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Lemon Pretzel Cake with Step-by-Step Picture Assembly Tutorial
Are you as ready for spring as I am? I’m jumping into spring flavors with my new Lemon Pretzel Cake, made with pretzel cake layers, lemon pretzel crunch filling, lemon curd and lemon buttercream.
Lemon Pretzel Cake
This flavor combination has been on my list for a while now, thanks to a family food wars night with the kids. The challenge was to make a dipping sauce for homemade pretzels. Westin made a lemon sauce and it was a total winner with the pretzels. Ever since, I’ve been dreaming up ways to use the two flavors together in a cake.
For the cake layers, I went with pretzel! Yup! Pretzel. Just like we use crushed Biscoff cookies in the Biscoff Cake, we’re using crushed pretzels in the cake layers for this one. I think you’ll love the flavor and the fact that it’s not overly sweet. It balances really well with the other flavors and elements.
Lemon Pretzel Filling
And you know me, I love a crunch in my cakes. I originally thought about doing a pretzel crust, but the more I thought about it, a lemon pretzel crunch filling (inspired by Milk Bar) just felt right.
You’ll want more pretzels, milk powder, lemon zest, sugar, and butter for this filling. Warning you now… you will eat half of this as a snack while you’re making this cake. But don’t worry, there will be enough for the cake and for snacking 🙂
How to Make Lemon Curd
If you haven’t made homemade lemon curd before, you’re in for a treat! Not only is it incredibly delicious, it’s actually quite easy to make. I have detailed instructions in my cookbook, as well as on my blog post for my Lemon Bar Cake.
Tips for the lemon curd:
- Make the lemon curd a few days in advance.
- DO NOT put too much curd in between the layers so it doesn’t lose stability. Instead, use only about ¼ to ⅓ cup curd in the cake and serve extra on the side of each slice.
How to Make the Best Buttercream Frosting
To get this delicious buttercream, make sure you follow my tips: HOW TO MAKE THE BEST BUTTERCREAM
- Sift your powdered sugar
- Use slightly cold butter
- Use heavy whipping cream
- Beat for 5 minutes
- Stir by hand
You’ll want to check out the post linked above for more details on each step to make sure you get the best buttercream frosting. And remember, these steps can be used for any buttercream recipe on my blog.
How to Cake It: Step-by-Step Picture Assembly Tutorial
I don’t know about you, but I’m a visual learner and love picture tutorials. Take a look below for a step-by-step tutorial for stacking and decorating my Lemon Pretzel Cake.
Can I make this cake as a 9-inch by 13-inch sheet pan cake?
For sure! In fact, you can turn any of my cakes into 9-inch by 13-inch cakes, or even bundt cakes and cupcakes. The only thing that really changes is the bake time:
- 9″ x 13″ – you’ll generally increase the bake time by about 10 to 15 minutes
- Bundt pan – a bundt cake bakes almost twice as long as the layers. Plan for 50 to 60 minutes, in most cases
- Cupcakes – for cupcakes, you’ll want to decrease the bake by 5 to 10 minutes
Remember, each recipe is a little different, so bake times will vary. The best way to know your cake is done is to insert a toothpick in the center of the cake. When you take that toothpick out, it should have a few moist crumbs on it.
Other Cakes You’ll Love
- Lemon Blueberry Cake
- Chocolate Pretzel Cake
- Lemon Oreo Cake
- Coconut Lemon Raspberry Cake
- Lemon Poppy Seed Cake
Lemon Pretzel Cake
Pretzel cake layers, lemon curd, lemon pretzel crunch filling, and lemon buttercream.
FOR THE CAKE
- 2 cups (100 g) pretzel sticks, finely ground
- 2 1/4 cups (270 g) all-purpose flour
- 1 3/4 teaspoons (7 g) baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon (3 g) baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon (4 g) salt
- 1 cup (226 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2/3 cup (133 g) granulated sugar
- 1 cup (200 g) brown sugar, packed
- 4 eggs, at room temperature
- 2 cups (480 g) buttermilk, at room temperature
FOR THE LEMON CURD
- 1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon (9 g) grated lemon zest one large lemon
- 1/2 cup lemon juice about 3 lemons
- 3 large eggs
- 4 egg yolks
- 4 tablespoons (56.5 g) cold unsalted butter cut into small pieces
FOR THE LEMON PRETZEL FILLING
- 1/2 cup (113 g) unsalted butter, melted
- 1 1/2 cups (75 g) milk powder, divided
- 1 1/4 cups (150 g) crushed pretzels, mostly pulverized but some chunks are okay
- 4 teaspoons (10.4 g) powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoon (6 g) lemon zest
- 6 ounces (112.5 g) white chocolate
FOR THE LEMON BUTTERCREAM
- 2 cups (452 g) unsalted butter, slightly cold
- 6 cups (750 g) powdered sugar measured and then sifted
- 2 teaspoons (8.4 g) lemon extract
- 4 tablespoons (57.75 g) heavy whipping cream
- Pinch of salt
- Yellow food coloring optional
- *This buttercream recipe makes enough to fill and cover your cake. If you want to add additional piping you’ll want to make an extra ½ batch.
FOR THE CAKE
- Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F. Spray three 8-inch pans with non-stick cooking spray, line the bottoms with parchment and spray again. Set aside.
- Place the pretzel sticks in a food processor or blender and pulse until the pretzels are finely ground and resemble flour. When you remeasure, you should have about a cup.
