Lemon-Lime Layer Cake

I’m not naming any names, but someone had a birthday, recently. IMG_1051Hint: This person probably spends too much time in the kitchen — so much that he usually forgets when his birthday is let alone his age. Okay… it was me. It was my birthday, yes. Don’t sing to me!!

Ordinarily, I don’t like to have a lot of fuss made about my birthday. It’s not that I abhor growing older or that I’m modest about my advancing years in any way. It’s more that I dislike the spotlight, for the most part, unless I’m doing something that I feel is worthy of it. In my view, a birthday is something to be grateful for, not to necessarily brag about. Of course, a few special comforts on a special day aren’t out of the question.

IMG_1004For instance, Nicole went above and beyond in making my “birthday eve” a special day. She put together quite the little Mexican-style feast (I helped, of course): Marinated Grilled Skirt Steak Soft Tacos with Homemade Pico de Gallo & Homemade Guacamole, Coconut Rum Flans, and Homemade Strawberry Limeade. So much for “no fuss”, right?! She used a skirt steak marinade recipe from Alton Brown and the flan recipe was from Martha Stewart (though Nicole will simply DIE when she finds out that I told you she used a Martha Stewart recipe… don’t ask!). The rest of the dinner was completely off the top of her head — not literally, of course.


We were also pleased to have our friends April & Vince over for dinner with their wee one, JB. As a lovely surprise, they brought me a beautiful bouquet of flowers to decorate the dining room. It was a delightful dinner with lots of fresh food and good conversation… and everyone KNEW not to sing “Happy Birthday” to me. (It’s not allowed, that’s why.)

Having just returned from our vacation and having already dealt with a kitchen full of fresh-picked cherries and blueberries, we now had another couple waves of tomatoes from the garden to contend with. This is why I was so happy when James gave me one of my birthday presents: the All-American 910 Pressure Canner/Cooker! Look out, world! Jason can can just about anything, now! Can I could and can I did! Ha!

IMG_1013Keeping with my penchant for always giving myself far too much to do on the weekend, aside from all the canning, I put together a feast for my birthday featuring two of my favorite summery stand-bys: Rustic Tomato-Basil Tart and Lemon-Lime Layer Cake. More on that tart, later, in a separate entry.

As you probably noticed somewhere during the seven-part miniseries, we quite literally ate our way through vacation – nothing was off limits! So, even though it was my birthday and I was “king for a day”, I knew the sensible thing to do would be to return a little sanity and moderation to our diets. A lot of cake recipes that I consider celebration-worthy definitely set off a lot of nutrition alarms. (I have a German Chocolate Cake recipe, for instance: each slice comes in at over 800 calories!) That’s one of the reasons that I picked the Lemon-Lime Layer Cake for my birthday cake: with just over 400 calories per slice (if you cut it in twelfths the way I like to), it was a far cry from the decadence we’d allowed over the past few weeks. So maybe I could have my birthday cake and eat it too!

Since the cake gets its flavors almost solely from the lemon and lime zest and juices, it’s important that you get the freshest lemons and limes you can find (organic, too, since you’ll be eating the zest)… and don’t use the juices from concentrate, either, you want the real deal, here. Bottled juices are good for some things, of course, but not in this instance.

IMG_0993 IMG_0994
Here’s JB demonstrating (before-and-after style) the importance of using only the highest quality of limes. He voluntarily ate two slices of lime, by the way – quite the adventurous palate on that wee one! Inspired, I tried a slice, myself, but couldn’t manage even a full bite. How does he do it?!

IMG_1011The original recipe calls for the cake to be made in two 9-inch cake pans, but I find that – even though the cake is quite springy and rises just fine – it seems a little flat on the serving platter. So, I make it in 8-inch pans so that the presentation is nicer (and no one thinks you made a cake that didn’t rise enough).

What really rounds out this cake is the icing. You’ll notice the icing contains NO BUTTER. So you’ll be dealing with a slightly thinner, more translucent icing than most recipes. Be sure to not over mix it, otherwise it gets watery and downright impossible to work with — you’ll be chasing it from one side of the cake to the other.

Lemon-Lime Layer Cake
adapted from Cooking Light
Serves 12-16

    2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
    1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
    1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
    3/4 cup egg substitute (such as Egg Beaters)
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
    1 tablespoon grated lime zest
    1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
    1 1/3 cups buttermilk

    Lemon-Lime Icing:
    1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
    1 teaspoon grated lime zest
    1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
    8 ounces neufchatel cheese (1/3 less fat cream cheese), softened
    1 pinch salt
    1/4 cup all-purpose flour
    2 1/4 cups powdered sugar

    Preheat oven to 350-degrees. Using the bottom of an 8-inch cake pan as a stencil, trace two rounds of parchment paper; cut out the rounds. Coat the bottoms of two 8-inch cake pans with cooking spray, line the bottoms with the parchment rounds; spray the rounds lightly with cooking spray.

    In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

    In a large bowl, cream together the granulated sugar and softened butter at medium mixer speed until fluffy. Add the egg substitute, lemon & lime zests, lime juice, and vanilla, beating until almost completely incorporated.

    Add the flour mixture and buttermilk alternately to the sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour. Divide batter evenly between the two prepared cake pans; bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

    Cool cakes in pans on wire rack for 10-15 minutes; remove from pans, carefully peel off parchment paper, and allow to cool completely on wire rack.

    To prepare icing, combine lemon & lime zests, lime juice, neufchatel cheese, and salt; beat with a mixer on medium speed until smooth. Add the flour; continuing to beat, gradually add powdered sugar until desired consistency is reached (do not over mix).

    Place one cake layer on cake plate; spread with 1/2-3/4 cup of the icing. Top with the remaining cake layer; spread remaining icing over top and sides of the cake. Chill for at least one hour before serving. Store loosely covered in the refrigerator.


The result is a sunny little cake with a moist but not too dense crumb and just enough zingy icing to make you think you’re eating something much naughtier than you are. (Little lemon and lime halos all around) I’d like to interject, here, that Cooking Light is often guilty of increasing the yield of a recipe in order to make the nutrition facts seem prettier — even at the expense of serving sizes. That’s just cheating! The original recipe instructs you to slice this cake into sixteen slices, but I feel that twelve slices is definitely not gluttonous and it certainly makes for easier cake slicing. Be sure to store it in the refrigerator and serve it chilled, too.


~ by Jason on August 4, 2010.

6 Responses to “Lemon-Lime Layer Cake”

  1. Thanks for sharing the cake recipe. I can’t wait to give it a try. I think I may even surprise my mom with this cake for her birthday. She loves lemon-flavored cakes!

  2. GASP! How dare you out my flan like that! Oh, the betrayal.

    • There comes a time in every little flan’s life when he has to admit certain things about himself — who he is, where he comes from…

      Seriously, the flans were great, and I didn’t realize that they weren’t originally supposed to be individual flans (unless I was looking at a different recipe than the one you used).

  3. Sounds Awesome!! Can’t wait to try it out!!

  4. Totally forgot about this post! I can’t believe how little he was!

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