If you’ve read this blog for a while, you know that I’m not a huge baker—not from scratch anyway. I make no secret of the fact that I think boxed cake mixes are not only acceptable but quite delicious. Sure, I doctor them up and get creative, but it’s not everyday that I make a cake from scratch. When I saw this recipe for lemon cake from Cooking Light (and the great reviews it got), however, I decided it was worth the effort.
I did stray from the original recipe when it came to the frosting, choosing instead to use my go-to recipe for cream cheese frosting. The result was ah-mazing! Seriously, this is one of the best cakes I have had. I love lemon desserts, so maybe I am just a sucker for the tart mixed with the sweet, but this was really, really good. Yes, my cake was a little lopsided and not the prettiest thing I’ve ever made, but I somehow didn’t mind that too much as I was shoveling it into my mouth!
Lemon Layer Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
2 cups all-purpose flour (about 9 ounces)
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
½ cup unsalted butter, softened
3 large eggs
1 cup nonfat buttermilk
2 tbsp finely grated lemon rind
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
16 oz cream cheese, softened
½ cup butter, softened
4 cups sifted powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
Lemon rind spirals (optional, for garnish)
1. Preheat oven to 350°.
2. To prepare cake, grease and flour 2 (8-inch) round cake pans and set aside.
3. Lightly spoon 2 cups flour into dry measuring cups, and level with a knife. Combine 2 cups flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, stirring with a whisk.
4. Place granulated sugar and ½ cup butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended (about 5 minutes). Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add flour mixture and nonfat buttermilk alternately to sugar mixture, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Beat in 2 tbsp lemon rind and 2 tbsp lemon juice.
5. Pour batter into prepared pans; sharply tap pans once on counter to remove air bubbles. Bake at 350° for 32 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 minutes on a wire rack; remove from pans. Cool completely on wire rack.
6. To prepare icing, cream together the cream cheese and butter until creamy. Mix in the vanilla, then gradually stir in the powdered sugar.
7. Place 1 cake layer on a plate and carefully level with a knife if necessary; spread half of icing on top of cake. Top with remaining cake layer. Spread remaining half of icing over top of cake and around sides. Garnish with lemon rind strips, if desired. Store cake loosely covered in the refrigerator.