Lemon Meltaway Cake

Lemon Meltaway Cake

This cake was inspired by a cookie!

Have you ever tried Lemon Meltaways? I suspect many of you have since it’s a familiar sight on holiday cookie trays (though I love making them in spring and summer). For those unfamiliar, they are powdered sugar-coated cookies with a huge lemony kick! When I first tasted this cake, I found the burst of lemon flavor so similar to those cookies that I immediately dubbed this confection “Lemon Meltaway Cake”. It’s a fitting moniker in more than one way, too. The cake layers are drenched in lemon glaze that makes the texture melt-in-your-mouth tender.

Lemon Meltaway Cake
Lemon Meltaway Cake

These swirls and kisses of buttercream almost look like meringues, don’t they? I think so. Everywhere I look (okay, mostly on Instagram) cake bakers and decorators are piling their cakes high with adorable baked meringue cookies. I decided to make some buttercream swirls instead. I froze them on waxed paper and then piled them high willy-nilly on top of the cake. After the buttercream garnishes come to room temperature, they still hold their shape! You can use this technique with almost any buttercream, just make sure it’s high butter ratio so the swirls will firm well when chilled. I love the look, and unlike baked meringues, these buttercream flourishes are so much easier to cut through when serving slices!

Lemon Meltaway Cake

Check out that texture. It’s pretty darn special, if you ask me. The cake is filled with delicious lemon curd, which adds additional tang and moisture. I usually make homemade lemon curd for layer cakes, but to make this cake less of a production I used ready-made. I like Dickinson’s Family brand because it is tangy and flavorful, and if you look at the ingredients, well, there aren’t many. And that’s a good thing. If you’d like to make your own lemon curd from scratch, then you can find my recipe at the very end of this blog post.

Lemon Meltaway Cake

I used two food colors for this cake: Wilton golden yellow and teal (both are included in this set). You may choose to omit the food color but the cake layers and frosting will be very pale (almost white) without it.

Lemon Meltaway Cake

Heather Baird
Wilton Golden Yellow gel food color was used to tint the cake layers and frosting. You can omit the food color if you prefer, but both elements will be very pale.I suggest purchasing ready-made lemon curd since this cake has several steps. I often make homemade lemon curd for cakes, and if you’d like to do the same you can find my lemon curd recipe here. Find lemon meltaway cookies, or lemon cooler cookies to serve alongside, at the grocery store or online.
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Prep Time 40 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Total Time 1 hr 5 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 14

Ingredients
  

Lemon Cake

  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter softened
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract
  • 1 1/4 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup powdered sugar sifted
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 1 cup lemon curd
  • 1 teaspoon golden yellow food color optional (I like Wilton brand)

Lemon frosting

  • 1 1/2 cups 3 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cream
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon golden yellow food color

Buttercream rosettes and kisses

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons milk or cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Teal gel food color I like Wilton brand

Instructions
 

  • Make the cake layers: Heat the oven to 350°F.
  • Spray three 8-inch round cake pans with flour-based baking spray (alternatively, grease and flour the pans). In a bowl, mix the flour, baking powder and salt. In a large bowl, beat the sugar and 3/4 cup butter with an electric mixer on medium speed until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well. Beat in the lemon extract. On low speed, alternately beat in the flour mixture and milk until blended. Add the food color and beat on low speed until a consistent color is achieved. Scrape down bowl as needed and re-mix briefly.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared pans (about 2 cups batter per pan). Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until a tooth pick comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes. Remove the cakes from the cake pans and level with a cake leveler or serrated knife. Return the leveled cakes to their pans. With a skewer (or fork tines) poke the tops of the cake at 1-inch spaces. Whisk together 1 cup powdered sugar and 1/3 cup lemon juice until smooth. Spoon the glaze over the cakes. Let stand 10 minutes. Remove from the cake pans; place the cakes on a cooling rack (glazed side-up) and let cool completely, about 1 hour.
  • For the 8-inch triple layer cake, cover two cakes with 1/2 cup of lemon curd each. Stack the cakes, ending with the plain cake layer on top. If making the 9-inch double layer version, spread one cake layer with the lemon curd and top with the remaining cake layer.
  • Make the lemon frosting: In a large bowl, beat 1 1/2 cups butter, 4 cups powdered sugar, cream, lemon juice and lemon extract on low speed until well blended. Beat 3 minutes on medium speed; scrape down the bowl. Add the golden yellow food color a little at a time until a light golden color is achieved. Beat on high speed until fluffy, about 2 more minutes. Cover the entire cake with frosting using an offset spatula. Chill the cake while you prepare the decors.
  • Make the buttercream rosettes and kisses: Line a large baking sheet with waxed paper or parchment. Beat the unsalted butter and sugar in a large bowl; add the milk or cream a little at a time until the mixture is piping consistency. Add the vanilla extract and beat on high speed until well incorporated, about 2 minutes. Transfer about 1/3 of the frosting to a piping bag fitted with a large closed star tip and pipe swirls of frosting onto the waxed paper. Paint the interior of a disposable piping bag with four stripes of teal gel food color. Transfer another 1/3 of icing to the piping bag; snip the end with scissors and pipe dollops (or kisses) onto the waxed paper, the icing will stripe as you pipe (a rhyme!). Tint the remaining icing with a small dab of teal gel food color. Mix until a light teal color is achieved. Transfer the frosting to another piping bag fitted with the large closed star tip and pipe swirls on the waxed paper. Soon after the garnishes are piped they can be decorated with your choice of sprinkles (I used some tiny yellow nonpareils on the teal swirls). Transfer the pan to the freezer and let chill until frozen solid, about 30 minutes.
  • When the icing is well set, remove the cake from the refrigerator. Remove the pan of piped buttercream from the freezer and use a small offset spatula to lift the flourishes off the waxed paper and onto the top of the cake. Arrange them as you please, or do as I do and pile them high!
  • Store the cake covered in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before serving.
  • I served this cake with lemon meltaways on top. Use the recipe that follows, if you’d like to do the same.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
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SuzyMcQ
SuzyMcQ
5 years ago

