My oldest and dearest friend Beth had her baby shower a few weeks ago and I promised to bring a cake along. She loves lemon drizzle so I decided on a three tier lemon ombre babyshower cake with home made lemon curd and butter cream filing. The expectant parents don’t know if they are having a baby boy or a baby girl so I chose to decorate with a neutral colour, yellow. Which also works well with the lemon flavour. I was feeling a little ambitious and wanted to try something I have never done before. I was scouring Pinterest for inspiration and saw the most gorgeous lemon sunshine cake – that was the one for me! I was going to make a yellow ombre cake. I also wanted to try to make little pastel yellow meringue kisses to go on the top.
Until this cake I had never made a three tier sponge, used butter cream to cover a cake, attempted ombre icing or made meringue kisses…..that’s a lot of firsts for one cake.
As you can see from the pictures it is far from perfect. The ombre was a slightly garish, luminous yellow. I think this is because I used a cheap supermarket food colouring so next time I will definitely invest in some better quality colourings. The meringues looked OK and set well however they went a horrible orange colour – not sure why as it was the same colouring but again it was probably something to do with it being cheap. Final moan …. the meringues kisses were very very sweet! I wouldn’t normally put this much sugar in my meringue but I followed the recipe, assuming it was something to do with getting a stiff meringue …. anyway, just a warning for your teeth – very sweet.
After all that moaning, the most important thing about this cake is that it tasted amazing – even if I do say so myself. The lemon curd added a fab zingy kick and each mouthful packed a lemon punch. Lemon curd is my new fav cake filling!
Lemon ombre babyshower cake
250g Stork and a little extra for greasing the tins
250g caster sugar
4 eggs, lightly beaten
250g self-raising flour
Zest of 2 lemons
Splash of milk
Pinch of sea salt
Note: I really like this recipe for lemon curd because; 1) It’s super easy, put it all in a pan and stir – no bain marie or whisking involved. 2) It only uses egg yolks – this is perfect when you are using egg whites elsewhere in your bake. I use the whites for meringue kisses in this recipe.
2 egg yolks
85g caster sugar
30g unsalted butter
1 tsp grated lemon zest
50ml lemon juice
350g softened unsalted butter
700g icing sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
Yellow food colouring
2 egg whites
140g caster sugar
Yellow food colouring
Start by greasing three 20cm sandwich tins ( I only have two tins so I had to do this in batches) with a little stork, then line the bottom and sides with grease proof paper. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C.
Beat together the Stork and caster sugar until the mixture turns pale yellow and creamy, 4 or 5 minutes in a stand mixer should do it. Add the eggs one at a time with a spoonful of flour each time to prevent the mixture curdling. Fold in the remaining flour, a pinch of salt and the lemon zest. The mixture should drop easily off a spoon, if not add a splash of milk. Spoon the mixture into your prepared tins, try to split the mixture evenly between the three tins. Bake in the over for 25 – 30 minutes or until golden brown on top and a cake tester comes out clean.
Whilst your cake is cooking you can whip up a quick batch of lemon curd for the filling. This recipe is just enough for 2 layers of filling. If you wanted to use this recipe for lemon roulade you would need to double the mixture. In a bowl, whisk egg yolks and sugar until well combined but not frothy. Pour into a saucepan and add the butter, lemon zest and lemon juice. Bring to simmering point over a medium-high heat (about five minutes), stirring constantly. As soon as bubbles appear, remove from heat, still stirring for a few minutes. Allow to cool completely.
Once you cakes are cooked, leave to cool in the tins for a few minutes and then transfer to cooling racks. Turn the oven down to 90 degrees C ready for the meringue kisses.
To make the butter cream, start by softening the butter in a stand mixer for 2 – 3 minutes or with a hand whisk for 3 – 4 minutes. This will make all the difference to the texture of your butter cream. Then slowly add the icing sugar and mix thoroughly for another few minutes. Stir in vanilla extract. To assemble your cake, spread some butter cream on one of your cakes, this will be the bottom layer. Then add half the lemon curd and spread evenly. Add the second cake layer and do the same with butter cream and remaining lemon curd. Add the third and final cake and spread with butter cream. Coat the whole cake with a thin layer of butter cream to lock in all your crumbs (the crumb coat). Refrigerate for about 20 minutes to allow your crumb coat to crust.
Divide the remaining butter cream between 3 bowls with a little extra in the bowl that you won’t be colouring (this one will have to cover both the top 1/3 of the cake and the top). Tint two of the bowls yellow with one slightly lighter than the other. Starting with the darkest colour on the bottom, spread the butter cream around the lower 1/3 cake using a pallet knife. Switch to the second shade of yellow and spread that around the middle 1/3 of the cake. Finally, use the natural butter cream and spread the top 1/3 of the cake and top of the cake. Then to merge all the colours together, I used a hot pallet knife which I warmed in hot water and dried in a tea towel. You need to work quickly while the knife is hot. If it starts to pull icing off the cake you need to get the knife hot again. Hold the knife flat to the cake the then smooth all the way round until the colour merged together to get an ombre effect. Place in the fridge until you are ready to decorate.
With Thanks: I must say a huge thank you to Tim at this point as he was the one who suggested using a hot knife – before this I was using a cold knife and it began to pull the butter cream off the cake. There you go Tim… is that good enough?
Note: I am not in any way an icing expert. This was my first ever attempt and the way I do it probably isn’t the correct way. However it is a way and it sort of worked. If you want to see it done a lot better than me visit The Simple Sweet Life which was the inspiration for this cake.
For the meringue kisses, line 2 baking sheets with grease proof paper. Whisk the egg whites to stiff peaks and then add the sugar gradually, whisking all the time. Continue to whisk for another 3 minutes. Take a piping bag and place in a star nozzle ( it’s the only one I have and probably the most standard one you get with a beginners piping set). Drizzle in some food colouring and smooth the outside of the piping bag to distribute the colouring. Put the meringue mixture into a piping bag and pipe kisses onto the baking parchment. You will find the colour lessens as you pipe, creating the ombre effect. Bake in the preheated oven for 1.5 hours or until they can be lifted from the paper without tearing the base.
Once the meringues have cooled, use a small amount of butter cream to stick the meringues around the outside of the cake. I also made a little bunting for the top of the cake which made it look a little more special for the new gorgeous baby boy or girl who will be joining the amazing Lewis family. Good luck Beth and Sam, you will be the best parents in the world xxx