Luscious Lemon Cake

Luscious Lemon Cake

Club Tropicana - dreams are free. Not much chance of boarding a flight and leaving tonight. But fun and sunshine we still have sprinkles for everyone.  

While travel is restricted and celebrations are on hold, use the  time wisely to plan a party to behold. The next time we gather it will be very special, and we have just the cake to make it zing. A luscious lemon cake, paired with lemon Swiss meringue buttercream, filled with lemon curd and topped with meringue kisses. Nothing says party like sprinkles, so naturally they take pride of place on this celebration centerpiece.   
The success of this cake comes down to the generous use of lemon zest, and sour cream for a tender crumb. Ground almonds bring a lovely structure, which is perfect for soaking up the zingy lemon syrup.  We’ve included the recipes for lemon curd and meringues, but for heaven's sake if this all sounds too hard use store bought! If you are going to go the extra mile, the lemon curd and meringues can be made up to a week ahead. Keep the curd in the fridge and meringues in an airtight container in a cool place.

Clinking glasses and happy chatter. Let’s get ready to celebrate!


This is a generous cake, enough to feed a crowd. Ours are baked in 3 layers in 20cm tins (all the better to fill with curd). Alternatively this could be baked in 20cm round tins in 2 layers, adjust the cooking time accordingly. If you don’t have enough tins or space in your oven to bake them all at once, uncooked batter will happily wait it’s turn on the bench.


  • 375g butter (room temperature)
  • 375g caster sugar
  • Zest of 8 lemons  
  • 6 eggs 
  • 420g flour 
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 225g ground almonds
  • 375g sour cream (room temperature)
  • Syrup: 
  • 90g caster sugar 
  • 3/4 cup water 
  • 3/4 cup lemon juice 

Preheat the oven to 170ºC. Grease and line three 20cm cake tins. Using an electric mixer, beat together the butter, sugar and zest until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time beating well after each addition. 
Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a mixing bowl. Add the ground almonds and stir to combine. 
Add the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture and combine gently with a spatula. Finally add the sour cream, giving it another gentle mix before distributing the batter evenly between the tins. This is a stiff batter. Smooth out the batter and place into the preheated oven. Bake for 20 mins before opening the oven to check and rotate the tins. (Opening the oven before 20 mins will result in a sinking cake as the batter requires this time to stabilise the rise). Check the cakes again after another 5 mins. If the cake springs back when lightly pressed and a toothpick inserted comes out clean, the cake is ready. 
While the cake is baking, make the syrup. Bring all the syrup ingredients to the boil over a low heat on the cooktop. When the cakes are cooked take them out of the oven and immediately pick them all over with a toothpick making indentations for the syrup to sink into. Pour the syrup over the cakes and leave to cool. 




  • 5 large egg whites
  • 260g caster sugar
  • 340g unsalted butter cut into cubes (room temperature)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon essence
  • pinch of salt
  • Tools:
  • A free standing mixer with a whisk and paddle attachment
  • A hand held electric mixer or a manual whisk
  • A pot that is large enough for your mixing bowl to sit on filled with approximately 5cm water
  • Sugar thermometer (not entirely necessary)

Ensure your mixing bowl, whisk and whisk attachment for your mixer are completely free from grease. You can do this by wiping them down with a paper towel that has been dampened with a little lemon juice. 
Add the egg whites and sugar to the bowl of your mixer and place over a pot of simmering water. Immediately start whisking constantly but gently. You want to dissolve the sugar without cooking the egg. We use a hand held electric mixer on a low speed but you could easily use a manual whisk. 
When the mixture reaches 75ºC, or you can no longer feel any grainy bits of sugar when you rub some of the mixture between your fingers, take the mixing bowl off the heat and place the bowl back on the mixer with the whisk attachment. Mix on high until you get stiff peaks and the bowl is cool to touch. About 10 min. You are aiming to have the bowl and meringue the same temperature as the butter.
Switch to the paddle attachment and start dropping in one cube of butter at a time. It’s important to know that once the butter is added the mixture will take on a sloppy, curdled texture, this is normal! Like a stroppy toddler, this is just a stage your Buttercream will go though. Once all the butter is added you need to keep mixing until your mixture transforms into a silky-smooth dreamlike Swiss meringue buttercream. Once this magical transformation has occurred, add the salt and lemon essence and mix again to combine. Taste to make sure you’re happy with the balance of flavours. 


This recipe is from The Meringue Girls in London. These girls have built an empire on meringue so we figure they know a thing or two! It’s handy to know that meringue requires a ratio of 2 parts sugar to one part egg white. So double the weight of sugar to the weight of the egg whites. Meringue made with 3 egg whites makes a suitable quantity to fit on 2 trays in a regular oven. Fat is the enemy of billowy meringue so ensure the mixer bowl and whisk are clean and fat free before you begin. 


