Updated: May 25
These days it can be trickier to find ingredients at a reasonable price or even at all in some grocery stores. Baking typically calls for the fresh juice or the zest or rind of the fruit. Being an oil lover and lover of convenience, I use doTERRA lemon oil over zest in everything from baking to salad dressing and marinades for a few reasons ...
it's much cheaper than purchasing lemons or even lemon juice
it's a cleaner source of lemon flavor without worrying about what's been sprayed on the lemon and whether or not you can actually clean it off to consume
it's far more convenient ... in a 15 mL bottle there's 250 drops so when replacing zest (the essential oil is derrived from the peel and steam distilled) you can replace at a ratio of 4 drops to 1 tbsp (about what you'd get from 1 lemon)
Our family eats gluten-free and it's often been challenging to find really good baked goods that are comparable to their gluten-containing counterparts so as my moms 70th birthday approached, I set to finding a recipe for a lemon cake that wasn't sickly sweet (my sister and I are NOT a fan of icing/frosting generally) that I could make gluten-free and still be moist and light with a cream cheese based "icing" and I think I've perfected it.
You can make this cake as gluten free as I have or use regular wheat flour. You can add a layer of the cream cheese frosting to the center or the lemon curd as I recommend. It's really your call on what you prefer and what suits your tastes.
The recipe below with give you light cakes with a subtle lemon flavor and a moist crumb. The cream cheese and whip cream frosting is also lightly lemon flavored and not overly sweet and makes a LOT of icing so you could consider saving the remainder (freezes well) or making cup cakes also and you'll have plenty of icing for two dozen cupcakes or another cake.
I like to consider the aesthetic so I presented this cake with a dried and toasted lemon slices as a garnish. Simply slice one lemon thinly, spread across a lightly sprayed cookie sheet and bake in 250 degree convect oven for 2 hours to dry out the slices. I then took the culinary torch and toasted the edges and wedges to better define the texture and add a little more color to the garnishing slices.
Prep the garnishes if that's how'd you like to decorate
Prep the lemon curd so it can cool
Prep the cakes
Prep the frosting / filling
FOR THE LEMON CURD
¾ cup fresh lemon juice
¾ cup white sugar
½ cup unsalted butter, cubed
3 large eggs
10 drops doTERRA lemon oil
This is super simple to assemble so it's a quick way to get started to have time to let it cool before adding to the middle layer of the cakes. It's wonderful on it's own, topped with fresh blueberries or used as a toppping for crepes or as a filling for pastries or muffins.
Combine lemon juice, sugar, butter, and in a 2-quart saucepan.
Cook over medium-low heat, whisking constantly, until mixture thickens and bubbles, about 5 to 6 minutes.
Remove from heat and let cool for 3 minutes. Add lemon oil and stir in. Cool completely before adding to cake.
FOR THE CAKES
2 1/4 cups One for One Gluten free flour like Robin Hood or from the Bulk Barn or regular white or cake flour
1 teaspoon xanthan gum - omit if your gluten-free blend already contains it
½ cup milk powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
¾ teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
10 drops lemon oil
12 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg + 3 egg whites at room temperature, beaten
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract or 4 drops Madagascar vanilla oil
1 cup milk, at room temperature
Preheat your oven to 350°F. Grease two 8-inch round baking pans and set them aside.
In a large bowl, place the flour blend, xanthan gum, nonfat dry milk, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and whisk to combine well.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or a large bowl with a hand mixer, place the butter and beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes). Add the sugar, eggs, essential oil (s) and vanilla, beating on medium-high speed until well-combined after each addition.
Add the dry ingredients and the milk and lemon juice, alternating between the dry ingredients and milk or lemon juice, and beginning and ending with the flour, beating on medium speed to combine after each addition. The batter will be fluffy but rather thick.
Divide the cake batter evenly among the two prepared cake pans and shake into an even layer in each. Place in the center of the preheated oven and bake, rotating once, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached (about 25 minutes).
Remove the cakes from the oven and allow to cool in the pans for 10 minutes before inverting onto wire racks to cool completely.
FOR THE LEMON CREAM FILLING / FROSTING
1 ½ cups 12 fluid ounces heavy whipping cream, chilled
1 8- ounce package cream cheese at room temperature
5 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
4 cups confectioners sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
10 drops doTERRA lemon oil
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or a large bowl with a hand mixer, place the heavy whipping cream and beat on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form (about 5 minutes). Scrape the whipped cream into a separate bowl and place it in the refrigerator to chill.
In the same mixer bowl, place the cream cheese and butter and beat (with the paddle attachment if using a stand mixer) until light and fluffy (about 4 minutes). Add the salt and confectioners’ sugar slowly, and beat on low speed until the sugar is absorbed into the cream cheese-butter mixture.
Add the lemon juice and lemon oil, turn the mixer up to high speed and continue to beat until the frosting is light and fluffy (about 4 more minutes). Remove the whipped cream from the refrigerator and fold it into the cream cheese frosting. Lick the paddles and love your life! This is going to give you a really lovely light, not sickly sweet frosting that is subtly lemony flavored that will bring you back for a second piece.
After cakes and curd have cooled, place the base layer cake on a cake stand and reove any top layer to level the cake.
Apply a generous dollop of the frosting or curd to the top of the base layer, spreding evenly.
Apply the next cake and evenly apply frosting to sides (if that's your preference) and top starting with the sides.
Arrange toasted lemons on top. A few fresh blueberries really looks stunning too.
Fight back the hordes of "new friends" you'll have banging at your door for a slice of this truly magnificent cake.
Give it a go and let me know how you make out!