Small amount of vegetable shortening and flour for preparing pans
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
¾ cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons freshly grated lemon zest (about 3 lemons)
½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 3 lemons)
1/8 teaspoon salt
6 large egg yolks
1½ cups cake flour, sifted
1½ cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup milk, room temperature (preferably whole milk)
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 tablespoons freshly grated lemon zest (about 2 lemons)
2 cups granulated sugar
5 large egg whites
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
Tip: Use a citrus zester and citrus juicer for fresh zest and freshly squeezed juice. Use standard measuring cups and spoons or scales for accurate measuring.
Mascarpone Cheese Frosting:
16 ounces mascarpone cheese
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
¾ cup confectioners’ (powdered) sugar
1½ cups whipping (heavy) cream
Fresh lemon slices
Lemon Curd (make in advance):
- In a medium heavy saucepan over medium-low heat, combine butter, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, and egg yolks.Cook and stir with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon until butter is melted and mixture is thickened, about 7 to 10 minutes. Do not allow mixture to boil or the egg yolks will curdle. Remove pan from heat.
- Immediately pour the hot mixture through a fine-mesh sieve to strain out the lemon zest pieces and any bits of egg that may have curdled. Pour into an airtight container and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight. The curd will continue to thicken as it cools.
- Preheat oven to 350o degrees F. Prepare two 9 inch round layer cake pans; lightly grease the pans with shortening and dust with flour. Tip: to make baked cake easier to remove from pan, lightly grease the pan, line the bottom with parchment paper, and then lightly grease the top of the parchment paper and dust the pan with flour.
- In a medium mixing bowl, combine cake flour, all purpose flour, baking powder, and salt; sift or whisk together to mix. Set aside.
- In a small mixing bowl, stir the milk and lemon juice together. Set aside. Tip: Don’t worry if the milk appears to curdle.
- In a large bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter, lemon zest, and sugar until light and fluffy.
Tip: To cream, start by placing the butter and lemon zest in the bowl, with an electric mixer on medium speed begin by beating the butter and lemon zest about 1 minute until it is smooth and light in color.
With the mixer still on medium speed, slowly add the sugar to the butter, either one tablespoon at a time, or in a very slow steady stream, taking from 4 to 8 minutes to add all of the sugar, and beating until the butter and sugar are fully incorporated and the mixture is a light, or pale yellow color, with a fluffy texture. While adding the sugar, stop the mixer occasionally to scrape the mixture off the paddle and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula so the mixture blends evenly.
- With the mixer on low speed, add about one third of the flour mixture, mix just until the flour is almost completely blended. Scrape the bowl down, and add about one half of the milk mixture, blending just until mixed. Scrape the bowl down again and continue alternating with the flour mixture and milk mixture, ending with the last portion of the flour, and stirring just until blended. Set aside.
- In another large mixing bowl and using clean beaters, beat the egg whites with an electric mixer until foamy, add the cream of tartar, and continue beating until stiff peaks form. Using a balloon type whisk or large rubber spatula, gently fold about ¼ of the beaten egg whites into the batter to lighten the batter, and then fold the remaining egg whites in.
- Spoon the batter into the prepared pans and smooth the surface with the back of a large spoon. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until a long toothpick, wooden skewer, or cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and place pans on a wire cooling rack to cool for 10 to 15 minutes then remove cake from the pans and place the cake on the wire cooling rack to finish cooling.
Mascarpone Cheese Frosting
- In a large bowl, combine mascarpone cheese, vanilla, confectioners’ sugar, and whipping cream; use an electric mixer and beat together until mixture is smooth and stiff peaks form, about 2 to 4 minutes. Do not overbeat. Mascarpone frosting should be used immediately, or refrigerate until needed.
- Use a long serrated kitchen knife to split each cake layer into 2 horizontal layers.
- Place one of the split cake layers on a serving plate; spread 1/3 of the chilled lemon curd (about ½ cup) over the layer leaving about ½ inch border all around. Repeat with the second and third layers. Place the last cake layer on top.
- Use an offset spatula to spread Mascarpone Cheese Frosting over top and sides of cake. If desired, reserve about 1½ cups frosting to decorate top using a pastry bag and pastry tip and use a pastry comb around the side of the cake
- Place fresh lemon slices, cut in half, on top of cake.
- Cover and refrigerate before serving. Refrigerate leftovers.
Tip: Serve cake using a pretty cake plate and cake server for a delightful presentation.