For the wedding cake I made, there were three round tiers measuring 6″, 9″ and 12″ in diameter. Harri had requested that the top two tiers be lemon and the bottom tier be chocolate, so after much testing of recipes, here’s the lemon cake I ended up using.
Each tier was a three layer cake, and each layer was baked separately (as opposed to having baked one cake and cut it into three layers). The lemon cake was essentially three lemon drizzle cakes (I used Tana Ramsay’s recipe) stacked on top of one another and separated by a thickened version of Delia’s lemon curd.
As I only had one tin of each size, I baked the first layers of the 6″ and 9″ cakes at the same time, followed by the second and the third. The recipe below makes enough batter for a single 6″ and 9″ layer, however you’ll need to multiply it by 3 if you’re making an entire wedding cake. Otherwise, if you split the batter from the recipe below between 3 round 8″ tins, you’ll come out with a rather grand three-tiered cake, worthy of any birthday party.
What you’ll need
For the cake
395g unsalted butter, softened
395g caster sugar
finely grated zest of 2 lemons
395g self-raising flour
For the drizzle
juice of 2 ½ lemons
150g caster sugar
Begin by preheating the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/350°F. Grease your tins and line with parchment paper.
Then, in a large bowl, beat the butter until it’s creamy (especially if it’s still a bit chilled), then add the sugar and continue beating until light and fluffy.
Add the eggs one at a time, waiting until each egg is fully incorporated before adding the next.
Add the lemon zest and flour and mix until fully incorporated.
Divide the batter between your tins so that it reaches the same height in each, then bake for between 40 and 60 minutes (test to see when a skewer comes out clean to decide when they’re ready).
Once you pull them out of the oven, let them cool in their tins for 5 minutes. While they’re cooling, combine the lemon juice and caster sugar for the topping.
Turn the cakes out upside down* onto a wire rack, pierce the surface (or what used to be the bottom of the cake) at regular intervals with a small sharp knife, then drizzle the cake with the topping while still warm. Leave to cool completely.
*The reason you pour the topping over the bottom of the cake rather than the top is because the top is the side you’ll eventually slice off when you level the cakes (the bottom maintains a nice uniform shape from the tin). If you’re baking a single three-tier celebration cake, consider leaving one layer right side up on rack and making it the top layer of your cake.
If you’re making a wedding cake, the first set of volumes will make enough curd to go between the three layers of your 6″ and 9″ tiers. If you’re making an 8″ three layer cake, the second set will make enough for you.
What you’ll need (for the 6″ and 9″ tiers of a wedding cake)
zest and juice of 7½ large lemons
550g golden caster sugar
15 large eggs, lightly beaten
375g block butter
5 sheets gelatin (optional*)
What you’ll need (for a three-tier 8″ cake)
zest and juice of 2½ large lemons
183g golden caster sugar
5 large eggs, lightly beaten
125g block butter
1 ⅔ sheet gelatin (optional*)
*All the gelatin does is make your curd a bit thicker. If you’re making a wedding cake (which has to sit out all day and look as tidy as possible), I’d definitely recommend using it, but if it’s just a birthday cake you’ll be having at home, there’s probably no need.
What to do
If you plan to use gelatin, place the gelatin sheets in a small bowl, just covered with water, and let sit.
Place a bowl over a pan of boiling water (the bottom of the bowl should not touch the water) and add the lemon zest, lemon juice, caster sugar, eggs and butter.
Stirring occasionally, leave over the heat until thickened (this should take about 25-30 minutes for the single 8″ cake and may take up to 1 hour 30 minutes for the larger batch). Once the curd no longer appears to be getting any thicker, if you’re not using gelatin, remove it from the heat.
If you are using gelatin, take the saturated sheets from the bowl of water (try not bring any extra water with them), and add them to your curd. Stir for another couple of minutes until dissolved, then remove from the heat.
Leave the curd to cool completely (ie. over several hours or overnight) and once everything is at room temperature, spread between the layers.*
*If it’s a wedding cake you’re making, you’ll need to have levelled your layers first. This simply involves measuring and marking your cakes at the appropriate height (my layers were 1¼” or 3¼cm thick) and slicing off the un-level top. For the wedding cake I also used an icing dam, which was essentially a ring of buttercream on the outer edge of the cake to stop the curd bleeding out of the cake.
And that’s it!