Strawberry Lemonade Cake


Mar 30

 Strawberry lemon cake layers, filled with lemon curd and topped with strawberry cream cheese frosting.

My mom just moved into a new home and one of the best parts about her new place is the lemon tree in her backyard. She also has a herb garden and a few other fruit trees. I’m so jealous! It’s making me want to get started on my garden boxes stat!
Being the fabulous mom that she is, she didn’t just bring me fresh lemons during her recent visit to Utah, she brought me homemade lemon curd! There’s not a lot of things better in this life that fruit curd. You can literally put it on or in anything – toast, croissants, tarts, cupcakes, cakes. I love the intense flavor it provides without being overwhelming. The other great thing about a curd is that once you have the basic recipe down, switching between flavors is so easy.
For this cake, I decided to make strawberry lemon cake layers because I wanted to rework my strawberry cake a bit. I had heard from a couple readers that the cake sank a little during baking. Though I haven’t had the problem, I didn’t want this to be an issue for anyone, so I made a few tweaks to the cake layers.
In this new version, I’m using a cake flour without sifting. I’m also not whipping the egg whites and folding them in at the end. I was worried that not separating the egg whites and folding them into the batter would make the cake less tender, but to my delight, we don’t lose any tenderness. I’m very happy with the texture and flavor of the cake and wouldn’t change a thing.
There’s also some lemon zest in the cake layers, accentuating the flavor of the curd just a bit. The frosting is a strawberry cream cheese frosting, made with just a bit of cream cheese and strawberry emulsion, neither of which are too strong.
I think one bite of this cake will get your taste buds dancing and make you think of summer!
Enjoy!

Strawberry Lemonade Cake

Yield 1 3-layer, 8-inch cake

Strawberry lemon cake layers, filled with lemon curd and topped with strawberry cream cheese frosting.

 

Ingredients

For the Strawberry Cake

  • 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 (3 oz.) package of strawberry flavored Jell-O
  • 3 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 3 cups cake flour
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
  • 5 large or extra large egg whites, room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cup buttermilk, divided room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract 

For the Lemon Curd

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest, plus 1/2 cup lemon juice (about 3 lemons)
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3 large eggs, plus 3 egg yolks
  • 4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces 

For the Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 6 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
  • 6 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon strawberry emulsion
  • 3 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
  • Pinch of salt  

Instructions

For the Strawberry Cake

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Spray three 8-inch cake pans with nonstick spray, line the bottoms with parchment paper and spray again. Set aside.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the cake flour, sugar, Jell-O, lemon zest, baking powder, and salt. Stir to combine.
  3. Add the cubed butter, one piece at a time, and 1 cup of buttermilk to the dry ingredients. Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy. About 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  4. In a small mixing bowl, whisk the egg whites and remaining 1/4 cup buttermilk. Add the mixture to the mixing bowl in 3 separate additions, mixing for about 30 seconds and scraping down the sides of the bowl in between each addition. Mix in the vanilla.
  5. Divide the batter evenly between the pans and bake for 23 to 25 minutes.
  6. Let cool in the pans for about 10 minutes and then invert onto wire cooling wraps to cool completely. Cakes can be individually wrapped in plastic wrapped and frozen for a week. If you'd like to freeze them longer than one week, wrap each cake layer in tin foil as well. 

For the Lemon Curd

  1. Whisk the sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice and salt in a medium saucepan. Whisk in the whole eggs and yolks in a small bowl and then whisk them into the lemon mixture.
  2. Cook the mixture over medium 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.
  3. 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 Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and cream cheese on medium speed for about 2 minutes.
  2. Turn the mixer to low speed and gradually add the powdered sugar, followed by the strawberry emulsion, cream and salt.
  3. Turn the mixer to medium-high speed and beat the frosting for about 5 minutes.
  4. Before frosting your cake, mix the frosting by hand with a wooden spoon to push out any air pockets. If the frosting feels too soft to frost or pipe, cover it and refrigerate it for about 30 minutes.  

Assembly

  1. Spread a dollop of frosting on a cake board or cake plate to hold the first cake layer in place.
  2. Place the first cake layer, top side up, on the cake board and pipe a rim of strawberry frosting around the edges to act as a barrier to the lemon curd. Spread half of the lemon curd (about 3/4 cup) on the cake layer.
  3. Top with the next cake layer and repeat step 2.
  4. Place the third cake layer, top side down, on the second layer of filling. Apply a thin layer of frosting around the entire cake to lock in the crumbs. Freeze the cake for about 10-15 minutes to set the crumb coat.
  5. If your frosting feels soft at this point, refrigerate it while the crumb coat sets.
  6. Continue frosting your cake, making sure to stir the frosting with a wooden spoon to push out any air pockets.
  7. If you're not serving within the day, you can freeze the cake in a cake box or container for up to a week - just make sure to remove the cake from the freezer about 6 hours before you plan to serve it.  

4 thoughts on “Strawberry Lemonade Cake

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  1. Hey Courtney… I just have a question. In the description you said you use cake flour and all purpose flour but the recipe doesn’t have all purpose listed as an ingredient. My cake tasted delicious, but I was a little disappointed in the layers of cake, as they were only about 1 inch thick after dividing between 3 pans. Any suggestions for a little bit thicker flufflier layers? I followed the recipe exact. Thanks for sharing your gifts and talents. My daughter and I have hoped to attend one of your classes at Gygi’s!
    Emily

    1. I’m sorry about that typo. It’s just cake flour, and I took out a bit of sugar. The cake flour is what should make it taste light in texture. I would say my layers came out to be about 1.5 inches thick. Be careful not to over mix the batter and use room temp ingredients. You could also leave the batter out covered with plastic wrap for a few hours. This helps the dry ingredients better absorb the wet ingredients and will help the cake rise nicely.