Strawberry & Lemon Layer Cake

Hello everyone! It’s that time of the year again…finals start this Friday, papers and essays are due, and I leave for Italy and Spain in 12 days. How am I supposed to focus on studying when I have packing for 2 months in Europe to worry about. I’m sure my professors would understand. Well because of this unfortunate predicament I am currently in, I should not be posting this delicious cake…but I am anyway. Just wait until you see the # of sticks of butter used at the end of the post. But don’t worry! This makes a huge cake and you won’t be eating the whole thing…will you?

I adapted this cake from a recipe from Kitchen Simplicity, a lovely blog I follow, but substituted lemons for limes because I already had 2 lemons in my fridge. I took it to West Virginia where I spent Easter with my cousins, Clint (more like an uncle), Andrea (aunt), Sarah & Emily (third cousins – I think?). I go see them every now and then (about twice a semester) when I can find a good weekend to spend time with the girls and just get a mini-vacation from Blacksburg. You see…us Houcks are a tight-knit family. All of my first cousins live in Virginia Beach with me and it just so happens that one of my cousins, Hayley, is also my best friend. I’m very lucky to be so close with my family. Any who, every summer in the first weekend of August, all of the Houcks (and I mean all) go to Mullens, West Virginia for the family reunion. It really is quite the event – what with all of the mud boggin’, vine swingin’, s’mores makin’, and singin’ “Take Me Home, Country Roads ” and “Wagon Wheel” up on Wink’s mountain while the little ones go on hay rides once it starts to get dark. Needless to say, I have quite a few memories from these family reunions and since I didn’t want to drive 5 hours home to Virginia Beach for Easter weekend, I decided to take a quick 1 1/2 hour drive to spend Easter with Clint and the girls. Do you know anybody else that stays with their second and third cousins for Easter? Like I said…I’m a lucky girl.

The first picture is from a while ago and I’m assuming we were in Virginia Beach because they don’t have sand in West Virginia as far as I know. I was very young, as you can see I’m the little munchkin with white hair on the left top of the pyramid, so I’m not positive about the location of this exquisite pyramid. The second picture is me and Emily on Easter Sunday at the church in Mullens where my Nanny and Papa used to go when they were young. Basically 75% of the congregation has my last name…I was introduced to everyone as “this is your cousin Maddie, Woody and Melva’s granddaughter and Tim’s daughter!” Yep, that’s me.

First step with this layer cake…making the whitecake! To begin tallying the of sticks of butter used, 3 goes into this cake. But like I said, don’t freak out! You will not eat this entire cake. Hopefully. You also fold in some whipped egg whites to make the cake very light and scrumptious. This was my first layer cake I had made without my Momma and let me prepare you and let you know that this was a bit of a process. It’s definitely worth it though! Just make it an event and invite some friends over to make this yummy cake with you 🙂 Great for summer!

Next step is the coconut lemon curd! I had never made a curd before, always heard of it but was freaked out because I thought I would accidentally scramble the egg yolks. However, make sure you make this curd because you already have yolks all by their lonesome because of the whites used in the cake! This is indeed very simple to make! You can make extra and spread it on toast or biscuits, or spread it in between two cookies for a yummy cookie sandwich. Notice the picture with the ancient KitchenAid juicer my grandpa gave me with the modern Keurig in the background. Oh yeah and add 3/4 stick of butter to the tally.

The next and final step is the frosting! Strawberry buttercream anyone? Make sure you have 4 more sticks of butter in your fridge. Crazy, I know. But so good.

To assemble the cake, cut the 2 cake rounds in half so that you have 4 layers. Then just spread the coconut lemon curd on each layer and then cover the whole cake with the strawberry buttercream. YUM! As you can see, I’m not a professional pastry chef or baker, so forgive me for the somewhat uneven layers. It all tastes the same though!

Strawberry & Lemon Layer Cake: (adapted from Kitchen Simplicity)

Prep Time: 30 minutes          Cook Time: 35 minutes          Servings: 8-10 generous slices

White Cake
  • 3 cups cake flour*
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 1/4 cups sugar, divided
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup milk
  • 8 large egg whites, room temperature (save the yolks for the curd below)

Combine flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. Beat butter and 2 cups sugar for several minutes until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla. Mixing on low-speed, add flour in 3 additions, alternating with milk, starting and ending with flour. Beat just until combined.

In a clean bowl, beat egg whites on low until foamy. Add 1/4 cup sugar and beat on high just until stiff, glossy peaks form when beater is lifted. Gently fold 1/3 egg whites into butter/flour mixture to loosen batter. Fold in remaining whites.

Divide batter between 2 9-inch round cake pans sprayed with cooking spray; smooth tops. Bake at 350ºF for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. Allow to cool 20 minutes before removing from pans and peeling off parchment. Cool completely on wire wracks before slicing in half.

*To make your own cake flour place 2 tablespoons cornstarch into a 1 cup measuring cup, spoon in enough all-purpose flour to fill. Sift several times to combine. This makes 1 cup cake flour.

Coconut Lemon Curd
  • 1 (15 oz) can coconut milk
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 3/4 stick butter
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 6 eggs yolk

Place 1 cup coconut milk and sugar in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook until sugar is dissolved. Mix together the remaining coconut milk and the cornstarch. Pour into the saucepan, stirring to combine. Lower heat to medium, add butter and whisk until melted together. Whisk in lemon juice and egg yolks. Cook, stirring often, until thick and it coats the back of a spoon. Do not overcook or eggs will start to scramble. Allow the mixture to cool slightly and then pour into a heat-proof bowl. Place plastic wrap directly on the surface of the curd to stop condensation. Allow to cool completely before refrigerating. Beat, to loosen, before spreading on cake layers.

Strawberry Buttercream
  • 4 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 4 cups icing sugar, sifted
  • 1/4 cup strawberry puree (from frozen, thawed berries is fine)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

In a stand mixer, beat butter for 6 minutes, until pale and creamy. Add remaining ingredients and beat for an additional 6 minutes, until light and creamy.

If not using all of it right away beat by hand with a spatula, to remove any air bubbles, before using.

To Assemble

Trim tops of cakes flat. Carefully cut each cake in half to make 4 layers of cake. Place one cake layer on serving platter, spread with some of the coconut lemon curd. Place another cake layer on top and spread with more coconut lemon curd. Repeat one more time and then top with the last cake layer (you will have leftover curd). Crumb coat the cake to glue the crumbs to the cake and to make sure none of the curd shows through the frosting. Refrigerate 10 minutes to set. Frost as desired. Refrigerate until serving.

 love, maddie


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