icing. Lemon-Vanilla Whipped Cream Icing is composed of 3 parts (I know, I know…but they are all totally worth it!) – Lemon simple syrup, stabilized whip cream, and vanilla cream cheese. Now – you could choose to leave out either the whip cream or the cream cheese element. Either makes a nice icing on their own….but for this cake, I wanted the fluffiness of the whip cream combined with the flavor and weight of the cream cheese. The results are perfect for this cake – lightly lemony, a hint of vanilla, and a melt in your mouth texture.
After your butter and cream cheese are beat together and your whip cream and simple-syrup is thoroughly whipped (no, you didn’t miss anything, I’ll give you more details in the recipe portion at the bottom) gently fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese. I did this in 3 portions, and carefully beat until everything was combined. Then with a butter knife, spread a thick layer over your cake.
Luscious Lemon Cake
- 1 box lemon cake mix (Duncan Hines)
- 1 1/4 C. water
- 1 C. vanilla Greek yogurt
- 3 eggs
- juice of one lemon
Combine all ingredients. Follow package directions for two 9 or 8 inch round pans. Allow cake to cool completely.
- 1 1/2 lemons
- 3/4 C. sugar
- 4 T. butter
- 2 eggs
With a vegetable peeler, remove peel (yellow only, avoid white pith) from lemons. Cut lemons in half. Squeeze to juice, and reserve for later. Add zest and sugar to a food processor. Pulse until peel is finely ground and incorporated into sugar. Add in butter. Pulse until butter and sugar are creamed together. Add in each egg one at a time, and pulse until just combined. Pour in reserved lemon juice and pulse until combined.
Pour mixture into a small sauce pan. Heat over medium heat until bubbly and thickened (about 10 minutes). Pour lemon curd into a bowl, cover and refrigerate until cool.
Recipe courtesy of Ina Garten
Place first cake round onto a plate. Spread lemon curd onto cake, leaving a 1/2 inch rim around the edge. Top with second round. Starting with the sides, spread a thick layer of icing on sides and top of cake. Refrigerate for an hour before serving. Keep cake covered and refrigerated.
Lemon-Vanilla Whipped Cream Icing
Lemon Simple Syrup
- 1 C. water
- 1 C. sugar
- 2 lemons, halved (use left over lemons from lemon curd)
Combine all ingredients into a small sauce pan. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook for 15 minutes. Strain syrup into a bowl. Refrigerate until cool.
Stabilized Lemon Whip cream
- 1/2 C. lemon simple syrup
- 1 tsp. gelatin (unflavored, powder)
- 1 C. whipping cream
In a glass bowl or measuring cup, pour gelatin into cold simple syrup, allow to “bloom” for 10 minutes. Hold cup over a low burner until gelatin melts – do not let syrup boil. Allow syrup to cool, but not set up.
In the bowl of a mixer, whip cream until soft peaks form. While on medium speed, slowly pour in simple syrup. Continue to whip until stiff peaks.
Vanilla Cream Cheese
- 3 T. butter, softened
- 6 Oz. cream cheese, softened
- 1/2 C. sugar
- 1 tsp. vanilla
Beat butter and cream cheese until combined and creamy. While mixing on low, slowly pour in sugar. Add in vanilla and beat until combined.
- Vanilla cream cheese
- Lemon stabilized whip cream
Fold 1/3 of whip cream into cream cheese mixture. Continue adding whip cream in thirds, until incorporated. Whip by hand until thoroughly combined.