Lemon layer cake

As some of you may already know, before I started out in my cooking career I worked in retail. This time last year I was working with BHS and based in their head office (while counting down the days to Ballymaloe!). I was delighted to have been contacted recently by one of my former colleagues to work on an Easter baking project with the brand. Now an online business, there is a great selection of homewares to choose from on BHS.com and I was delighted with the pieces I was sent to use to serve my cakes and buns. The white cake stand I used in the photos is perfect for a decorative cake like this, a simple yet attractive base for an eye catching cake!

Lemon Layer Cake

250g unsalted butter, at room temperature
250g golden caster sugar
4 eggs (in their shells my eggs weighed 250g)
Zest from 2 lemons
Pinch of salt
300g self raising flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
150ml warm milk

Mascarpone icing:
50g unsalted butter, at room temperature
250g Mascarpone, at room temperature
200g icing sugar, sifted
2 tablespoons of lemon curd

Key to success: Don’t over mix the batter once the flour has been added, we want to limit the activation of gluten in the flour to get a light and airy cake.

Preheat your oven to 160°C fan or 180°C conventional oven. Grease 3 x 20cm baking tins and line the base of each one with baking paper.

In a large mixing bowl cream the butter and sugar until the mix is pale and smooth using a stand mixer or a hand held mixer. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing each egg in well before you add in the next one. Add the lemon zest and stir in. Sift in the salt, flour and baking powder and mix in with a wooden spoon, roughly incorporating the dry ingredients before adding in the warm milk. Mix briefly again with your electric mixer just until combined and smooth. Don’t over mix!

Divide the batter equally between the 3 tins and pop into your preheated oven to bake for about 18-20 minutes. To check if a cake is ready insert a metal skewer into the middle of the cake, it should come out clean, if there is some batter clinging to it return the cakes to the oven for another few minutes. Once ready turn out the cakes onto a wire rack to cool.

Next make the icing while the cake is in the oven.
If your mascarpone is too cold and you add it in all at once it will cause the butter to go lumpy so if you can leave the mascarpone out for an hour or so before you start making the icing
If you have a stand mixer use your beater attachment. Beat the butter on a medium speed and add the mascarpone a scoon at a time. Gradually add in the sifted icing sugar and finally add in the lemon curd.

To assemble spread icing on the first layer of cake with a spatula. Put the second cake on top and repeat the icing. Place the top layer on top and ice the top of the cake and sides with a thin layer of icing before refrigerating for 10- 15 minutes to set this ‘crumb coat’.

Spread the remaining icing over the top and around the sides of the cake.

I decorated the cake with golden eggs (my fave!), candied lemon slices meringue kisses, edible flowers and fresh thyme but get creative and come up with your own custom decoration if you like!

Happy baking

M x

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