Daphne’s ‘Birth Day’ Lemon Cake Recipe


With each of our babies, we’ve celebrated their birth with a ‘birth day’ cake.  For Wilder it was the family’s apple cake recipe, for Brooks it was a hearty carrot cake, and two weeks ago, we made Daphne a summer lemon cake topped with lemon curd, cream, and raspberries from the Farmhouse garden.  Since I’ve had all of my babies at home, we (or more accurately Garrett and my sis) have made these cakes on the day or day after our babies were born and we share them with friends and family as they stop by to meet our newest little one.  You guys know how much I love making layer cakes for special occasions, so it’s probably no surprise that these ‘birth day’ cakes have become one of my very favorite family traditions!

The Grit and Polish - Daphne's Lemon Cake Slices 1

This lemon cake is sweet, strong, and perfect for the summer, just like our little girl.  It’s definitely a bit of an involved recipe and takes the better part of an afternoon to create, so it’s best saved for special occasions with loved ones.  Just like most of my favorite cakes, this recipe was adapted from Leslie Makie’s Macrina Bakery and Cafe Cookbook.

Summer Lemon Cake with Berries (aka Daphne’s ‘Birth Day’ Cake)

*this recipe makes one 9-inch layer cake

for the cake

2 1/2 cups white pastry flour

1/4 cup cornstarch

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

4 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

5 tsp freshly grated lemon zest

8 egg yolks

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 1/4 cup whole milk

2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature

fresh raspberries or strawberries (for final assembly)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees and grease one 9″ springform pan (3″ deep). Line bottom and sides with parchment paper.  Sift flour and cornstarch together in a medium bowl until combined (about 5 times).  Stir in sugar, baking powder, salt, and lemon zest and set aside.  In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter with paddle attachment until butter is smooth and pale (about 5 minutes).  Add the flour mixture and beat on low until fully incorporated.  In a separate bowl, whisk together egg yolks, vanilla, and milk.  Add 1/3 of egg mixture to butter, beating on low until fully combined and then scrape down bowl and beat again.  Repeat until all ingredients are fully incorporated.  Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 1 hour 10 minutes or until skewer comes out dry.  Cool cake on a wire rack for 1 hour before cutting into thirds and frosting (recipes and instructions to follow).

for the lemon syrup

1/2 cup water

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

Cook water and sugar in medium saucepan over medium heat until sugar is totally dissolved (about 10 minutes).  Remove from heat and add lemon juice.  Let cool before pouring over each cake layer.

for the lemon curd

6 egg yolks

1 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup fresh lemon juice

6 tablespoons butter, room temperature

Combine egg yolks, sugar, and lemon juice in a metal bowl and mix together with a fork.  Place bowl overtop of a saucepan filled with simmering water, taking care that the water doesn’t touch the bowl.  Whisk lemon mixture continuously and cook until it’s thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon (about 10 minutes).  Add butter and whisk until fully incorporated.  Remove from heat and pour through a sieve.  Cover top of lemon curd with plastic wrap and refrigerate.  Lemon curd should be completely cooled before using.

for the lemon cream frosting

3 cups heavy cream

1/2 batch of lemon curd

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat cream until stiff peaks form.  Fold in cooled lemon curd using a spatula until fully incorporated.

To assemble cake, cut cooled cake into 3 even layers.  Place first layer on a 9″ round cardboard, pour 1/3 lemon syrup over top and then spread 1/2 of remaining lemon curd over top (I’d recommend skipping the lemon curd if you’re serving to kids or people that don’t enjoy strong lemon flavor) and then spread 1/3 lemon cream on top of that.  Place second layer on top and repeat.  For the third layer, pour lemon syrup over cake and then frost with lemon cream.  I left the sides of my cake bare, but you could do a crumb coat for a rustic look.  Top cake with fresh berries.  Cake can be served at room temperature, but I prefer it chilled in the refrigerator for a few hours.

The Grit and Polish - Daphne's Birth Suite Lemon Cake

Sitting atop that table was the final piece of Daphne’s cake, which Garrett and I shared in this corner of our bedroom one afternoon when the boys went swimming with Nana.  Goodness did that cake ever taste sweet after all those months of pregnancy and hours of labor.  Of course, now that we’re done having babies, I’ll have to find another excuse to bake cakes…or maybe we’ll just have to start celebrating random Wednesdays 😉



p.s. Daphne’s birth and Brooks’ birth

p.p.s. my favorite almond cake recipe

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