Recipe: The Lemon Cheese Layer Cake
Don't be deceived by the name – you won't be getting a cheesecake with this Lemon Cheese Layer Cake recipe. Instead, you'll find soft cake layers sandwiching rich, buttery lemon curd. The cake is then frosted in creamy Lemon-Orange Buttercream Frosting. This impressive four-layer cake is a stunning addition to any spring dessert table, and it's especially classic to the Southern region. The story behind Lemon Cheese Layer Cake goes all the way back to the early 1800s. Recipes for lemon cheese called for acidulating cream with lemon juice, and then separating the curds and whey. As the years went by, the recipe for lemon cheese changed to include butter and eggs. In the mid-1900s, almost every Southern cook had a go-to recipe for a classic Lemon Cheese Layer Cake in her heirloom recipe box. As a matter of fact, the local ladies in southeast Alabama are still famous for their towering, moist Lemon Cheese Layer Cakes made with 14 layers of soft sponge. There are plenty of variations on the recipe, of course, and most versions on this nostalgic cake recipe are in tribute to Robert E. Lee. The Southern general allegedly love a sugary sponge cake filled with the zest of finely grated citrus fruit, like lemons and oranges. Until this Lemon Cheese Layer Cake ran in our 50th anniversary issue, a lemon cheese riff on the Robert E. Lee Cake from the Southern Living 1990 Five-Star Recipe Collection was our go-to recipe.
Although you will need to allow plenty of time for the layers to cool and set, hands-on time for this incredible Southern cake is less than two hours. If you're hoping to speed up the recipe, you can always use store-bought lemon curd to sub in for the homemade lemon curd recipe. But, we forewarn you – it won't be as tasty. Plus, once you've prepared the homemade curd, it can be stored in your fridge for up to two weeks. So, you can always prepare the curd in advance and then simply frost the cake when you're ready to serve it up. Be sure to add some extra lemon curd onto the top of the cake after frosting; it gives your impressive dessert a luxurious look.