This lemon curd cake is the spring cake of my dreams. Four layers of fluffy vanilla sponge cake soaked in a lemon simple syrup and layered with chantilly cream and generous swirls of homemade lemon curd.
Why you’ll love this recipe
- The sponge is so light and fluffy and flavored with an easy lemon simple syrup.
- The lemon curd is sweet, tangy and sharp but balanced with a fluffy chantilly cream.
- The cake recipe is very forgiving and allows for many substitutions and dietary restrictions.
Make sure to check out my genoise for more details on this type of sponge.
Ingredients & Substitutions
- Flour: I use all purpose flour in most of my recipes and I HIGHLY recommend using a digital scale, as flour is so often over measured. Cake flour also works well here.
- Sugar: I used granulated sugar in the cake and lemon curd and I don’t recommend reducing it or swapping it.
- I use a little powdered sugar in the chantilly cream.
- Baking Powder: sponge cakes are known to not use a leavening agent so I didn’t include it in the recipe but many people have issues with genoise cakes rising properly. If you want, you can add in 1 ½ tsp of baking powder with the flour for a little insurance.
- Butter: I like to use salted butter in my lemon curd but it really doesn’t matter, unsalted is fine too.
- Eggs: make sure to use room temperature, large eggs. The weight of the eggs should be between 50-60g (without the shells).
- Pop them in hot water for a few minutes if they’re cold.
- Butter: I like to use salted butter but unsalted works well too. Make sure it’s melted but not hot.
- Heavy Whipping Cream: For the chantilly cream, make sure the heavy whipping cream is 36-40% fat and use it cold from the fridge.
- Vanilla: I usually just use a simple vanilla extract in cake batters but I like to use vanilla bean paste for buttercreams and frostings. Either works fine.
- Lemon: you’ll need at least two (large) lemons for the lemon curd and simple syrup.
Step 1: Make the lemon curd by whisking together the lemon, sugar, eggs, salt and butter in a small pot over medium-low heat.
Step 2: Make the lemon simple syrup by bringing the lemon, sugar and water to a slow boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for just a couple of minutes. Remove and pour into a heat safe jar to cool completely (can refrigerate).
Step 2: Make the sponge cake by separating the eggs and beating the egg whites with the sugar until stiff peaks form.
Step 3: Add the egg yolks, vanilla and butter and beat at medium-high speed until it’s combined, just a few seconds.
Step 4: Sift in the flour and salt (and baking powder if using) and beat at medium-low speed, just until the flour is mixed in. Use a rubber spatula to fold the mixture a couple of times to scrape the edge of the bowl.
Step 5: Distribute the batter evenly among un-greased pans lined with parchment paper, about 17 ounces each, and bake for 25-ish minutes. The tops will be golden brown, no longer wet and spring back when you press on them gently.
Step 6: Remove from the oven, run a knife along the edge to release the cakes from the edge of the cake tin and let it cool in the pan until it’s easy to remove, about 10-20 minutes. Once the cakes have cooled completely, use a large serrated knife or a cake leveler to slice in half.
Step 7: Make the chantilly cream by beating together the heavy whipping cream, powdered sugar and vanilla just until you reach stiff peaks. Don’t over-beat (but if you do, try folding in a touch more cream just until it’s blended in).
Step 8: Assemble the cake by placing the first layer of cake onto a flat surface. Use 2-3 Tbsp of the lemon simple syrup to brush onto the slice side of the cake.
Spread a generous layer of chantilly cream on top (don’t go all the way off the edge of the cake, give it a centimeter or so because it will spread more when you place the next layer of cake on top). Swirl in some lemon curd and repeat.
For the top layer of cake, brush with simple syrup before placing it on top and then place it with the sliced side facing down.
Refrigerate the cake for at least an hour to set and serve slightly chilled.
How to frost/decorate this lemon curd cake
If you want to cover the outside with the chantilly cream too, it may be a little difficult since the cake is so light and the cream is so soft. You can lightly cover it after refrigerating (or freezing) it for a little until it’s more sturdy.
If you want to actually frost it nice and decorate the outside of this cake you’ll have to pipe a border of buttercream around the edge of the first layer of cake and then use the chantilly cream and berries as the filling. You can see how I did that for my cranberry orange cake.
Make sure to check out my cookbook Frosted for a million frosting options and how to use them! I also have an ebook, Frosted 2.0, that shows step-by-step photos of all the types of frostings in the cookbook. You can download that below.
Frequently Asked Questions
You can use dairy free butter in the lemon curd and the cake and if there’s a dairy free cream you like, you can use that for the chantilly cream.
Cakes made with chantilly cream are super fragile and nor very sturdy for decorating. If you do want to decorate the outside of this cake I recommend making a buttercream like Swiss meringue buttercream and piping a border around the edge of each layer of cake. Then use the chantilly cream and lemon curd as the filling.
You can see how I did that for my cranberry orange cake, chocolate blueberry cake, etc.
Two 9 inch cakes but they will be thinner – reduce bake time by a few minutes
Two 7 inch cakes but they will be thicker – increase bake time by a few minutes.
How to make ahead
You can make the sponges a day in advance and trim them before assembling. You can even make them a few days in advance and freeze them. If you feel they’re drier, just use a little more simple syrup.
