Sep 232017
Lemon Buttermilk Birthday Cake

As I mentioned in my previous post, Lucy’s birthday was last weekend and we had a party! It was very nice (and tiring); we always enjoy having people over. Every time Lucy’s family visits we say “oh, just bring something small”, and every time they out-do themselves. I’m sure we had enough food to comfortably feed 30 people, lol. At least everyone went home with lunches and snacks for the week.



Lucy requested a lemon cake this year, and I found this recipe from Well Plated on Pinterest. Last year I made a 3-tiered honey butter monster cake so this year I opted for a more reasonable 2-tiered cake.

I suppose I should explain the decorations… I said to Lucy that I just don’t have time to do any complicated decorations with work and commuting, so I took her to Sainsbury’s and we picked out the most offensively-twee decorations we could find. I thought they were unicorns, but my mom was quick to point out that they are sans horn, so I guess we got ponies and rainbows? Lucy also really likes the sugared jelly diamonds, so I added those too. This cake was actually for Lucy and her brother-in-law (whose birthday is the day before). I like to think it suites both of their personalities…


I absolutely loved how the cake itself turned out. It’s super moist and dense from the buttermilk and melts in your mouth – a great alternative to a typical sponge! However, the icing just didn’t work. I’m not sure if it was the ratios in the recipe itself, if it was due to using light cream cheese, or maybe the humidity, but this icing was a gloopy mess. 🙁

I tried saving the icing by adding over double the amount of powdered sugar called for, but it was still a bit runny and it made the icing extremely sweet. We let our 18 month-old niece have a taste of cake and that sent her running back-and-forth in the flat, grinning like the Cheshire cat. SUGAR!!!


I would definitely recommend trying out this cake, but go for your own tried-and-true cream cheese frosting, or standard buttercream. I can also see this cake working well as a “naked cake” with a bit of buttercream in the centre, or even halving the recipe and making a tray bake with a bit of powdered sugar and lemon on top (tasty!)



2 1/2 cups cake flour*
1 tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
4 large egg whites
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 tsp. grated lemon zest
4 ounces (8 tbsp.) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 tsp. pure lemon extract

For the icing: Because I really didn’t like this recipe’s icing, I suggest adding some lemon zest and juice to the buttercream or cream cheese frosting you normally use.

*Cake flour- I don’t think this exists in the UK so you need to measure out 2 1/2 cups of flour, take 5 tbsp. of the flour out, and add in 5 tbsp. of cornflour (cornstarch). Sift together 5 times. Cake flour makes the layers fluffy.



Preheat the oven to 180C and butter and flour two 8 inch round cake tins. Line with parchment paper and butter the paper.

In a medium bowl, sift together your cake flour (or sifted flour mixture), baking powder, and salt. In a Pyrex jug, whisk together the buttermilk and egg whites.

Place the granulated sugar and lemon zest in a bowl and rub together until sugar is moist and fragrant. Add the butter and beat on medium speed with your electric mixer for 3 minutes, until light and fluffy. Beat in the lemon extract.

On medium speed, add one-third of the flour mixture, then half of the egg mixture and beat until combined. While beating, add in the next third of the dry ingredients, then the remaining egg mix, and beat until smooth before adding in the remaining dry ingredients. Beat for another 2 minutes, ensuring that the batter is well combined and full of air.

Divide the batter evenly between your cake tins and smooth the tops with a rubber spatula. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until cakes spring back when touched.


Let cool for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Decorate as desired.


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