  • 3 separated egg whites (keep the yolks for the curd) 
  • 180g of caster sugar (this is based on the average weight of 90g for three egg whites, to get an exact ratio you can weigh your egg whites and double that weight of caster sugar. 
  • A few drops of lemon essence 


  • Small ovenproof baking dish lined with baking paper. 
  • Timer
  • A freestanding mixer fitted with a whisk attachment and bowl (grease free) 
  • A piping bag fitted with a tip of your choosing. We used a round piping tip approx 15cm in diameter 
  • 2 oven trays lined with baking paper. 
  • Silicone spatula 

Preheat the oven to 200ºC. Put the sugar into the small ovenproof dish lined with baking paper and place in the preheated oven on a middle rack. Put the timer on for 7 mins. Place the egg whites into the mixer bowl and start whisking at a low speed. When the timer goes remove the sugar from the oven and immediately turn off the oven leaving the door open so it can cool down quickly. Now turn the mixer up to medium/high and start adding spoonfuls of the hot sugar into the egg white mixture. When all the sugar has been added, let the mixer run on high until the meringue is thick, glossy and stiff peaks are held, about 5 mins. When you get to this stage add a few drops of essence and give it all a final mix. 
While the meringue is whisking, adjust the oven racks so you have one above and one below the centre of the oven. Check your oven temperature - you are aiming for it to be at 90ºC for baking the meringues. You may need to leave the door open for a little longer for it to cool down, otherwise shut the door and set the temp to 90º.
Using a rubber spatula place the meringue into the prepared piping bag. (A tip for getting the baking paper to stick to the trays is to place a small dollop of meringue in each of the corners on the tray and smooth the baking paper on top of it.) 
Now it’s time for piping! Pipe out your kisses by keeping the bag tight, straight and directly above your baking tray. Squeeze from a 2cm height from the baking tray and then let go before pulling up to form the lovely peaks. 
Place the trays into the 90ºC oven. Shut the oven door and leave to bake for 3 hours. When done, resist the urge to check the meringues and leave the oven door closed until completely cool, about an hour. Take them out of the oven and store in an airtight container until ready to use. They can be made up to 2 weeks in advance. 



Almost every recipe for lemon curd will tell you to gently heat the lemon, egg and butter mixture in a bowl over a pot of simmering water. Australian cook Stephanie Alexander de bunks this myth in her book ‘The Cooks Companion’. This simplified recipe is from her.   


  • 4 egg yolks 
  • 150g caster sugar 
  • 60g butter
  • 2 tsps lemon zest 
  • 100ml lemon juice 

Whisk together egg yolks and sugar, until combined but not frothy. Tip into a heavy based saucepan and add the butter, zest and juice. Stir constantly over a medium heat bringing it to a simmer. As soon as the mixture has thickened and bubbles appear remove from the heat. (If the mixture isn’t entirely smooth you can whizz it up with an immersion blender or pass through a sieve). Leave the mixture to cool and transfer to a clean jar. This can be made weeks in advance and stored in the fridge. 



You will need:

  • Lemon cake layers
  • 1 x lemon Swiss meringue buttercream recipe 
  • A couple of drops of yellow gel food colouring 
  • 1x recipe of lemon curd 
  • An assortment of meringues to decorate 
  • Sweet Palette Sprinkles 


  • Long serrated knife (bread knife)
  • Cake decorating turntable (optional) 
  • Cake board or flat plate suitable for serving your cake on
  • Piping bag fitted with a piping tip approx 1cm diameter (alternatively, if you are using disposable piping bags you can cut the end off to make a similar sized hole)
  • Small offset palette knife
  • A cake scraper or medium straight or offset palette knife
  • Small mixing bowl
  • Small silicone spatula 

Remove the cakes from the tins. Peel away the baking paper. Use the serrated knife to gently trim the tops off the cake layers. Making them as flat as possible. If using a turntable, place the cake board or plate on to the centre of it. Add your first cake layer, top side up. Take care to ensure your cake is placed in the centre of the board/plate. 
Fill the piping bag with about a cup of the meringue buttercream.  Pipe the buttercream around the perimeter of the cake. This makes a dam that will encase the curd, stopping it from seeping out of the sides of the cake. 
Next, spoon about 1/2 a cup of lemon curd inside the dam and use the offset spatula to smooth it out. 
Gently place the next cake layer on top, then repeat the process of piping a dam around the perimeter and filling the middle with the curd. For the final cake layer place it on top with the bottom facing up.
Next, using the offset spatula cover the entire cake with a thin layer of buttercream. This crumb coat will seal in any crumbs and make for a smoother final layer of buttercream. Place the cake in the fridge and leave to set for about an hour. 
Colour the buttercream while the cake is chilling. In a separate mixing bowl add about half of the remaining buttercream.  Add a drop of the yellow colouring and mix in with the silicone spatula. You may need to add an additional drop of colour to reach your desired shade. 
After an hour take the cake out of the fridge and place it back onto the turntable. Starting with the uncoloured buttercream, dollop a generous amount onto the top of the cake. Using an offset spatula spread it out evenly, pushing any excess buttercream over the edge of the cake. Now, using the spatula spread patches of the yellow buttercream around the sides of the cake. Fill in the uncovered sides of the cake with more of the uncoloured buttercream. Wipe your spatula clean and use it to smooth the buttercream around the cake. This will blend the yellow and create a water-colour effect. To reveal more yellow, gently go over those areas again until you achieve the desired look. 
Now for the finishing touches to your pièce de résistance! Take some of your meringues and place them on the top of the cake in an arrangement you like. Tip some of your sprinkles into a small bowl and gently place them around the sides of your cake in a random pattern. Store your cake in the fridge, but take out 2 - 3 hours before you wish to serve. 

Simply the zest! 

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