Woody’s Lemon Luxury Layer Cake


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves:

    14 to 16

Appears in

Rose's Heavenly Cakes

By Rose Levy Beranbaum

Published 2009

  • About

When Woody Wolston’s t’ai chi Sifu Paul, got married, he requested this cake for his wedding celebration. The egg yolks and white chocolate in the cake batter result in the most golden, melt-in-the-mouth crumb imaginable. The slight acidity of the cocoa butter and milk solids in the white chocolate perfume the cake with a lemon essence that perfectly complements the lemon curd filling and white chocolate lemon buttercream. Yum!



Volume Ounce Gram
white chocolate containing cocoa butter, chopped . 6 170
about 6 large egg yolks, at room temperature ¼ cup plus 3 tablespoons (3.5 fluid ounces) 4 112
milk 1 cup (8 fluid ounces), divided 8.5 242
pure vanilla extract teaspoons . .
cake flour (or bleached all-purpose flour) 3 cups (or 2⅔ cups), sifted into the cup and leveled off 10.5 300
superfine sugar 1 cup plus 3 tablespoons 8.5 240
baking powder teaspoons . .
salt ¾ teaspoon . .
lemon zest, finely grated 1 teaspoon, loosely packed . .
unsalted butter (65° to 75°F/19° to 23°C) 9 tablespoons (1 stick plus 1 tablespoon) 4.5 128

Special Equipment

Two 9 by 2-inch round cake pans, encircled with cake strips, bottoms coated with shortening, topped with parchment rounds, then coated with baking spray with flour


Plan Ahead

Make the lemon curd at least 3 hours ahead. Make the buttercream at least 2 hours ahead.

Preheat the Oven

Twenty minutes or more before baking, set an oven rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F/175°C.

Melt the White Chocolate

Heat the chocolate until almost completely melted. Use a small microwavable bowl, stirring with a silicone spatula every 15 seconds (or use the top of a double boiler set over hot, not simmering, water, stirring often—do not let the bottom of the container touch the water).

Remove the white chocolate from the heat and, with the silicone spatula, stir until fully melted. Allow it to cool until it is no longer warm to the touch but is still fluid.

Mix the Liquid Ingredients

In a medium bowl, whisk the yolks, ⅓ cup of the milk, and the vanilla just until lightly combined.

Make the Batter

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the flat beater, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and lemon zest on low speed for 30 seconds. Add the butter and the remaining milk. Mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened. Raise the speed to medium and beat for 1½ minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Starting on medium-low speed, gradually add the egg mixture to the batter in three parts, beating on medium speed for 20 seconds after each addition to incorporate the ingredients and strengthen the structure. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the melted white chocolate and beat to incorporate it. Using the silicone spatula, scrape the batter into the prepared pans and smooth the surfaces evenly with a small offset spatula. Each pan will be almost half full (21 ounces/600 grams).

Bake the Cakes

Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, or until golden brown, a wire cake tester inserted in the centers comes out clean, and the cakes spring back when pressed lightly in the centers. The cakes should start to shrink from the sides of the pans only after removal from the oven.

Cool and Unmold the Cakes

Let the cakes cool in the pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Run a small metal spatula between the sides of the pans and the cakes, pressing firmly against the pans, and invert the cakes onto wire racks that have been coated lightly with nonstick cooking spray. To prevent splitting, reinvert the cakes so that the tops are up. Cool completely.

Make the Lemon Curd

See recipe.

White Chocolate Lemon Buttercream

See recipe.

Compose the Cake

Cut each layer in half. Spread ½ cup/4.3 ounces/122 grams of the remaining lemon curd on the bottom layer of each of the two sets of layers. Set the upper layers on top of each bottom layer. Spread it almost to the edges as the weight of the upper layer will push it out just to the edge. Reserve the remaining lemon curd to garnish the buttercream.

Spread a little buttercream on a 9-inch cardboard round or serving plate and place one set of layers on top. If using the plate, slide a few wide strips of wax paper or parchment under the cake to keep the rim of the plate clean. Spread the top of the first set of layers with about ¾ cup/6.5 ounces/183 grams of the buttercream. Set the second set of layers on top of the first. Frost the top and sides with the remaining buttercream. With a small metal spatula, make attractive swirls in the frosting. Refrigerate the cake for about 1 hour to set the buttercream. Swirl dollops of the reserved lemon curd into the buttercream. If using the paper strips, slowly slide them out from under the cake. Serve at room temperature.

In this section