This summer I've been craving lemons and berries like nobody's business. I'm always a peanut-butter-chocolate kind of girl, so I'm surprised by this mental vacation from chocolate cravings. (Although, okay, I admit it, geez! I did make a Reese's chip pie for a get-together this week. Hmph.)
To me this cake represents the best of summer and freshness - it's creamy, moist and so deliciously tart, which makes it dangerous. The lemon flavors cut the sweetness so much that we just kept eating, unaware of the sugar building in our systems until WHEEEE!, I mean um can someone please pass the salty salty pretzels?
I adapted my cake recipe from The Baker's Daughter, but made three (thinner) layers instead of two, so this cake came out a bit smaller than expected. Since I was cakin' it from scratch I didn't have time to make lemon curd, so I used Trader Joe's pre-made version. (If you prefer to whip up your own, find a recipe here.) My raspberry jam was also from Trader Joe's, as it's the best there is, seeds and all. The frosting recipe was made up by yours truly.
Go ahead, make this for your next summer soiree as this pretty little cake is sure to impress!
P.S. I'm sure this would be great with lime or orange curd too, or with lemon whipped cream used in place of frosting!
Lemon Raspberry Cream Cake
For the cake: (adapted from here)
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspons lemon extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter and flour three 8-inch cake pans (or if using 9-inch cake pans, you may want to multiply the recipe by 1.5 or 2).
In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt. In a large bowl, cream the butter with the sugar. Add the eggs one at a time, then add the extracts. Incorporate the flour mixture. Finally, add the sour cream and lemon juice. Stir until as smooth as possible, although the batter will look lumpy and curdly thanks to the lemon juice.
Divide batter evenly between pans, and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until lightly golden and springy to the touch. (If using multiple oven racks, rotate pans halfway through baking.)
Let cool completely on wire racks.
For the lemon syrup:
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup boiling water
1/8 cup fresh lemon juice
Place sugar in heat-proof bowl. Boil water, then pour into boil. Add lemon juice, then stir until sugar is dissolved.
Lemon syrup (see above)
1 jar lemon curd (or about 1 cup homemade)
Good-quality raspberry preserves
Lemon cream cheese frosting (see below)
Poke all three cake layers a few times with a toothpick. (Don't press too hard; you want the toothpick to pierce about halfway through the layer, not all the way through the bottom.) With a pastry brush, spread lemon syrup generously over each layer. Place layers in freezer until firm (about thirty minutes).
Remove cake from freezer. On top of two of your cake layers, spread a sizeable amount of raspberry jam. Place layers in freezer for 30 minutes to make applying the next topping easier. When jam is somewhat firm, spread a thick layer of lemon curd over these same two layers.
Stack the three layers together, with the plain layer on the very top. Frost generously with lemon cream cheese icing, and garnish with fresh red raspberries.
For the lemon cream cheese icing:
5 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, softened
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons lemon extract
4 cups powdered sugar
Beat cream cheese and butter together. Add extracts and lemon juice. Gradually add powdered sugar, adding even more if needed until the frosting is as fluffy as you like it. (I also found myself adding more lemon extract and juice to counteract the sweetness as I went along.)