If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it – or so the saying goes! And that’s what happened with this cake. This was my mum’s birthday cake – her third lemon flavoured cake in as many years. But it’s one of her favourites so why stray away? That didn’t mean I couldn’t mix things up a little – this time with added poppy seeds, lemon curd, cream cheese frosting, and some pretty coloured piping on top. I did a similar icing technique with my Rio inspired tropical cake a couple of months ago, but this time I went with some softer colours, and an ombre effect up the sides of the cake. Luckily mum liked it – read on if you’d like to give it a try.
Let’s start with the sponge. This mixture is enough for a three layer, 6 inch cake. You’ll need:
- 250g self raising flour
- 250g caster sugar
- 250g unsalted butter/Stork
- 4 large eggs
- 1& 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1& 1/2 tablespoons milk
- zest of two lemons
- 1 & 1/2 tablespoons poppy seeds
Start by preheating your oven to 170 C and greasing three tins. Beat together the butter and sugar for a good five minutes until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well between each, then carefully fold in the flour. Finally, mix in the milk, juice, zest and poppy seeds until just combined.
Carefully divide the mixture between the tins, and bake for about 20 minutes or so, until cooked through. Leave to cool and get on with the icing.
For the cream cheese frosting, you’ll need:
- 100g unsalted butter
- 160g cream cheese
- 560g icing sugar
You’ll also need a jar of good quality lemon curd, and some gel colours in which ever shades you fancy – I used yellow and pink – and four piping bags with different sizes and shapes of nozzles.
Beat the butter and cream cheese together for five minutes, until light and combined. Add the icing sugar in two stages then beat for another couple of minutes so it’s lovely and smooth.
Take a third of it, this will be to ice the cake with a crumb coat. Make sure the cake layers are levelled off, then cover one in butter cream, and spread over a good dollop of lemon curd. Do the same with the second, then top with the last sponge and cover in a very thin layer of buttercream to lock in the crumbs. Pop it in the fridge to cool for an hour.
Now we can create the proper icing. Divide the remaining icing into 4 bowls. Leave one white, make one pink, then colour the other two different shades of yellow. Use the darkest at the bottom of the cake to create the bottom layer of the ombre. Next put on the layer of lighter yellow, and cover the rest in white. Take a spatula and even out the icing so it’s nice and smooth.
Now for the piping on top. Put your remaining icing into four separate piping bags with different nozzles. I put the pink into the biggest one so it got the biggest blobs to stand out. Splodge on dots of each colour round the outside of the cake until you’ve built up the effect you want.
And that’s it! A delicious, tangy, moreish lemon and poppy seed cake, with cream cheese frosting which prevents it from becoming too sweet. I think this may have been the most popular lemon cake of the three I’ve made! I really hope you enjoy it as much as we did on mum’s birthday.