The lemon curd can also be made in advance. Store it covered in the refrigerator for a few weeks.
The chantilly cream needs to be made right before assembling the cake. Whipped cream doesn’t hold up great so I recommend making that and assembling the cake the day of or the day before serving.
How to store finished cake
The cake can be stored in the refrigerator for 4-5 days.
To freeze the whole cake, refrigerate it until it’s firm. Then wrap it in plastic wrap so it’s completely covered. Then wrap it in aluminum foil and freeze.
To freeze slices, place the slices in an airtight container and then place the container in a freezer bag, squeezing out all the excess air.
Bring it back to room temperature by thawing at room temperature for a few hours before serving or in the refrigerator overnight.
Thanks so much for reading today’s post, if you have any questions just comment down below. Make sure to leave it in the comment section because I can’t answer in the rating section.
If you make this super bright and springy lemon curd cake, I’d love it if you left a star rating for me. If it’s less than five stars, please let me know why! 🙂
As always, have a blessed day and happy baking!
Lemon Curd Cake Recipe
- 8 large eggs room temperature, separated
- 1 1/2 cup (300g) granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup (113g) salted butter melted
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups (180g) all-purpose flour spooned and leveled
- 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
Lemon Simple Syrup
- 1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup (2oz) lemon juice 1 large lemon
- 3/4 cup (6oz) water
- 1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar
- 1 large egg room temperature
- 1 large egg yolk room temperature
- 1/4 cup (2oz) freshly-squeezed lemon juice (1 large or 2 small lemons)
- 1 tsp lemon zest 1 lemon
- 3 Tbsp (42g) unsalted butter melted
- 1/8 tsp fine sea salt
- 2 cups (18oz) heavy whipping cream cold (18 ounces in weight not fluid ounces)
- 1/2 cup (60g) powdered sugar spooned and leveled
- 2 tsp vanilla bean paste
- tiny pinch fine sea salt
- Preheat the oven to 350F/177C convection (or 325F/162C conventional (no fan)) and line the bottom of two 8 inch (20 cm) round pans with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, use a whisk attachment to beat together the egg whites and granulated sugar.8 large eggs, 1 1/2 cup (300g) granulated sugar
- Beat for a few minutes at full speed, until the meringue is fluffy and holds stiff peaks.
- Add the egg yolks, butter and vanilla extract and beat at medium speed, just until they’re combined.1/2 cup (113g) salted butter, 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Sift the flour and salt over the batter and turn the mixer up to medium speed, just until it’s combined.1 1/2 cups (180g) all-purpose flour, 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
- Use a rubber spatula to scrape the edge of the bowl and distribute evenly between the prepared pans, about 17.5 ounces each and bake for about 25 minutes. The tops should be golden brown and spring back when you gently press on the center.
- Remove the cakes from the oven and run a knife around the edge of the cake to release it from the pan. Allow it to cool for 15 minutes in the pan and then remove the cakes and place them onto a cooling rack or a tea towel.
- Allow the cake to cool completely and if desired, use a large serrated knife to slice each layer in halves or three thin layers.
- Combine the sugar, lemon juice and water in a small pot and place over medium-high heat. Bring a soft boil and reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer for just 2-3 minutes and pour into a heat safe jar to cool. Cool completely before using on the cake.1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar, 1/4 cup (2oz) lemon juice, 3/4 cup (6oz) water
- Combine the sugar, eggs, lemon juice & zest, butter and salt in a small saucepan over medium-low heat and whisk continuously until it thickens, about 5 minutes. The curd should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar, 1 large egg, 1/4 cup (2oz) freshly-squeezed lemon juice, 1 tsp lemon zest, 3 Tbsp (42g) unsalted butter, 1/8 tsp fine sea salt, 1 large egg yolk
- While it’s still hot, press the curd through a sieve into another bowl/jar, cover it and allow it to cool completely to room temperature. Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator.
- Sift the powdered sugar and salt into the bowl of the stand mixer, fit with a whisk attachment (or a large bowl with a handheld mixer).1/2 cup (60g) powdered sugar
- Pour the heavy whipping cream on top, along with the vanilla and turn the mixer up to medium speed for a few seconds until it starts to thicken (if you go full speed it will splash everywhere).2 cups (18oz) heavy whipping cream, 2 tsp vanilla bean paste, tiny pinch fine sea salt
- Turn the mixer up to medium-high and whip just until it begins to hold stiff peaks.
- If you over-mix and it’s no longer smooth, try adding a little more cream and fold it in until it’s smooth again.
- Once the cakes, simple syrup and lemon curd have cooled completely, use a large serrated knife to slice the two cake layers in half so you have four thin layers.
- Place the first layer of cake onto a flat surface and brush it with simple syrup. Spread a layer of the chantilly cream on top and then swirl in 1/4 of lemon curd.
- Repeat with the rest of the layers. When you get to the top layer, I like to brush that layer with simple syrup before I add it to the cake and then place it on top with the sliced side facing down.
- Top generously with more cream and a swirl of lemon curd and refrigerate the cake for at least an hour or overnight.
- Store the cake covered in the refrigerator and serve cold or just slightly chilled.