Pretty as a picture, this syrup-soaked lemon cake has a secret ingredient custard powder, making it oh so moist.
With lush layers of lemon curd and a silky smooth swiss meringue buttercream, finish it off with some edible flowers for the ultimate birthday cake.
450g (3 cups) self-raising flour, sifted
50g (1 ⁄3 cup) custard powder, sifted
430g (2 cups) caster sugar
1 tbsp finely grated lemon rind
250ml (1 cup) milk
150g butter, melted, cooled
80ml (1 ⁄ 3 cup) vegetable oil
160ml (2⁄3 cup) fresh lemon juice
Yellow and purple oil-based food colouring, to tint (see tip)
60ml (1 ⁄4 cup) boiling water
100g (1 ⁄ 3 cup) lemon curd
2 x 290g packet white chocolate melts, melted
Edible flowers, to decorate
mock swiss meringue buttercream
125ml (1 ⁄2 cup) bought pasteurised liquid egg whites
600g (4 cups) icing sugar mixture
500g butter, chopped, at room temperature
1 tbsp vanilla extract
9 Method Steps
Step 1Preheat oven to 170C/150C fan forced. Grease two 20cm (base size) round cake pans and line bases with baking paper.
Step 2Place flour
(450g (3 cups) self-raising flour, sifted), custard powder
(50g (1 ⁄3 cup) custard powder, sifted) and 315g (11 ⁄2 cups) caster sugar
(430g (2 cups) caster sugar) in a bowl. Make a well in centre. Whisk lemon rind
(1 tbsp finely grated lemon rind), eggs
(4 eggs), milk
(250ml (1 cup) milk), butter
(150g butter, melted, cooled), oil
(80ml (1 ⁄ 3 cup) vegetable oil) and half the lemon juice
(160ml (2⁄3 cup) fresh lemon juice) in a bowl until combined.
Step 3Stir the egg mixture
(600g (4 cups) icing sugar mixture) into flour mixture until combined. Tint yellow with colouring
(Yellow and purple oil-based food colouring, to tint (see tip)). Divide between prepared pans. Smooth surface. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until a skewer inserted into centre comes out clean. Turn onto a rack to cool completely.
Step 4Meanwhile, combine the boiling water
(60ml (1 ⁄4 cup) boiling water), remaining juice and remaining sugar in a jug. Stir until dissolved. Set aside to cool slightly.
Step 5To make buttercream, combine egg whites
(125ml (1 ⁄2 cup) bought pasteurised liquid egg whites) and icing sugar in a heatproof bowl. Place over a saucepan of simmering water (make sure bowl doesn’t touch water). Cook, stirring occasionally with a spoon, for 4 minutes or until hot to the touch. (To test, place a small amount on a saucer and if hot to touch, it’s ready.) Transfer mixture to a stand mixer with whisk attachment. Whisk on high speed for 10 minutes or until almost room temperature. Switch to paddle attachment. On low speed gradually add butter
(500g butter, chopped, at room temperature), beating well after each addition and increasing to medium halfway through, until smooth and creamy. (It may curdle, keep beating and it’ll come together). Add vanilla
(1 tbsp vanilla extract) and beat until combined.
Step 6Trim and level top of each cake. Cut each in half horizontally. Use a little buttercream to secure 1 cake, cut-side up, to a cake board. Drizzle over a little syrup. Spread over one-third of curd
(100g (1 ⁄ 3 cup) lemon curd) then 1 ⁄2 cupful buttercream to cover. Repeat layering cakes, syrup, curd and buttercream, finishing with the final cake, cut-side down. Spread a little buttercream over side and top to cover (this is called a crumb coat). Spoon remaining buttercream into a piping bag fitted with a 1cm fluted nozzle.
Step 7Place about 1 ⁄4 cupful melted white choc in a small bowl. Tint purple with colouring. Transfer to a small sealable plastic bag.
Step 8Cut baking paper into two 12 x 38cm strips. Use a spatula to spread remaining white choc evenly over strips. Snip 1 corner of bag. Drizzle purple choc over white choc. Working quickly, use the back of a spoon to gently smooth over choc to create marbled effect. Set aside for 1-2 minutes. Carefully slide paper strips onto another baking paper sheet (to stop strips sticking to bench). Set aside until almost set then cut each paper strip crossways into 3cm-wide rectangles.
Step 9Starting from centre, pipe remaining buttercream on top of cake in a circular pattern. Gently press the choc panels to side of cake, overlapping slightly. Top with flowers
(Edible flowers, to decorate) to serve.
We used an oil-based colouring as it can be used to colour both buttercream and choc. Find at cake decorating shops or online.