As promised, today I’m going to share how I made Phil’s messy but delicious lemon birthday cake. This rich, buttery bundt cake is infused with lemon zest, filled with a delicious Meyer lemon curd, and topped with a tart lemon glaze. Too much lemon? Never.
Phil is still avoiding wheat this month while he’s working to figure out which foods might be responsible for his digestive issues, so he requested that I try making a gluten-free birthday cake for him this year. He even brought home some King Arthur Flour Gluten Free Yellow Cake Mix from work (he works at Sur La Table) for me to play around with. Normally I wouldn’t be making a birthday cake from a box, but I don’t have much experience with gluten-free baking and I trust King Arthur Flour as a brand, so I agreed to give a try.
I started digging around the King Arthur Flour site to see if they had any interesting recipes that involved the gluten-free yellow cake mix. One of the cake variations I found was a Lemon Bundt Cake that uses the cake mix along with some extra almond flour and lemon zest. That sounded like something Phil (and I) would like so I decided to give it a try. I had already been thinking about making some Meyer lemon curd with the lemons from our tree and decided that instead of serving the lemon curd on the side, I’d try splitting the bundt cake into thirds and filling it with lemon curd. I have to admit that I haven’t actually seen any layered bundt cakes in real life, but in my head it looked like a rustic but beautiful creation!
It was certainly rustic, anyway…
So the cake didn’t turn out exactly the way I had envisioned it. My layers were totally uneven, which could have been fine except I put them together the wrong way. And then when I tried to turn them around to make everything line up correctly, all the lemon curd squished out in big globs. And then I tried to make it look better by pouring glaze all over it but glaze ran down into the globs of lemon curd and it all just kind of melted together in a big mess. Basically, every time I tried to “fix” the cake, it just looked worse.
Luckily, both the cake and the lemon curd were so delicious I didn’t really worry too much about how it looked. My family and I had a pretty good laugh about it, Phil loved the cake and had a great birthday, and all was well in the end. Gluten-free or not, this was probably the best lemon cake I’ve ever made. It tasted like a rich, buttery pound cake, but was nice and tender. Even if/when Phil starts eating wheat again, I’ll make this cake again exactly the same way.
I have to send a huge thank you to David Lebovitz for his delicious, quick, and easy lemon curd recipe. It is the best curd I’ve made and his “slightly daredevil method” worked perfectly.
I’m going to give you the exact recipe I used for the gluten-free cake and I really do recommend it this way, but of course you could turn your favorite lemon bundt cake recipe into a messy layered lemon bundt cake by just slicing the finished cake (unevenly) and filling with enough lemon curd that it will ooze all over the sides when you accidentally put the layers on wrong and then try to turn them around. And don’t forget to glaze it – it will look worse, but it will taste great!
Gluten-Free Layered Lemon Pound Cake with Meyer Lemon Curd
adapted from King Arthur Flour’s Gluten-Free Lemon Bundt Cake
for the cake:
1 box King Arthur Flour Gluten-Free Yellow Cake Mix
1 cup almond flour (I used Honeyville brand)
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 tablespoons olive oil
grated zest of two lemons
4 large eggs
2/3 cup buttermilk
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Butter a 12-cup bundt cake pan and set aside.
2. Pour cake mix into a large bowl. Add the almond flour and whisk to combine. Set aside.
3. In a large bowl using a hand mixer or in the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter, oil, and lemon zest together until creamy then blend in 1/3 of the flour mixture. Using lowest speed, blend in the eggs one at a time, mixing until blended after each one. Add 1/3 of the buttermilk followed by 1/3 of the remaining flour mixture and continue alternating, blending just until smooth and scraping the bowl after each addition.
4. Pour the batter into the prepared bundt pan and smooth the top with a spatula.
5. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes until the cake is brown and the middle of the cake feels firm when pressed. Remove cake from the oven, let cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then turn out of the pan onto a rack. Let cool completely before assembling the cake.
1 cup homemade lemon curd (use this recipe), well chilled
2 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons lemon juice
grated zest of one lemon
Whisk together all ingredients. Add more lemon juice for a thinner glaze or more powdered sugar for a thicker glaze.
assemble the cake:
Using a long thin knife, cut the cake horizontally into three layers. Place the bottom layer on a serving plate and spread it with half of the lemon curd then top with the middle cake layer. Spread the remaining lemon curd on the middle layer then top with the top layer. Drizzle glaze all over the top of the cake. If making ahead of time, cover and refrigerate the cake. Remove from the refrigerator an hour or two before serving as cake tastes best at room temperature. Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator. Cake stays moist and improves in flavor on day two.