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lemon layer cake

Lemon Layer Cake

This lemon layer cake has layers of subtle lemon cake with fresh lemon curd and vanilla swiss meringue buttercream. Create a naked and rustic look with fresh lemon peels to top it off. This is a refreshing and elegant cake that is like cakes you find in bakeries or served at weddings.

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 12


Lemon Curd

  • 1/4 cup lemon juice from 2 lemons
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 4 tablespoons butter sliced
  • pinch salt
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest

Lemon Cake

  • 1 cup butter unsalted, room temp
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 large egg whites
  • 2 large whole eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 cup canola oil
  • 2 1/4 cup AP Flour
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk shaken
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest

Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream

  • 5 large egg whites
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 cups butter
  • 1/4 teasoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
  • lemon peels of 1 lemon for garnish


Lemon Curd

  1. The first step in making this lemon curd is to whisk together eggs, sugar, pinch of salt, and fresh lemon juice in a double boiler over another saucepan with barely simmering water. 

    Once the sugar dissolves, add in butter and continue to whisk as they curd thickens up. This takes about 5-10 minutes. 

    The lemon curd is ready once it leaves a custard like layer on a spoon. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon zest. 

    Put the lemon curd in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap set against the surface to prevent a skin from forming. 

    Chill lemon curd in fridge for at least an hour.

Lemon Cake

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and lightly flour three 9 inch cake pans.

    Use a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment to cream room temperature butter and sugar or a few minutes, until fluffy and pale.

    In the meantime, whisk up the dry ingredients in a large bowl (flour, cornstarch, baking powder, salt and lemon zest).

    In another bowl, whisk together the oil, lemon juice, buttermilk, and vanilla extract.

    After creaming the butter and sugar, add the egg whites and whole egg. Save all the yolks left out of the lemon layer cake for Lemon Bars, Banana Split Trifle or creme brulee!

    Then after a couple of minutes, turn your mixer to lowest setting. Add half of dry ingredients. Then pour in the buttermilk lemon mixture. Finish with the rest of the dry ingredients. 

    Then divide the batter between the cake pans. Bake for approximately 24-28 minutes, until it a toothpick inserted gives a clean crumb. Allow the lemon cakes to cool in the pans for 10 minutes before turning them onto cooling racks. Cool completely.

Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream

  1. Begin by whisking together granulated sugar and egg whites in a bowl.

    That bowl gets set over a pot of barely simmering water. Do not allow the bowl to touch or submerge in the water.

     Whisk sugar and egg whites until the sugar is dissolved, about 4 minutes. Use your thumb ad forefinger to rub the mixture and check for sugar granules. The mixture will be warm to the touch and smooth.

    Once it reaches 160 degrees, remove the mixture to the stand mixer set with a whisk attachment. 

    Use setting a high setting, like 8, to beat it for about 5 minutes. 

    It will cool down and be fluffy and glossy.

     Then turn the mixer to highest speed and add in cubes of butter. Allow time for each to incorporate. Continue mixing for another 5 minutes. 

    Swiss meringue buttercream has a curdling period right before it turns into silky buttercream, so don’t be alarmed! 

    Then finish by adding in your vanilla extract. Remove to a piping bag fitted with a round or star tip.

Assembling Cake

  1. Start by putting a lemon cake layer. 

    Then pipe out swiss meringue buttercream in an even layer, making sure to have a higher edge around to hold in the lemon curd. 

    Use a cake spatula to smoth in the inner buttercream before adding a couple tablespoons of lemon curd. Spread the lemon curd. 

    Then put on a another cake layer and repeat. For the middle layer, add extra lemon curd. 

    Then finish off by putting on your last cake layer. Use the last of the vanilla swiss merigue buttercream to top and smooth the sides in a naked look. Top with lemon peels.