Hello, March! While the first official day of Spring is still a few weeks away- I’m ready to get started a little early with some long-overdue Spring cleaning, a bit of seasonal decorating to freshen up my apartment- and lots of baking. As much as I love a good Winter-and-snowstorm-appropriate hot meal to get me out of the cold and into warmer spirits- I’m looking forward to incorporating more things like citrus and lavender in my upcoming entrées and desserts.
I figured that with it being a new month and with a change of seasons on the horizon- I’d get things going with a decadent lemon cake featuring a bright (and delicious!) hibiscus frosting that takes just over an hour to bake and prepare and is sure to get even the most ardent of snow bunnies ready for warmer, sunnier days!
*Side Note: Be sure to brew some extra hibiscus tea to enjoy with this cake, too!*
WHAT YOU’LL NEED:
ONE 9-INCH CAKE:
- 1½ cups milk
- ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
- 2¼ sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1½ cups granulated sugar
- Zest of 2 lemons
- 4 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 large egg yolk
- 2¼ cups all-purpose flour
- 2¼ teaspoons baking powder
- ¾ teaspoon baking soda
- ¾ teaspoon fine sea salt
- ⅓ cup heavy cream
- 3 hibiscus tea bags
- 16 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 5 cups confectioners’ sugar
WHAT YOU’LL DO:
1. MAKE THE CAKE: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour three 9-inch cake pans.
2. In a liquid measuring cup, whisk together the milk and lemon juice; set aside while you start to mix the batter.
3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, sugar and lemon zest until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, then the egg yolk, and mix until well combined. Scrape the bowl well.
4. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add a third of the flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat until incorporated. Add half the milk mixture and mix until combined. Repeat this process, alternating the dry and wet ingredients, until all are incorporated. Scrape the bowl well.
5. Divide the batter evenly between the three prepared pans and spread each into an even layer. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 27 to 30 minutes. Let cool in the pans for 15 minutes, then invert onto a cooling rack to cool completely.
6. MEANWHILE, MAKE THE HIBISCUS FROSTING: In a small pot, bring the cream to a simmer over medium heat. Add the hibiscus tea bags and stir to combine. Cover the pot and let steep for 20 minutes. Remove and discard the tea bags.
7. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the cream cheese, butter and confectioners’ sugar until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. With the mixer running, add the hibiscus cream in a slow, steady stream and mix until well combined.
8. When the cakes are cool, they are ready to decorate. Place one cake layer on a cake stand or platter. Scoop 1 cup of frosting on top and spread into an even layer. Place the second layer on top. Frost the top and side of the cake with the remaining frosting.
I love a good lemon cake- and this one is definitely up there in terms of both flavor and texture- but the frosting is the real star of the show. One of my favorite Summertime drinks is the Starbucks’ Hibiscus Refresher- so biting into this dessert has the same tart kick to it.
And of course the color is just so pretty!
This recipe can be downsized to make cupcake versions of this as well- for those of you who are looking to feed a crowd!