RECIPE: Luscious Spring Lemon Cake

Hi all! I know I am a little late getting this post out to you. I posted last about candied spring flowers, and in that post I mentioned this cake. You will need to refer to that post to decorate this cake as I have shown here. Here is the link (

Now, back to the matter at hand...the cake. I need to fess up here. The cake shown here was lack luster in the cake department. Since then, I think I have refined the recipe to be much better. It was based originally on Williams Sonoma Spring Celebration Cake. If you go to their site, you will see a couple reviewers had issues with this recipe as well. The flavors are amazing! But the cake layers themselves were either too flat or too dry.

The cake is a sponge cake, similar in texture to a zuppa inglese. The cake is supposed to absorb a lemon sugar syrup so that it moistens up and gives an extra layer of flavor. After making this, I refined this recipe to add more liquid and also to have a less dry and spongy cake. I have also suggested that you add 1/2 cup of lemon liquor (limoncello) to the syrup or directly to the cake layers if you want to kick things up a little. Of course, not a good idea if you are serving kids (though that never stopped the Italians from putting rum in all their desserts...LOL!) but you can omit it if you wish. You may just want to make a 1/3 cup extra sugar syrup.

Also, for the curd, you will either need a double boiler or make one by having a sauce pan with water simmering, and a heatproof bowl sitting in that water which you can hold and cook in. After doing the latter for years (with burn scars to prove it!) I found a used double boiler at a garage sale and it is one of the best $1 investments I have made in my kitchen!

Also, if you need some shortcuts, you can buy lemon curd at the store for the filling to skip that step. And at some specialty stores you can even buy premade lemon syrups or other flavored syrups to soak your cake layers...or go straight to a liquor (again, that makes it adults only). Those shortcuts can cut cake prep time by hours!

The cake is light and refreshing, prefect for a spring meal or even Easter! And with the candied spring flowers, it's quite a show-stopper!

Luscious Spring Lemon Cake


1 tbsp. grated lemon zest
6 egg yolks
1 cup sifted sugar
1/4 cup boiling water
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup flour sifted with 1 1/2 tsp. double-acting baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
6 egg whites

Lemon Curd:
A double boiler (or a make shift one)
3 egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp. grated lemon zest
5 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
3 Tbsp. butter, cut up into pieces

Lemon Sugar Syrup:
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup lemon liquor (optional...if not using, kick up water and sugar to 2/3 cup each and 6 Tbsp. lemon juice so you have enough liquid to soak your layers)

1 cup heavy cream
2 Tbsp. powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Sugared violas or violets (see last post)


Preheat oven to 350˚. Spray down two 8 or 9 " cake pans with nonstick spray. Cut to size a piece of parchment, lay on the bottom of each and spray again. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, beat egg yolks until light and thick. Beat in the sugar and the zest gradually, beating until very light and thick. Very gradually while mixing, add the boiling water. When cool, beat in the vanilla. Gradually sift in the dry ingredients and stir until blended. Do not over mix. Set aside.

With clean beaters, mix the egg whites until stiff but not dry. Fold them lightly into the batter. Do not over work, fold until generally combined. Pour batter into prepared pans, bake for 30-45 minutes-or until pick comes out clean from the center or cake springs back from a gentle touch.  Transfer to racks to cool for 15 minutes. Run a knife around the edges and then invert onto cooling racks. Remove pans and parchment. Let cool completely.

Meanwhile, make your lemon curd. In a double boiler, simmer your water on the bottom. When things are hot, whisk in the top pan (or cooking bowl) egg yolks, sugar, lemon zest and juice until all the foam disappears and the mixture is thick, about 10 minutes. When it has hit that thickening point, add the butter and whisk. Reduce the bottom pan to low, cook continuously until very thick (you can see "tracks" from your spoon or whisk), about 5 more minutes. Remove from heat and whisk 2 more minutes. Cover curd directly with plastic wrap and let cool. (This prevents a skin from forming)

Now make the sugar syrup. In a saucepan, bring the sugar, water and lemon juice to a boil. Stir until dissolved, boil for another 30 seconds. Remove from heat and let it cool down for at least 15 minutes. Add lemon liquor to the sugar syrup, if using.

(flowers need at least 2 hours of drying time, so consider that when planning for your schedule)



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