June has been a wonderful month for cakes. It started with an angel food cake with strawberries for my Nana’s birthday at the beginning of the month, followed by carrot cupcakes with maple-cream cheese frosting (from Smitten Kitchen) for my Mom’s birthday in mid-June.
Cakes aren’t something I get to bake very often, so having a lot of birthdays in a month has been a real treat – for everyone I assume, since my Mom asked me if I would like to bake the cake for my Grandpa’s birthday party this weekend.
In my family it’s tradition to have the birthday boy or girl choose their cake, so last night I asked my Grandpa what kind of cake he would like. He picked a white cake and specified no chocolate frosting, but a simple white cake just seems so boring! The result was that I got a little creative and decided to use some local in-season fruit to spice it up a little: a light lemon layer cake with raspberry filling. Hold the chocolate frosting!
This recipe uses beaten egg whites to make a nice fluffy and moist cake, not too sweet and quite lemony. Feel free to adjust the amount of lemon zest if you want a stronger or weaker taste of lemon – I really like how the rich lemon flavours in the cake interact with the raspberry filling and tart, creamy frosting.
Adapted from Fine Cooking
2 1/3 c. cake flour; more for the pans
2 3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. table salt
1 3/4 c. granulated sugar
2 Tbsp. lightly packed finely grated lemon zest
3/4 c. unsalted butter, completely softened at room temperature; more for the pans
1 c. whole milk, at room temperature
5 large egg whites, at room temperature
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
- Preheat the oven to 350F and make sure the baking rack is in the middle position. Grease and flour two round cake pans.
- In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
- In a separate bowl, combine 1/4 cup of the sugar with the lemon zest. Add butter and beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until the mixture is light and fluffy (about a minute and a half). Add the remaining 1-1/2 cups sugar and beat until smooth.
- Add 1/4 of the milk and beat on low speed just until blended. Add the flour mixture and remaining milk alternately in three batches, beating on low speed just until blended.
- In a large bowl, beat the egg whites on medium speed until foamy, then add the cream of tartar and beat on high until stiff peaks form. Gradually fold whites into the batter, one quarter at a time, being careful not to deflate the mixture.
- Pour batter into prepared pans and smooth the tops with a spatula. Bake until a toothpick inserted at the centre comes out clean, about 35 to 40 minutes (adjust accordingly if you are using 8″ or 9″ pans). Let cool in pans for 10 minutes, then gently remove from pans and let cool completely.
1 1/2 c. fresh raspberries
1 Tbsp cornstarch
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup sugar
- Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and slowly bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring continuously until slightly thickened.
- Let cool completely.
Lemon Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting
1 1/2 c. whipping cream
1 (8oz) package cream cheese, at room temperature
1 c. confectioners sugar, to taste (use less for a tart frosting, more for a sweet frosting)
2 Tbsp. finely grated lemon zest
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp cornstarch
- In a medium bowl, beat whipping cream with an electric mixer on high until stiff peaks form.
- In a large bowl cream together cream cheese, lemon zest and lemon juice. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until fluffy, then sift confectioners sugar and cornstarch over mixture and beat by hand until combined, scraping sides of the bowl to make sure all sugar is combined.
- Fold in whipped cream.
Assembling the cake
- Use a string or knife to cut round layers in half horizontally so you have four round cakes.
- Starting with the bottom layer, spread 1/3 of the raspberry filling over the top of the layer just to the edges. Place the next cake on top and repeat until all four layers are stacked with filling in between.
- Frost the sides and top of the cake, and garnish with lemon peel and fresh raspberries.