Every feast needs dessert, and a light, tart lemon curd cake is the perfect way to finish an evening. The flavor of the cake is reminiscent of Madeleine cookies, and it's layered with a sweet and slightly sour lemon curd, then topped off with a simple zesty frosting.
If you've never made curd, don't fear: it's surprisingly hands off. For the ultimate lemon flavor, pick up aromatic Meyer lemons. (If you want to get creative, you can use other citrus, such as limes or grapefruit, too.)
Keep reading, and then indulge in this zingy cake.
Serve this cake for British afternoon tea or as a fittingly sweet way to celebrate the royal baby's birth.
- For the cake:
- Grated zest of 1 lemon
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 1/2 cup self-raising flour, sifted
- 1 level teaspoon baking powder
- 6 ounces butter, at room temperature
- 1 cup sugar
- 3 eggs
- For the lemon curd:
- 1 large juicy lemon, grated zest and juice only
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 2 ounces unsalted butter
- For the icing:
- Grated zest of 1 large lemon
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sifted confectioner's sugar
- 2-3 teaspoons lemon juice
- Preheat the oven to 325°F. Butter the inside of two 8-inch cake pans.
- Measure all the cake ingredients into a mixing bowl and beat — ideally with an electric hand whisk — until you have a smooth, creamy consistency. Then divide the mixture evenly between two 8-inch cake pans and bake them on the center shelf of the oven for about 35 minutes or until the centers feel springy when lightly touched with a little finger.
- While the cakes are cooking, make the lemon curd. Place the sugar and grated lemon zest in a bowl, whisk the lemon juice together with the eggs, then pour this over the sugar. Then add the butter cut into little pieces, and place the bowl over a pan of barely simmering water. Stir frequently till thickened — about 20 minutes. You don't have to stay with it — just come back from time to time to give it a stir.
- When the cakes are cooked, remove them from the oven and after about 30 seconds turn them out onto a wire rack. When they are absolutely cold — and not before — carefully cut each one horizontally into two using a sharp serrated knife. Now spread the curd thickly to sandwich the sponges together.
- For the icing, begin by removing the zest from the lemon — it's best to use a zester to get long, curly strips. Then sift the icing sugar into a bowl and gradually stir in the lemon juice until you have a soft, runny consistency.
- Allow the icing to stand for 5 minutes before spreading it on top of the cake with a knife, almost to the edges, and don't worry if it runs a little down the sides of the cake. Then scatter the lemon zest over the top and leave it for half an hour for the icing to firm up before serving.
- Desserts, Cake