White Chocolate Lemon Cake
This is my favorite cake of all time - no lie. The lemon curd pretty much does it since lemon is my favorite dessert flavor ever, but paired with the super dense white chocolate cake and the white chocolate whipped cream…oh man. And I’m not even a big fan of white chocolate! But what it lends to the cake batter and whipped cream frosting is dreamy.
This cake is not without its multiple steps - you need to make the frosting mixture at least 6 hours before using it, and the lemon curd will need ample time to chill. The cake layer recipe requires two stand mixer bowls - one for the yolk batter, and one for the whipped egg whites you’ll fold into the batter. It’s quite an interesting one - it’s a hybrid of a butter cake and a sponge cake. In a butter cake you start by creaming fat and sugar, and you typically use a leavening agent, however you also usually add the eggs whole. In a sponge cake (chiffon) you separate the eggs, whip the whites, and fold them into the batter for additional leavening properties, however you typically use oil and not butter.
Interesting, right? There result here is a dense and moist, lightly sweet, incredibly delicious cake. The best plan is to make the cake layers anywhere from 1-30 days in advance (if more than one chill, wrap twice, and freeze); the lemon curd 1-3 days in advance (store in the fridge), and the whipped cream frosting base 1 day in advance. Then day of, or even the day before you’re going to serve it, put everything together in cake form.
I’ve made this cake in many different forms with many different designs (including a half sheet cake for a baptism!), and it’s always a stunner. If you have a lemon-lover in your life, it’s a must for the next celebratory occasion.
adapted from Bon Appetit
MAKES one 9” 3-layer cake
WHITE CHOCOLATE CAKE LAYERS
2.75 cups AP flour (330g)
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
4oz white chocolate, chopped (you’ll need 4.5oz more for the whipped cream frosting)
1 cup heavy cream (you’ll need 2.25c more for the whipped cream frosting)
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 stick butter
2 cups sugar (400g), separated 1/1
4 eggs, separated (you’ll need 9 more for the lemon curd filling)
3 9” cake pans
CAKE GOOP! and a silicone brush
Stand mixer with two bowls, beater attachment, and whip attachment
*note - this recipe does not translate into cupcakes well
Cake goop-up your pans. If you don’t have cake goop (you should! go make some!), you should cut out parchment circles that will fit inside the bottoms of your pans, then grease the pan with butter or shortening, line the bottoms with parchment, grease the parchment & pan sides, and cover all the surfaces with flour, tapping out the excess into the sink or trash. Now, see? Wouldn’t cake goop be SO MUCH EASIER? Also, it works better. Okay I’ll step off my soapbox now...
Heat oven to 350F
Sift 330g AP flour (2.75c), 1tsp BP, and 3/4tsp salt into a mixing bowl.
Melt 4oz chopped white chocolate and 1/2c heavy cream in saucepan over low heat, whisking until smooth. Remove from heat then stir in the rest of the heavy cream (1/2c), 1/2c + 2TB milk, and 1tsp vanilla.
In the stand mixer with the beater attachment, cream 1 stick butter and 200g sugar (1c) on medium-high until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
Add 4 egg yolks, and mix on medium until fully combined.
Add 1/3 of your dry ingredients, and mix on low until combined. Add 1/2 of the white chocolate cream mixture, and mix on low until combined. Repeat, finishing with the dry ingredients.
Make sure your second mixer bowl is clean and totally free of any fat residue, then use the whip attachment to whisk the 4 egg whites and remaining 1c sugar on medium high until just forming stiff peaks.
Fold the egg whites into your batter in two additions, taking care not to deflate as you go, but ensuring they’re mixed in thoroughly.
Evenly divide your batter between your cake pans, either using a digital scale (which you should have!), a large cookie scoop (which you should also have!), or by eyeballing it (not the best method, but you gotta do what you gotta do).
Bake for about 24 minutes or until a cake tester/toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and the sides of the cake are pulling away from the pan. Depending on your oven, it really could take 22-30 minutes, so make sure to start checking the layers every two minutes as of about 22 minutes. Read here for more info on how to tell when your cake layers are done.
Let your cakes cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then turn them out onto cooling racks and let them cool completely to room temperature. Don’t try to frost warm cake layers! If you need to speed things up, once they’ve cooled to warm (but not hot), throw them in the fridge or freezer for a bit, but don’t forget about them - you don’t want them to dry out. Chilled layers are easier to work with anyways - I often make my cake layers days to weeks in advance, and then once they’re completely cool and chilled in the fridge for about 30 minutes (so that they don’t break when being handled), I wrap them in two layers of plastic wrap and then tin foil, and freeze them until the day I’m going to decorate.
LEMON CURD FILLING
3/4 cups fresh lemon juice (6oz)
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar (225g)
6 egg yolks
1 stick + 1 tablespoon butter, cut into small pieces
2 tablespoons lemon zest
medium bowl & plastic wrap
Combine 3/4c lemon juice and 2TB cornstarch in the saucepan and stir until the cornstarch is dissolved.
Whisk in the remaining ingredients: 225g sugar, 3 eggs, 6 egg yolks, 1 stick + 1 TB butter in pieces, and 2TB lemon zest.
Whisk constantly over medium heat - making sure to scrape the bottom edges of the pan - until it thickens and just begins to bubble, about 7 minutes.
Transfer to a medium bowl and place plastic wrap directly onto the surface to prevent a skin from forming.
Chill about 6 hours or up to 3 days.
WHITE CHOCOLATE WHIPPED CREAM FROSTING
2.25 cups heavy/whipping cream
4.5oz white chocolate, chopped
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
small heavy saucepan
hand whisk or spatula
bowl w. cover or plastic wrap (to fit in the fridge)
stand mixer & whisk attachment (after chilling/next day)
Melt 4.5oz chopped white chocolate and 1/2c heavy cream, stirring over low heat until the mixture is smooth.
Transfer to your bowl and add the remaining 1.75c cream and 3/4tsp vanilla.
Refrigerate until well chilled, at least 6 hours or overnight.
PUT IT ALL TOGETHER!
Level your cake layers: http://www.seriouseats.com/2017/05/how-to-level-a-cake.html
Using your stand mixer, whip the white chocolate frosting mixture to stiff peaks.
Place first cake layer on a cake board or platter, then spread evenly 2/3c of lemon curd on top. Gently spread 3/4c white chocolate frosting on top.
Repeat those steps with the second cake layer.
Top with the third layer, and then frost the cake with the rest of the whipped cream frosting.
If you want, reserve a small amount of the lemon curd to pipe a lattice design on the top of the cake.