Make sure they are Meyer lemons. And go make yourself a lemon cake. Spring is in the air, and with The Grill in the iconic Seagram Building still closed, we thought we would take matters into our own hands. We are craving The Grill’s lemon cake, so we had to recreate that lemon layer cake recipe at home. We may not have those impossibly thin layers, but this version is one that you can bake with the family and add to your favorites list.
The Keys to a Successful Cake
There are a few keys to a successful lemon layer cake recipe. First, cut back on the sugar in the icing. Most icing recipes call for 4-5 cups of powdered sugar. We reduced it to 3 cups, and added a fresh whipped vanilla cream to the top of the cake. Also, we like the look of a “naked” cake on this sides, which cuts back on the sweetness of the cake and makes the aesthetic more modern. The result is a fresh, rich lemon layer cake recipe, but that won’t give you an icing headache. Second, you need a frosting spatula. Unless you belong on American Baker, your layers may not be perfectly even. The frosting spatula will help you touch up the shape of the cake so it’s uniform at the edges.
Pistachios From Bronte Make Everything Better
Lastly, this was out of necessity because homemade cakes, unless you do this professionally, don’t always look beautiful. Our solution to this real-life problem was to add pistachios that are finely crushed from Bronte. This takes the lemon layer cake recipe to the next level both taste-wise and aesthetically. Pistachios from Bronte have an intense flavor and bright green color. It is s a gorgeous compliment to the yellow and white of the cake. Functional and beautiful – you’ll like it.
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups sugar
2 sticks of organic butter, room temperature
3 eggs at room temperature
1 cup whole milk, buttermilk or oat milk – your choice
3 Meyer lemons, juiced
1 tablespoon vanilla
For the Icing
1 8-ounce container of organic cream cheese or non-dairy cream cheese
1 ½ sticks of organic butter, taken out of the refrigerator for about 15 minutes
3 cups powdered sugar
¾ finely crushed pistachios from Bronte
2 tablespoons Meyer lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon fleur du sel
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
The key to a fluffy lemon layer cake recipe is to sift your flour, even if it’s already sifted. Then, in a large bowl, mix your dry ingredients of flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. This simple step makes you cake light as air. Set aside.
Break out your stand mixer with the paddle attachment and beat the sugar and eggs together until well blended. Add in the vanilla, lemon, fleur du sel, milk and eggs until well blended. While the mixer is running, slowly add the dry ingredients until you have a nice thick batter.
Line 3 9-inch cake pans with parchment paper and grease with cooking spray or butter. Evenly distribute the cake batter among the three pans, and use a frosting spatula to even out the cakes. Check cakes at 20 minutes by placing a toothpick in the center until it comes out clean, which depending on your oven can be 20-25 minutes.
When cooked through, let cakes rest for 30 minutes in a cool place, then gently slide the cakes onto a plate. Cakes must be completely cool before you ice them.
In your stand mixer bowl, blend the butter, powdered sugar, cream cheese, vanilla, lemon juice and salt until well blended. The frosting should be a consistency where you can ice the cake. Layer the first cake at the bottom, and spread about 1/3 cup of icing. Repeate with each layer of the cake until the top, on which you should spread the thinnest layer of icing. Lightly ice the sides of the cake, with the same thin layer so that you maintain the naked effect.
In your stand mixer, whip the cream and vanilla until the cream is slightly thicker than a dollop. You don’t want that dollop effect like you normally would because the cream will then slide right off the cake. Note, you also don’t want to over-whip the cream. Add the cream to the top of the cake and spread evenly. Top the cake with the crushed pistachios, and refrigerate for at least an hour to set. Bring the cake to room temperature about 35 minutes before you plan to serve it. Garnish the cake plate with some of the leftover pistachios. Then enjoy the best lemon layer cake recipe you’ll ever have.