Buttery Easter Layer Cake with Lemon Curd
To prepare the lemon curd filling, in a heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk together eggs, egg yolks, sugar, lemon juice and lemon zest. Place the pan over medium heat and stir constantly until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon, 10 to 15 minutes. Off the heat, whisk in the cold butter. Strain through a fine mesh strainer and cover the surface directly with plastic wrap. Make sure that plastic wrap is right up against the lemon curd filling so that it doesn’t form a skin. Refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, at least 2 hours.
When you’re ready to prepare the cake, preheat the oven to 350° F. Grease 3 (9-inch) round cake pans with butter or spray with cooking spray and line with baking paper.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter on medium speed until creamy and smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Add sugar and lemon zest and beat the mixture until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl occasionally to incorporate all the sugar with the butter. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a small bowl, whisk together buttermilk and vanilla. Beat the flour mixture into the egg mixture in three additions, alternating with the buttermilk mixture and beginning and ending with the flour. Mix just until incorporated and scrape the sides of the bowl down occasionally. Spoon the batter evenly into the prepared pans, smoothing the tops. Bake about 23 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean. Let cool in pan 10 minutes. Then remove from pans by inverting and peel off baking paper. Thoroughly cool your cakes on wire racks before frosting them.
While the cake layers are cooling, prepare the buttercream frosting. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter on medium speed until soft and creamy, 2 to 3 minutes. Beat in the lemon juice until combined, about 1 minute. Place in a small bowl and clean out bowl of electric mixer.
Place a medium saucepan of barely simmering water on the stove. In the bowl of the electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk together egg whites, sugar, cream of tartar and salt on medium speed. Set the bowl over the pan of simmering water and whisk constantly until the mixture registers 140° F on a candy thermometer, about 10 minutes. Set the bowl on the mixer and beat on high speed until the mixture has cooled and soft peaks form, 5 to 10 minutes. Add the creamed butter 1/4 cup at a time, beating well after each addition until smooth.
Once the cake layers are cool, assemble the cake. Place one cake layer on a serving plate, with the flat bottom side facing down. Spread half of the lemon curd filling over the surface of the cake. Top with another cake layer, inverted, so the bottom of the cake is facing up. Spread remaining filling over this cake layer. Place the remaining cake layer, also inverted, on top. Spread the buttercream frosting over the top and sides of the cake.
Decorate with shredded coconut and/or Peeps.
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