- In a medium-size bowl, combine the pretzel crumbs, all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk until the ingredients are well-blended.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugars on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
- With the mixer on low speed, add ⅓ of the dry ingredients and mix until combined. Slowly add half of the buttermilk and mix until incorporated. Continue alternating the flour and buttermilk until it has all been incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and slowly mix for another 20-30 seconds.
- Divide the batter evenly among your pans and bake for about 25 to 30 minutes. Cool 10 minutes on a wire rack before inverting onto cooling racks to cool completely.
FOR THE LEMON CURD
- Whisk the sugar, lemon zest, and lemon juice in a medium saucepan. Whisk in the whole eggs and yolks in a small bowl and then whisk them into the lemon mixture.
- Cook the mixture over medium-low heat, whisking constantly, until it’s thick like pudding, about 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter, a few pieces at a time until incorporated.
- Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a small bowl, pushing it through with a rubber spatula. Press plastic wrap directly onto the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until completely set, at least 4 hours and up to 5 days.
FOR THE LEMON PRETZEL FILLING
- Heat the oven to 275 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
- In a medium sized bowl, combine 1 cup milk powder, pretzel crumbs, lemon zest, and sugar. Toss with your hands to mix. Add the melted butter and toss, using a spatula or spoon, until the mixture starts to come together and form small clusters.
- Spread the clusters on a parchment lined sheet pan and bake for 15 to 20 minutes. The crumbs should be sandy at that point. Cool the crumbs completely.
- Crumble any clusters that are larger than ½ inch in diameter, and put the crumbs back in the medium bowl. Add the ½ cup milk powder and toss together until it is evenly distributed throughout the mixture.
- Pour the white chocolate over the crumbs and toss until your clusters are covered. The crumbs will keep in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer for up to 1 month.
FOR THE BUTTERCREAM
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
- Turn the mixer to low and gradually add the powdered sugar, followed by the cream, salt and lemon extract. Mix until combined. Add yellow food coloring, if using. Mix until incorporated completely. Turn the mixer to medium-high and beat the frosting for about 5 minutes.
- Use wooden spoon to beat the frosting by hand for about 2 minutes to push out any air pockets.
- Spread a small dollop of frosting onto a cake board. Place the first cake layer, top side up, on the board.
- Spread a thin layer of frosting over the cake layer and pipe a rim of frosting around the edge of the cake to create a barrier to the filling.
- Spread about ¼ cup of the curd in the center of the cake, carefully spreading it to the edge of the piping.
- Sprinkle about a half cup to three-quarters cup of the lemon pretzel filling over the lemon curd. Gently pat into place.
- Place a second cake layer on top of the piped frosting and filling and repeat these steps.
- Place the final cake layer, top side up, on the second layer of filling.
- Lightly coat the cake with a thin layer of frosting to lock in the crumbs. Freeze the cake for about 10 to 15 minutes to set the frosting.
- Finish frosting and decorating the cake with the remaining frosting. Top with more lemon curd and lemon pretzel crunch filling.
This recipe sounds wonderful. I have a question though, is the pretzel filling supposed to be crispy or soggy?
Hi Courtney! I am hoping to try this recipe soon as it sounds delicious. Is the one cup of pretzels measured before or after you have ground them in the food processor?
It will be after. So you’re processing about 2 cups of pretzel sticks to create one cup finely ground up pretzels for the cake.
Great! Thanks so much!
Any tips is we don’t have and can’t find milk powder 😅
Sorry, but I can’t seem to find where it tells you how to heat the white chocolate for the lemon pretzel filling ( in the microwave? does one have to leave it to cool beforehand?)
I didn’t either, so I’m just going to use the double boiler method. Seems like a missing part of the recipe steps!
Had the pleasure of eating a slice of this cake yesterday at a friend’s birthday party–baked to perfection by her lovely daughter. This cake is one of the very best I have ever eaten!! The pretzels add great crunchy texture to the cake and filling. I wouldn’t have identified pretzels as an ingredient had I not been told. Spectacular!
Thank you! I’m so glad you enjoyed it!
Can you make this cake ahead of time and freeze it? Would it make the filling soggy instead of crunchy? Thanks!
They don’t get too soggy but fresh is always best.
Courtney, thank you for all your awesome recipes and creative inspiration! I am planning to make pretzel cupcakes with salted caramel buttercream 🤤
Silly question? Did you use salted pretzels? Thick pretzels rods or thin pretzels sticks? I am mindful of messing up the salt level in the cake and want to make sure I get it right!!
thin pretzel salted sticks!
I made this cake for Mother’s Day and it might have been the best cake I’ve ever had! All of the ingredients go so well together and are so flavorful. It was definitely a labor of love but so worth it! Family is already requesting it again 😍
Thank you so much!!
I’ve now made several of Courtney’s cakes and this one was another huge hit! I loved the inspiration and I think the creativity is off the charts! Every element is delicious on its own but together they make something amazing! I found an excuse to make the cake just so I could try it and it didn’t disappoint!
Do you add any kind of soak? I would assume the pretzel absorbs a lot of the liquid in the batter.
No soak needed. Just be sure not to over bake it and it will be delicious and moist.
We loved the cake! I didn’t use all the pretzel filling. Any suggestions on what else I can use it for?
We actually love it on yogurt to make a little parfait.
Making this for my husbands bday this week. How far in advance can I make the cake and frosting? Thank you!
You can make and freeze the layers and wrap them in saran! Then they’ll be ready for the day you want to assemble.
This cake is crazy good. I was nervous to attempt the curd and was going to use store bought instead. I’m so glad I tried it because the curd is amazing! I’m so thankful for Courtney’s recipes and helpful baking tips ❤️