The City Magazine Since 1975

Lou Lou Lemon Cake

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For the lemon syrup:

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon

For the lemon curd:

  • 1 1/8 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 4 yolks
  • 3/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 10 oz. unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 tsp. powdered gelatin

For the vanilla cake:

  • 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 Tbs. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 lb. unsalted butter
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp. canola oil
  • 1 1/2 Tbs. pure vanilla extract
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream

For the almond sponge cake:
Color Paste:

  • 2 oz. unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 oz. egg whites (whites of 2 large eggs)
  • 2-4 drops yellow food color (number of drops depends on desired depth of yellow)

Almond Sponge:

  • 3 eggs
  • Heaped 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • Heaped 1/2 cup almond flour (or substitute all-purpose flour)
  • 1 mounded Tbs. all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 oz. unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1 Tbs. granulated sugar

For the Italian meringue:
*Make just before serving.

  • 1 1/8 cups sugar
  • 1/8 cup water
  • 4 egg whites

To assemble:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened

For the lemon syrup:
Bring all ingredients to a boil. Remove from heat and cool.

For the lemon curd:
Place first five ingredients over a double boiler and whisk until thickened. Remove top of double boiler from heat and slowly whisk in butter.

Sprinkle gelatin over one tablespoon of cold water. Melt gelatin gently in microwave and whisk into thickened curd mixture.

Place in container, cool to room temperature, and cover. Must be room temperature before using.

*Baker’s note: The curd may be made several days ahead and refrigerated.

For the vanilla cake:
Preheat oven to 325°F. Spray a nine-inch round cake pan with three-inch sides with Pam or other baking spray.

Mix flour, baking powder, and salt together and sift well. Set aside.

Using a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in oil and vanilla extract. Add eggs on medium speed, one at a time. Scrape down bowl and mix again thoroughly. Add dry ingredients alternately with cream, scraping bowl down in between each addition.

Pour batter into cake pan. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. Immediately flip onto cardboard cake circle.

For the almond sponge cake:
Using a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Scrape down bowl. Add flour. Slowly add whites to form a smooth paste. Add food color.

Spread about half of paste in a very thin layer onto a silicone baking mat. Drag a small spatula through the paste, creating a wave pattern by removing paste in some areas. Place mat on a baking sheet and freeze. The remaining paste may be frozen for future use.

Almond Sponge:
Preheat oven to 325°F.

Place first four ingredients in bowl of a stand mixer and whip with whisk attachment until thickened, about 10 minutes. Add melted butter. Remove bowl from mixer.

Place whites and sugar into a separate mixing bowl and whisk until soft peaks form.

Fold whites into egg/flour batter. Spread batter gently over frozen color paste. Bake immediately for 15 to 25 minutes, or until lightly golden and springy to touch. Cool, flip over, and gently peel off silicone mat.

For the Italian meringue:
*Make just before serving.

Bring sugar and water to a boil and continue boiling until bubbles pop slowly and temperature measures around 248°F.

Whisk whites in a stand mixer until they are just beginning to form soft peaks. Carefully pour hot sugar syrup down side of bowl, increasing mixer speed and whipping until egg whites form shiny stiff peaks.

To assemble:
Use a 10-inch loose-bottom round cake pan with three-inch sides or a 10-inch springform pan.

Lightly spray pan and dust with sugar to help cake release.

Place lemon curd in a mixing bowl. Using a stand mixer with whip attachment, slowly whip in butter until curd comes to a thicker consistency. Place lemon curd cream in a piping bag.

Cut very top of vanilla cake off. Cut remaining cake into three even layers. Set aside.

Cut two 2 ½-inch wide strips of almond sponge cake. Wrap strips of cake around inside of the cake pan; you will need two to complete the ring.

Place a layer of cake on base of pan and brush with lemon syrup.

Pipe a ring of lemon curd around edge of cake. Tap pan on counter to eliminate air bubbles. Place more lemon cream in center of the cake and spread evenly.

Place second cake layer on top of cream, pipe with lemon cream, and top with third cake layer. Top last layer of cake with remaining lemon cream. Cake should now be even with top of almond sponge cake. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

When ready to serve, unmold cake from pan and place on a serving platter. Prepare Italian meringue. Top cake with Italian meringue and lightly brown meringue to a golden color using a mini blowtorch.

Allow the cake to sit for at least 15 minutes so the flavors come through when eating.

*Baker’s Note: If you do not wish to use the almond sponge, you can assemble cake in a nine-inch round pan and cover in meringue. You will need to double meringue recipe to have enough.