Lemon Chocolate Cake for Carrie!

29 Mar

Carrie, the wonderful woman, in the Anthropology Department who does ALL the administrative stuff and answers the annoying questions us grad students ask was recently promoted to work for the Dean. While this was a great move for her, it was a very sad move for the rest of us. Carrie’s bright, smiling face could make any bad day better. Of course the department threw her a going away party and I offered to make a cake. I had originally wanted this cake to be a surprise, but then I realized I would be better if she got something she wanted than be surprised by something she didn’t. I learned her favorite flavors are lemon and dark chocolate. So, I devised a lemon cake that is brushed with lemon syrup, with homemade lemon curd in between the four cake layers and topped the whole thing off with some dark chocolate frosting. The day of the party I brought the cake in and found the woman in charge of the party who said, “Oh, how wonderful, but the party is not until next week.” Um…oops! Well, I was not about to waste a whole cake, nor was I going to take the thing home for only Aaron and I to consume. So, I just took my cake and marched on over to the Dean’s office to deliver the cake to Carrie personally. She was absolutely delighted as was the Dean and the guest he was giving a tour to – that is right, the Washington University Dean ate one of my baked goods! The reviews were as such, “People’s faces have been lighting up as they exclaim ‘Amazing!’; ‘Professionally done!’, ‘I’ve never had the lemon-chocolate combo–wow!’, ‘Seriously, incredible’ and ‘Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!’”

The finished product

Anyway, the recipes all came from Martha Stewart. The cake and curd were fabulous together. The dark chocolate frosting I have made before. It is an extremely deep chocolatey frosting. However, when following the recipe exactly, the frosting takes FOREVER to set up which means it also takes forever to finish a cake. So, this time, I added more powdered sugar to stiffen up the frosting and make my decorating life easier. Unfortunately, the negative result of this is that the frosting becomes a bit too sweet and then gets super hard when the whole cake is chilled. So, the recipe below is the original recipe without the extra powdered sugar I added. I would suggest you make the frosting and let it chill for a little bit in the fridge before attempting to apply it to the cake, and then it should be fine.

Commence Deliciousness!

Lemon Cake with Dark Chocolate Frosting
Adapted slightly from Martha Stewart: cake, lemon curd and frosting

For the Lemon Cake:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pans
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for pans
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 ½ tablespoon lemon zest
1 ½ cups sugar
2 large eggs plus 3 large egg yolks
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 cup + 2 tablespoons buttermilk

For the Lemon Curd:
4 large egg yolks
2 large eggs
¾ cup sugar
½ cup fresh lemon juice (from about 4 lemons)
2 tablespoons lemon zest
2 ounces (4 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

For the Dark Chocolate Frosting:
½ cup plus 1 tablespoon unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
½ cup plus 1 tablespoon boiling water
2 ¼ cups (4 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
¼ cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
¼ teaspoon salt
1 ½ pounds best-quality semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled

For the Lemon Syrup:
½ cup sugar
½ cup water
1 lemon thinly sliced seeded
¼ cup fresh lemon juice (from about 2 lemons)


Order of Operations: Make the cake, then as soon as it is in the oven make the lemon curd and begin melting the chocolate for the frosting, then as soon as the lemon curd is the fridge make the chocolate, and finally as soon as the frosting is in the fridge make the lemon syrup that gets brushed over the cake.

For the Cake:

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Butter and flour two 8-by-2-inch cake pans, tapping out excess flour. In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and lemon zest.

2. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and 1 ½ cups sugar until light and fluffy. With mixer on low, beat in eggs and yolks, one at a time. Beat in 2 tablespoons lemon juice. Alternately beat in flour mixture and buttermilk beginning and ending with flour mixture; mix just until combined.

3. Divide batter between pans; smooth tops. Bake until cakes pull away from sides of pans, 32 to 35 minutes. Let cool in pans 10 minutes. Run a knife around edges of pans and invert cakes onto a wire rack.

For the Lemon Curd:

1. Place all ingredients except the butter in a bowl over a pot of simmering water; whisk until thickened, about 5 minutes.

2. Strain into a small bowl; add butter, and whisk until smooth.

3. Press a piece of plastic wrap directly on surface; refrigerate until cold. Lemon curd will keep, covered and refrigerated, for up to 3 days.

For the Dark Chocolate Frosting:

1. Combine cocoa and the boiling water, stirring until cocoa has dissolved.

2. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter, confectioners’ sugar, and salt until pale and fluffy.

3. Reduce speed to low. Add melted and cooled chocolate, beating until combined and scraping down sides of bowl as needed.

4. Beat in the cocoa mixture.

5. Place in fridge for about 20-30 minutes, stirring it around whenever you get a moment.

For the Lemon Syrup:

1. Bring ½ cup sugar and ½ cup water to a boil in a saucepan. Add lemon slices and simmer 25 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer lemon slices to a waxed-paper-lined plate and set aside. Stir remaining ¼ cup fresh lemon juice into syrup.

2. Using a toothpick, poke holes in warm cakes on rack. Brush with lemon syrup. Let cool completely.

3. Slice each cake in half horizontally to create a total of four layers

4. Use the lemon slices to decorate the top of the cake if you like.

Assembling the Cake:

1. Place one layer of the cake on the board or container you are using. Using a pastry bag with a Wilton #12 tip on it, fill the bag with the dark chocolate frosting. Pipe a ring of frosting along the outer edge of the cake. Then take one half of the lemon curd and pour it on the cake and spread it out evenly within the chocolate frosting ring. The theory here is that the chocolate frosting ring keeps the curd from oozing out in between the cake layers.

2. Place the second cake layer on top of the one you just covered in curd. Put a layer of the chocolate frosting on top of this layer.

3. Repeat step #1 with the 3rdcake layer.

4. Place the fourth layer on top of that, and frost the entire outside of the cake with chocolate frosting.

5. Decorate the top with the lemon slices you pulled out from the lemon syrup

6. If not using immediately, place the cake in the fridge since the curd can go bad.

Now go and amaze your friends!


Posted by on March 29, 2012 in Cake, Chocolate, Frosting, Lemon


2 responses to “Lemon Chocolate Cake for Carrie!

  1. Amethyst

    June 5, 2015 at 9:04 am

    Thanks for this! My mom likes lemon cake, my step-father likes chocolate, and I need to make a cake for their 25th anniversary. This fits both bills!

    • Amethyst

      June 14, 2015 at 12:28 am

      It was delicious! I have no pictures, and there’s nothing left to take pictures of.


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