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Triple Lemon Layer Cake

  • Author: Adapted from Fine Cooking
  • Prep Time: 45 mins
  • Cook Time: 35 mins
  • Total Time: 1 hour 20 mins
  • Yield: 1 8-inch layer cake 1x



For the cake:

  • 2 1/3 cups (or 9 1/4 oz if using a scale, as I did) cake flour, plus more for cake pans
  • 2 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar, divided
  • 2 tablespoons lemon zest
  • 3/4 cup (6 oz, or 1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for cake pans
  • 1 cup milk, room temperature
  • 5 egg whites, room temperature
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 cup lemon curd, chilled

For the frosting:

  • 1 cup (8 oz, or 2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons lemon zest
  • 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice


  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Generously butter bottom and sides of 2 8-inch round cake pans. Dust with flour, then turn pans upside down and tap bottoms of pans to release excess flour.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk cake flour, baking powder and salt until well combined.
  3. In a food processor, pulse 1/4 cup sugar with lemon zest until well combined.
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment or in a large bowl using an electric hand mixer, beat butter and lemon sugar on medium speed 1 1/2 minutes until light and fluffy. Add remaining 1 1/2 cups sugar and beat 1 1/2 minutes until smooth.
  5. On low speed, stir in flour mixture and milk alternating in batches, starting and ending with flour mixture. Scrape sides of bowl with a spatula and stir until just combined.
  6. In another large bowl with a clean electric hand mixer, beat egg whites on medium speed until foamy. Add cream of tartar and beat on medium-high speed 1 to 2 minutes until stiff peaks form.
  7. Carefully fold one-quarter of egg white mixture into cake batter just until combined. Add remaining egg white mixture, a quarter at a time, folding in after each addition until just combined.
  8. Divide batter evenly among prepared cake pans. Bake 35 minutes until a toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean. Cool cakes 10 minutes in pans, then gently invert cakes onto a cooling rack to cool completely.*
  9. When cakes are completely cooled, use a long serrated knife to slice each cake in half horizontally (so you end up with 4 thin cake layers). Gently slice off any domed tops from cake layers, if needed.
  10. Place one layer, cut side down, on a serving plate. Spread 1/3 cup lemon curd on top in an even layer; top with another cake layer. Spread another 1/3 cup lemon curd on top in an even layer. Top with another cake layer. Spread remaining 1/3 cup lemon curd on top in an even layer, then top with final cake layer, cut side down.
  11. Make the frosting: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment or in a large bowl with an electric hand mixer, beat butter and lemon zest until light and fluffy. Add powdered sugar in a few batches, stirring at first then increasing to medium speed just until combined. Add lemon juice and beat just until combined.
  12. Use an offset spatula to frost tops and sides of cake. Let frosting set a while before serving.
  13. *NOTE: At this point, I covered the cooled cakes with plastic wrap and let them chill in the fridge for a few hours so they’d be easier to cut/handle/frost, but you can also proceed with the recipe without chilling the cakes.