Yesterday I had the most perfect first day of summer you can dream up. I started the day with a nice long run, did some chores around my apartment, and then biked to a farmer’s market where I met a friend (Hi, Ashley!) to shop for some local produce and eat food truck tacos. After that, we wandered around my town’s stores before heading over to our school to watch one of her students compete in a skateboarding competition. When I got home, I roasted up my vegetables for a delicious dinner. All in all, exactly what I wanted to be doing on a Saturday with no school work in sight.
So to continue the summer theme, I thought it would be the perfect weekend to make a lemonade layer cake. I’ve made this recipe before, way long ago in my pre-cake decorating class days. It is best served chilled (like lemonade!), which was the real motivation behind making it – I needed a cake that could last until Tuesday frosted in my refrigerator. That’s because on Tuesday I’m going to a dinner that I promised I’d bake for, and between now and then I probably couldn’t find the time to whip up a cake.
And, to add to the beauty of this recipe, it’s adapted from Cooking Light, so I can even convince myself that it’s healthy!
First, put the sugar, butter, lemon rind, lemonade concentrate, and vanilla in a large bowl. Beat on medium speed with a hand mixer for about 5 minutes, until well combined.
Add the eggs then egg whites, one at a time, beating after each addition.
In a separate, small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and baking soda.
Add the dry ingredients in three parts, alternating with the buttermilk, and beating after each addition. You should start and end with dry ingredients.
Pour half the batter into each of two 9 inch round cake pans, sprayed with cooking spray. I only had one, so I had to bake in two parts, but it works out either way.
Bake at 350°F for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. I would check a couple minutes early on this – mine cooked a little faster. Remove from oven and allow to cool 10 minutes in pan before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Side note: during this baking expedition I fell in love with my Caphalon round baking pan. The walls were nice and high, preventing that annoying rounded top you can get when you are baking two layers of a cake separately, which always results in wasted cake when you level it off.
Anyways, while the cake is in the oven, prepare the frosting. First, put the butter, lemon rind, lemonade concentrate, vanilla extract, and cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer. Make sure the cream cheese is chilled before you do this – otherwise you’ll end up with more of a runny icing than a good frosting. Beat on medium speed with a paddle attachment until light and fluffy.
Add the confectioner’s sugar and beat on low speed until blended, but do not overbeat. You will likely need to scrape down the sides of the bowl at least once – this gets pretty thick.
Chill the frosting, covered, in the refrigerator for about an hour while you wait for the cake to cool.
When you’re ready to frost, place one layer on a cake circle (or plate) and spread about 1/2 cup of the frosting on top. Make sure to go only to about half an inch from the edges, since you’ll be putting a layer on top.
Use a cake lifter to put the second layer on top of the first.
Using an offset spatula, spread the remaining frosting over the top and sides of the cake. Decorate if you’d like, but I actually like the simplicity of leaving this one plain.
You can store the cake in the fridge, since it’s best served cold, covered loosely with plastic wrap. I’m also hoping you can store it 2 days if it’s in a nicely sealed cake carrier, but we’ll see on Tuesday!
Lemonade Layer Cake
- 6 tablespoons butter, softened
- grated rind from one lemon
- 3 tablespoons thawed lemonade concentrate
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs
- 2 large egg whites
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 1/4 cups buttermilk
- 2 tablespoons butter, softened
- grated rind from one lemon
- 2 teaspoons thawed lemonade concentrate
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 (8 ounce) block 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, chilled
- 3 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
- Combine sugar, butter, lemon rind, lemonade concentrate, and vanilla extract in a large bowl. Beat with a hand mixer at medium speed for 5 minutes.
- Add eggs and egg whites one at a time, beating after each addition.
- In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and baking soda.
- Add dry ingredients in 3 additions, alternating with buttermilk, making sure to begin and end with the dry ingredients. Beat well after each addition.
- Pour batter evenly between two sprayed 9 inch round baking pans. Bake at 350°F for about 20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
- Allow to cool 10 minutes in pan before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
- To make the frosting, combine butter, lemon rind, lemonade concentrate, vanilla extract and cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix on medium speed with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy.
- Add the confectioner’s sugar, and mix on low speed until blended, scraping down the sides frequently.
- Chill frosting, covered, for 1 hour before frosting cake.