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Lemonade Cake Love

Months ago, Aidan requested her birthday cake. Never mind there was still snow on the ground, she was dreaming of her July birthday and a handsome lemonade cake. Over the next few months, I kept my eyes open for lemon cake recipes and ideas and found several. On her birthday, I pulled them together and made a cake that I rank as one of my best, ever. It was fabulous and I will make it again. It’s no fun keeping it to myself, so I am sharing these recipes.

Lemonade, Lemonade, what's your trade? Amateur baker, professional lemon drop assassin ass

THE CAKE

I found the recipe at Cooking Light, but I modified it so it wasn’t actually…light. It’s not like we cram cake on a daily basis, so I feel something like birthday cake deserves the full-on buttery, fatty, creamy treatment.

Ingredients:

1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
6 tablespoons butter, softened
1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
3 tablespoons thawed lemonade concentrate
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 large egg whites
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 cups fat-free buttermilk (I used regular buttermilk)

Put first 5 ingredients in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended (about 5 minutes). Add eggs and egg whites, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda; stir well with a whisk. Add flour mixture and buttermilk alternately to sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture; beat well after each addition.

Pour batter into 2 (9-inch) round cake pans coated with cooking spray; sharply tap pans once on counter to remove air bubbles. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 minutes on a wire rack; remove from pans. Cool completely on wire rack.

The Cooking Light recipe includes frosting directions, which I did not use. I loathe cream cheese frosting, even when it’s lemon. If you are a cream cheese frosting lover, consider using their recipe. I opted for something different, and I’m glad I did. It was light and fluffy, which I think complements a summery lemon birthday cake better than heavy cheesy cream-style frosting. Save that for the red velvets (not that you wouldn’t find me scraping it off…)

THE FROSTING

Ingredients:

3.5 cups powdered sugar
1 stick of softened butter
1/4 cup of milk, but add slowly and as needed
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons lemon juice

In a large mixing bowl, slowly combine powdered sugar and softened butter until it makes a thick mix. Once you know you won’t have powdered sugar flying all over the kitchen, mix on medium for 3 minutes. Add vanilla and lemon juice. Slowly add milk, watching closely for the consistency you desire. I used the full 1/4 cup of milk, which made it on the softer side. This was okay with me because I knew I was going to store the cake in the refrigerator for about 8 hours before serving, so the frosting would firm up. Think of all that butter. If you are serving it immediately, consider adding less milk. If it’s too runny, add more powdered sugar. You can go back and forth all day long, really.

I frosted the two-layer cake with this and had enough left over to have a few spoonfuls for quality control purposes.

THE TOPPING

Originally, Aidan wanted the top of her cake to be littered with lemon drops. This didn’t sound ideal to slice or bite. My mom suggested crushing the lemon drops and sprinkling them on top. I thought it would be easier than it was. Perhaps I went about it the wrong way and I’d be happy to take suggestions for the next time I make it. Learn from my folly.

Ingredients:

1 bag of Brach’s Lemon Drop candies
Ziploc freezer bag
Weapon
Safety googles

I poured 1/2 of the lemon drops into a sandwich bag, underestimating how tough the lemon drops are. Wow: Diamonds meet a 3-year-old’s determination he wants to wear fleece footie pajamas to bed in July. One bash from my rolling pin split the sandwich bag and sent lemon drops flying. I decided a tougher baggie was needed, so I moved the remaining lemon drops to a giant freezer bag. I began to bash and bash and bash, astonished by how hearty they were. Finally, they began to split and powder. My goal was a mix of small chunkier pieces and finer powder for a textured appearance.

I sprinkled the decimated lemon drops over the top of the cake. With the remaining unassaulted lemon drops, I decorated around the bottom of the cake.

7 comments to Lemonade Cake Love

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