A delightfully tart and sweet cake with lemon curd and cream cheese buttercream frosting between layers of soft lemon-poppy seed cake.
For the cake:
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 4 eggs
- 3/4 cup milk
- 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon zest
- 2 tablespoons poppy seeds
- 1 container (10 oz) lemon curd
For the cream cheese frosting:
- 16 ounces (2 blocks) cream cheese, softened
- 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
- 8–10 cups powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon zest
- 1–2 tablespoons poppy seeds
- Heat oven to 350°F. Line bottoms of three 8-inch round cake pans with parchment paper, then spray bottoms and sides with cooking spray.
- In a large bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda until well mixed.
- In a separate large bowl using an electric hand mixer or in the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, beat granulated sugar, 1/2 cup butter, vegetable oil and vanilla on medium-high speed 1 1/2 to 2 minutes until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time on medium-high speed until well combined.
- Add half of flour mixture to butter mixture. Stir together on low speed until well combined. Stir in milk and 1/2 cup lemon juice until combined. Stir in remaining flour mixture until just combined. Stir in 2 tablespoons lemon zest and 2 tablespoons poppy seeds until just combined.
- Divide batter evenly among three prepared pans. Bake on center rack of oven 23-27 minutes or until lightly golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Cool cakes in pans 2-3 minutes, then carefully transfer cakes to cooling racks to cool completely.
- Meanwhile, make the frosting: In a large bowl with an electric hand mixer or in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat cream cheese and 3/4 cup butter on medium-high speed 1-2 minutes until smooth, light and fluffy. Add 5 cups powdered sugar; stir on low speed until just incorporated, then increase to medium-high speed to fully combine. Beat in 1 tablespoon lemon juice and 1 tablespoon lemon zest. Stir, then beat in just enough of remaining powdered sugar until a smooth, creamy and sturdy frosting forms. Stir in 1-2 tablespoons poppy seeds (if you want a cleaner, whiter look, add 1 tablespoon; if you want a highly speckled look, add 2 tablespoons) until just combined.
- Place one cake layer on a cake stand or serving plate. Top with half of container of lemon curd (about 5 ounces); spread in an even layer to within a 1/2-inch of edges. Top with 1 cup of cream cheese frosting, in dollops; gently spread over curd to cover entire top of cake layer.
- Top with second cake layer. Repeat process, topping and spreading with remaining lemon curd and another 1 cup frosting.
- Top with third cake layer. Frost top and sides of cake with remaining frosting (you might not use all the frosting; just use as much as you want to cover the cake). Refrigerate, covered, until ready to serve.
- If the tops of your cakes are domed, use a sharp serrated knife to cut off the domes before stacking in layers. OR, use bake-even strips like I did (they’re seriously magical).
- For best results, use a large offset spatula to frost cake. For those clean, smooth sides, I used a bench scraper and gently rotated the cake stand while holding the bench scraper along the sides for a smooth finish.
- Generally speaking, buttercream-frosted cakes can be stored covered at room temperature. But because this cake has a layer of lemon curd, it needs to be stored covered in the refrigerator (it tastes better cold anyway, IMHO).
- This recipe is adapted from Lindsay of Life, Love and Sugar, the queen of cakes.
Keywords: lemon cake, layer cake, cream cheese buttercream, buttercream frosting