Confession: I really don’t like to bake. I much prefer cooking because its not a science and I can make things my own. Baking is too technical and there’s not a lot of wiggle room unless you’ve got time on your hands to make several attempts. That being said, I unfortunately stumbled across this recipe when I was asked to make a birthday cake a few months back and now I find myself looking for excuses to bake it again. And I don’t even usually care for cake…
Another confession: this cake is a pain in the butt and not for the faint at heart. The cake part isn’t too bad, but the frosting…oh, the frosting. The first time I made this frosting recipe, it resulted in me having an exhausted meltdown (ironically, the frosting melted down, too) in my kitchen at 9:00 on a Thursday evening and making Branden go out and get me more butter for a second attempt because I could NOT wait until the next day! If you know me, you know that I can get a bit crazy when I’m exhausted.
A couple notes about this recipe.
- I’m not usually a huge fan of cake- not that I don’t like it, there’s just other desserts I’d rather have than cake (like chocolate), however I can’t resist this cake. This cake is INCREDIBLE! The wheat flour makes the cake a little less fluffy than a normal cake, but gives it great flavor that couldn’t be accomplished with just all-purpose flour. The cake is extremely moist, especially with the addition of raspberry jam filing.
- The frosting is a pain to make (and will take quite a bit of your time), but its worth it if you do it right. Follow the instructions to the “T” and you won’t be disappointed!
- I’ve never used the meringue powder called for in the frosting recipe– I’ve always used the egg whites with success.
- I cannot, CANNOT stress enough the importance of letting the egg/sugar mixture for the frosting reach room temperature for before adding the butter. The first time I made this recipe, I ended up starting over because the butter was too cold and the sugar mixture was too warm. Let’s just say it was a disaster (and I giant waste of eggs and butter).
Makes three 8″ or two 9″ rounds or one 9×13″ sheet cake. Serves 16
- 2 1/4 c whole wheat pastry flour
- 1 c unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 t baking powder
- 1/4 t baking soda
- 1 c (2 sticks) unsalted butter
- 1 3/4 c sugar (either superfine or granulated)
- 3/4 t salt
- 5 large egg whites
- 1 t vanilla extract
- 2 Tbsp lemon zest
- 1/4 c fresh lemon juice
- 3/4 c milk
- 1/4 c seedless raspberry jam
- Fresh raspberries for garnish (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour the pans or line the bottom with parchment paper
- Whisk together flours, baking powder and baking soda in a medium bowl. Cream together butter, sugar and salt in a large mixing bowl until light and fluffy, scraping down the sides occasionally. It should take at least 5 mins and the butter turns from yellow to white.
- Add the egg whites one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping the bowl as needed. Beat in the vanilla and lemon zest.
- Mix half the flour mixture at a slow speed, then add the lemon juice and milk. Add the remaining flour mixture and mix until completely combined. Scrape sides again and mix until completely combined, being careful not to over-beat.
- Pour batter evenly into the pans. Level the top of the batter with a spatula or back of a spoon. Bake the cakes the amount appropriate for the size: 8″ rounds = 20-22 mins; 9″ rounds = 27-30 mins; 9×13″ sheet cake = 35-38 mins. The cake is one when it begins to pull back from the edges of the pan and is an even golden brown color on the top. The center won’t spring back when done, but neither will it leave a dent.
- Remove from oven and let cool on a rack 20 mins before removing the layers from the pans. Chill the cakes before assembling to make them easier to handle.
- To assemble, once the cakes are chilled, spread the tops of the cake layers with raspberry jam. Return the layers to the freezer for about 15-20 mins before filling with frosting and stacking layers. This allows the jam to set and the layers won’t slide apart while you’re frosting the cake.
- Use the lemon buttercream frosting recipe below to spread a thin layer of frosting over the raspberry jam, stack the layers and frost the outside of the cake. Keep refrigerated until you’re ready to use the cake, then take it out of the refrigerator a couple of hours in advance and serve at room temperature, if possible.
Lemon Buttercream Frosting
- 1/2 c egg whites (whites from 3-4 large eggs) or 1/4 c meringue powder dissolved in 1/2 c cool water
- 1/4 c light corn syrup
- 1 c sugar
- 1/4 c water
- 1/2 t cream of tartar (if using egg whites)
- 1/2 t salt
- 1 c (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/2 c vegetable shortening
- 2 t vanilla extract
- 4 Tbsp lemon juice (divided into 2 Tbsp each)
- 2 Tbsp lemon zest
- Place corn syrup, sugar, water and 2 Tbsp lemon juice in a medium saucepan. Stir until combined and the sugar is dissolved. Cover the pan and bring to a boil. Boil for 3 minutes with the pan covered to wash off any sugar crystals on the sides. Uncover and cook to the soft ball stage (240 F)
- Place egg whites (or reconstituted meringue powder) in the bowl of an upright mixer (such as a kitchen aid). Beat on a low speed until foamy. Add the cream of tartar (if using egg whites) and salt. Gradually increase the speed and continue beating until soft peaks form.
- As soon as the sugar reaches soft ball stage, remove from heat. Turn off the mixture. Very carefully, pour about 1/4 of the hot syrup down the inside of the mixing bowl. Turn the mixer on high speed and beat well. Add the syrup in two more additions, stopping the mixer every time so the hot syrup doesn’t splash and burn you, working as quickly as possible. If the sugar is slightly overcooked and hardens a bit, return it to the heat for a moment to remelt it.
- Continue to beat the meringue until it cools to room temperature. This takes about 20 mins of continuous beating. If you need to hurry it along, place the bowl in an ice bath for a few moments while mixing by hand then return it to the machine. If you add the butter before the meringue is cool, the butter will melt and the frosting will collapse.
- When meringue is cool, if you have two mixers, mix the butter and shortening together before adding it. Otherwise, beat in the soft butter a bit at a time. If the frosting starts to separate, continue beating without adding any more butter until it looks fluffy again. Beat in the shortening. Beat in the vanilla, remaining 2 Tbsp lemon juice and 1 Tbsp lemon zest. If the frosting is too soft, refrigerate before using.