Classic Lemon Cake

Ballymaloe House Hotel Located in East Cork


225g/8 oz (1 cup) soft salted butter

zest of 1 lemon

225g/8 oz (1 cup plus 2 tablespoons) superfine caster sugar

4large eggs

225g/8 oz (2 cups) plain flour

1level teaspoon baking powder


Butter icing and filling:

110g/4 oz (½ cup) soft salted butter

170g/6 oz (1½ cups) sieved icing sugar

zest of 1 lemon

1 tablespoon lemon juice


Lemon glacé icing:

170 g/6 oz (1½ cups) sieved icing sugar

lemon juice


Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas4 /160°C fan. Brush the inside of the 20 cm/8 inch sandwich cake tins with melted butter and line the base of each tin with a neat fitting disk of non-stick baking paper. Dust the buttered sides of each tin with flour, shaking out any excess.

Ina mixing bowl, cream the soft butter with the lemon zest and gradually add the sugar and continue to beat until pale in colour and light in texture. If you are using an electric stand mixer, use the paddle attachment. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition.

Sieve the flour with the baking powder and fold into the butter and egg mixture. Divide the mixture between the prepared tins and smooth over the surface.

Bake n the centre of the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to rest in the tins for 5 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool.

Next, make the buttercream icing: Cream the butter and icing sugar together, add the lemon zest and juice and continue to beat until the buttercream is light and fluffy. Make the lemon glacé icing: sieve the icing sugar into a small bowl and add enough lemon juice to make a thick smooth icing.

To assemble, use 3 tablespoons of lemon curd (recipe below)

Remove the baking paper from the base of each cake. Sandwich the cakes with the lemon buttercream and lemon curd. Pour the glacé icing over the cake and use a palette knife to ease it across the top allowing any excess to dribble down the sides.


Lemon Curd by JR Ryall, Ballymaloe Desserts cookbook

When making lemon curd, think of it as a custard - stir the mixture constantly over medium-low heat until it thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon - once the curd has thickened it is ready. The curd will continue to thicken as it cools but if for any reason you want a very thick curd add one extra egg yolk along with the eggs. Lemon curd is a short-term preserve and can be stored in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

This recipe makes 300 ml or ½ pint

55g/2 oz butter

110g/4 oz superfine castor sugar

finely grated zest and juice of 2 large lemons

2 large eggs 

1 large egg yolk

Put the butter in a small heavy non-corrodible saucepan, over low heat to melt. In a small bowl, beat the egg yolk with the whole eggs, to combine. Add the castor sugar, lemon juice and zest to the saucepan followed by the beaten eggs. Stir the mixture constantly with a whisk as it cooks over low to medium heat. Once the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon remove the pot from the heat. Pass the lemon mixture through a fine sieve to remove the lemon zest - at this point the zest has done its work and infused the mixture with its fragrant oil. Store in an airtight jar in the fridge.

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