Lemon Cake with Cheese Frosting and Roasted Rhubarb

A classic treat for those who always have some room left for cake…



For 8-10 people

Lemon sponge (recipe adopted from Gourmet Traveller)

250 g butter, softened
400 g caster sugar
Zest of 3 unwaxed lemons (finely grated) and the juice of 1½
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
5 large free-range eggs, lightly whisked
400 g plain flour, sieved
5 tsp baking powder
150 ml milk, room temperature
150 g sour cream, room temperature

Lemon cream cheese frosting

300 ml double cream
200 g caster sugar
360 g Philadelphia cream cheese, full-fat
5 tbsp lemon curd

Rhubarb topping

250 g forced rhubarb, washed, trimmed and cut into 3 to 4 cm pieces
65 g golden caster sugar
Juice and zest of 1 unwaxed orange
½ tsp vanilla bean paste (or seeds of ½ vanilla pod)
1 tsp corn starch
A handful of raspberries (optional)


Lemon sponge

Preheat the oven to 180 °C / 160 °C fan / gas mark 4. Line a rounded 22 cm-diameter cake tin with baking paper, both bottom and sides (use some soft butter to stick the baking paper). 

Use an electric mixer to beat the butter, sugar, lemon zest and vanilla bean paste until it's pale and fluffy. 

Reduce the speed of the mixer and slowly add the eggs. Beat for another minute until well incorporated. Beat in half the flour and half the baking powder.

In a separate bowl, whisk milk, lemon juice and sour cream until smooth, then gently beat into the batter. Manually fold in the remaining flour and baking powder to just combine.

Pour the batter into the cake tin and smooth top with a palette knife. Bake in the middle of the oven until golden (60 to 70 minutes). Take the cake out of the oven and let it cool completely on a wire rack before removing from the tin.

If needed, trim the top flat with a long, serrated knife and, using the same knife or a cake leveler, cut the cake into 4 even layers of about 1.5 - 2cm thickness.

Lemon cream cheese frosting

Whisk the double cream together with the sugar until it forms stiff peaks. Be careful not to over-whisk it though – it happens quickly!

In a separate bowl, briefly whisk the cream cheese and lemon curd until well combined. Fold the whipped cream under the cream cheese mixture and chill for about 30 minutes. 

Rhubarb topping

Preheat the oven (same as for the lemon sponge) and place the rhubarb pieces onto a baking tray. Add sugar, orange juice and zest, vanilla and corn starch.

Mix it all with your hands until rhubarb is coated evenly with the sugar and corn starch. Arrange rhubarb pieces in a single layer and bake for 12 to 15 minutes until it's soft but still holding shape. Try not to stir the rhubarb as it falls apart very easily.

Assembling the cake

Place one cake layer on a cake board or serving plate and spread one cup of the cream cheese frosting on top with a cake palette. Top with another layer and cover with the same amount of frosting.

Repeat with the remaining two layers and spread the remaining frosting on top and all around the sides, letting some of the cake layers shine through to create a naked look.

Refrigerate the cake for 2 to 3 hours before topping with the baked rhubarb and raspberries.

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Photographer, Writer
Baking, Cooking
Vinny is a professional photographer based in London. He specialises in food and works for a number of the UK's leading supermarkets. If he's not nudging bits of herbs a little to the left or right at his studio in Shepherd's Bush he might be found taking pictures of the night sky (he has a background in astronomy) or giving planetarium tours and lectures on photography aboard cruise ships around the world. 
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Stylist, Writer
Baking, Cooking
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