A good friend and colleague of mine recently left our office for a fantastic new job. I decided to bake a cake for her going away party (nothing beats homemade), and knowing lemon is one of her favorites, I hunted down a lemon buttermilk cake recipe from Martha Stewart.
I decided to make a few adjustments – 1) I added rosemary to both the batter and the lemon syrup; and 2) I used cream cheese frosting instead of the whipped frosting recommended.
Now, I don’t usually go in for fruit-flavored cakes, but this is one of my new favorites. Here’s the recipe (adapted from Martha Stewart’s Lemon Layer Cake):
Lemon Rosemary Cake:
For the Cake:
1.5 cup (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pans
3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for pans
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1.5 teaspoons salt
1.5 tablespoons lemon zest
3 cups sugar
3 large eggs plus 4.5 large egg yolks
1/3 cup plus 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon finely chopped rosemary
1.5 cups low-fat buttermilk
1 sprig rosemary (or more if you want strong rosemary flavor)
1 lemon, thinly sliced and seeded
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour three 8-by-2-inch cake pans, tapping out excess flour. In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, chopped rosemary, and lemon zest.
In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and 2 1/4 cups sugar until light and fluffy. With mixer on low, beat in eggs and yolks, one at a time. Beat in 3 tablespoons lemon juice. Alternately beat in flour mixture and buttermilk beginning and ending with flour mixture; mix just until combined.
Divide batter between pans; smooth tops. Bake until cakes pull away from sides of pans, 32 to 35 minutes. Let cool in pans 10 minutes. Run a knife around edges of pans and invert cakes onto a wire rack.
While cakes are baking, bring remaining 3/4 cup sugar and 3/4 cup water to a boil in a saucepan. Add lemon slices and rosemary sprig and simmer 25 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer lemon slices and rosemary to a waxed-paper-lined plate. Stir remaining 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice into syrup.
Using a toothpick, poke holes in warm cakes on rack. Brush with lemon syrup (add several layers). Let cool completely. Prepare frosting (see below). Frost cooled cakes and top with candied lemon slices.
For the Frosting:
3/4 cup of butter (1.5 sticks), room temperature
12 oz of Philly cream cheese (1 package), room temperature
3 – 4 cups of powdered sugar
2 teaspoons of lemon juice
With an electric mixer, mix the butter and cream cheese together, about 3 minutes on medium speed until very smooth. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl to ensure even mixing.
Add the vanilla extract and mix. Slowly add the powdered sugar. Keep adding until you get to desired sweetness and thickness.