Here’s what I’m not going to do here: weave some magical story about how this lemon buttermilk cake is a piece of my soul and why its lemon whipped cream topping will transform your life, taking 17 swipes to get to the recipe.
The only part of this recipe that has any personal significance is the easy lemon curd you’ll make in part two — a staple from my childhood. The rest is something I came up with after trying (and then adapting) a really yummy buttermilk lemon loaf that I featured in my easy family meals post.
And since I loathe scrolling endlessly to get to the recipe on just about every site I visit, I’m going to save you the trouble and just get right to it. This recipe is easiest to work through divided into three parts; I’ll share each part’s ingredients and directions first and then drop my how-to video so you can see how it all comes together.
PART ONE: Lemon buttermilk cake recipe
- Rinds of 2 lemons
- 2 cups of sugar
- 4 sticks of unsalted butter, room temperature
- 6 large eggs, room temperature
- 3 cups + 1 tbsp of all-purpose flour
- 6 tbsp of cornstarch
- Alternatively, if you have cake flour, you can omit the cornstarch and use 3.5 cups of cake flour instead
- 3 tsp of baking powder
- 1 tsp of kosher salt
- 1 cup of buttermilk, room temperature
1. Pre-heat your oven to 350F (I used convection bake and probably should have dropped it to 325F).
2. Grease two springform pans; I used 10″ pans because that’s what I have, and they worked, but I think 8″ ones would be better — they’d certainly result in a taller cake.
3. Toss lemon rinds and sugar into a food processor and pulse for about 30 seconds. (Don’t bother washing this — you’ll be doing the same thing in part two below.)
4. Add your butter and cream with the lemon-sugar (this will take about 5 minutes).
5. Crack eggs and blend one at a time until all six are blended with the creamed butter mixture, then blend on high for another 2-3 minutes.
6. In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, cornstarch, baking powder and salt together.
7. Starting and ending with the flour mixture, alternate about 1/2 cup of flour to 1 tbsp of buttermilk and set your stand mixer to “stir.” Mix each one before adding the other, and alternate until you have about 1/2 cup of flour left but no remaining buttermilk.
8. Add the last of the flour to the mixing bowl and use a spatula or wooden spoon to stir the rest — just until it’s combined. You don’t want to over-mix here.
9. Pour half of the batter into one greased pan and half into the other.
10. Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until they’re golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean when you test it. Let cool in pans for about 10 minutes and then carefully transfer out of pans and onto wire racks.
PART TWO: Easy lemon curd recipe
Make the lemon curd as soon as you get your cakes in the oven.
- 1/2 cup of sugar
- Rind of 1 lemon
- Juice of 2 lemons
- 3 large eggs
- 6 tbsp of unsalted butter, cubed
1. Pulse your sugar and lemon rind together in your food processor for about 30 seconds.
2. In a small saucepan — BUT WITHOUT HEAT — whisk together your lemon-sugar, fresh lemon juice and eggs for about 15-20 seconds. (Note: it’s super important that you use fresh lemon juice to make lemon curd. I don’t know the technicalities but I know it won’t work if you try to take a shortcut and use lemon juice from a container.)
3. Now whisk everything together over low heat for about a minute.
4. Add the butter and keep whisking for another 5 minutes. Don’t leave this alone — whisk like the wind! It’ll gradually thicken and you know it’s ready when the mixture coats the back of a spoon. It will still be a bit runny and you’ll wonder if it’s really going to get even thicker, BUT IT WILL. Transfer it into a bowl, cover and refrigerate for at least an hour.
This reminds me of the time when… HA! JOKES! Let’s keep going.
PART THREE: Lemon whipped cream recipe
Don’t make your lemon whipped cream until your lemon curd is quite chilled and your lemon buttermilk cakes are cool to the touch.
- 1/4 cup of sugar
- Grated zest of 1 lemon
- 3 cups of COLD whipping cream
- OPTIONAL — stabilizer. If you’re serving this cake at a party and it’s going to get gobbled up the same day you make it, omit the stabilizer. But if you think you’ll have leftovers or you want to make this well ahead of your party early in the day, here are two ways to stabilize your whipped cream that are easy and work well:
- Option 1: add 3 tbsp of cornstarch to your whipping cream and whip as usual; this holds up well but I do find it adds a bit of a grittier texture than I like in a whipped cream
- Option 2 (and the one I prefer now that I’ve tried both): whip your whipping cream to the point just before it starts to solidify; then add 3/4 cup of full-fat sour cream and whip together until stiff peaks form. You may need to add a healthy pinch of sugar or some maple syrup to sweeten this up a bit, but I love the extra tang!
1. Add the sugar, lemon zest and (and stabilizer as above according to instructions, if using) to a stand mixer bowl and mix it up with a fork.
2. Pour in your chilled whipping cream and add a splash guard onto your stand mixer if you have one. This part can get messy.
3. Whip everything together on medium-high speed — until stiff peaks form.
Now you’re ready to assemble your two-tier lemon buttermilk cake. Whether you do this on a plate or cake stand is entirely up to you. If your cakes didn’t bake flat, you may wish to gently slice any rounded tops to make them flatter.
Make a lemon curd sandwich by placing one cake down and smothering it in lemon curd:
Then add the second cake on top and spread the lemon whipped cream all over:
If you added the cornstarch and feel like piping the bottom of the cake and/or adding any fancy-ness on top, now’s the time to go for it:
That’s it! I told you it was easy.
Here’s the entire process in less than three minutes:
Remember: I’m not a chef or a food blogger. I don’t have any training in the kitchen and I really only started experimenting with cooking from-scratch recipes thanks to self-isolation. If I can do this, you can do this. ENJOY!
DISCLAIMER: there isn’t one.