Just when I think you could not possibly top your last cake…..BAM….you do it, AGAIN!!! Incredible and amazing!!!!

Ashley
Ashley
5 years ago

I don't think I can make it through the weekend with out having this cake. I've just added this to the top of my weekend to do list! YUM!

Anca
Anca
5 years ago

What an interesting idea to use buttercream, sounds great. The cake looks amazing.

œuvres d'art originales
œuvres d'art originales
5 years ago

WOW!

Her Cup of Joy
Her Cup of Joy
5 years ago

Wow this cake looks incredible! I've been noticing a lot of those cute meringue topped cakes, but I would rather have some real buttercream kisses on top instead anyday:) good job on the cake!

June Burns
June Burns
5 years ago

What a brilliant cake idea!! Lemon meltaway cookies are good, but this cake version sounds waaaaay better IMHO 🙂

Medeja- CranberryJam
Medeja- CranberryJam
5 years ago

This cake looks fantastic. What a beautiful decoration.

Jasline @ Foodie Baker
Jasline @ Foodie Baker
5 years ago

What a delicious and beautiful cake! The idea of topping them with buttercream "meringue" looks amazing! And I love your cake stand, elegant and pretty!

Kaitlin
Kaitlin
5 years ago

OMG YOU ARE BRILLIANT. I love those meringue-topped cakes I keep seeing, but I am totes not into the idea of making a bunch of meringue (especially during such a humid summer). This solves the dilemma.

Also, that cakes looks insanely moist. I can't wait to try this one!!

Allergychef
Allergychef
5 years ago

Amazing recipe! What a beautiful cake 🙂 Thank you!

Beauty Follower
Beauty Follower
5 years ago
Sandi
Sandi
5 years ago

You make the most beautiful cakes. Seriously.

Renee @ Awesome on $20
Renee @ Awesome on $20
5 years ago

This cake is so gorgeous. I must have something lemony right right right now!

Anonymous
Anonymous
5 years ago

You did not specify when to add lemon juice and powdered sugar into to the better, I was following the direction exactly like it was posted on your site and it came out hard as a rock. Very disappointed…;-(

Heather Baird
Heather Baird
5 years ago
Reply to  Anonymous

Hi Anonymous – in the recipe under "Make the cake layers" 2nd paragraph (beginning with "Pour the batter…") 7th sentence says:

"Whisk together 1 cup powdered sugar and 1/3 cup lemon juice until smooth. Spoon the glaze over the cakes. Let stand 10 minutes."

You don't mix the powdered sugar and lemon juice into the batter, you pour it over the cakes after they bake.

Anonymous
Anonymous
5 years ago

My favorite lemon curd is from Trader Joe's. It's British I believe. It's just lovely.

Katherine
Katherine
5 years ago

Where did you get that cake stand? The cake is beautiful!

Paula
Paula
5 years ago

Hi Heather. I made your lovely cake today. I made it into 3 8" layers. Wondering, in your recipe you say that each pan will hold approx. 2 cups of batter. I did divide the batter equally, but my layers are very thin. Maybe 1" tall at the most-no dome so I am not sure if I do need to level? Does this sound correct?

Heather Baird
Heather Baird
5 years ago
Reply to  Paula

Hi Paula,

Hmm. My cakes domed on top, and they definitely rose over 1-inch. I'm wondering if something hapened with the leavening? I would skip leveling this time. The cake height sounds short, but I'm hoping things will turn out a-ok in the end. I'd love to know how it turns out! Best of luck!

Unknown
Unknown
5 years ago

Hi Heather! First of all, sorry if this comment double posts- I've been having a lot of trouble getting my computer to work with me. Anyway, I tried making your lemon melt away cookies to put on top of this cake, but they turned into a total disaster! All that came out of the oven was a bubbling pool of lemon-scented butter :(. Any ideas?? I chilled my dough for more than an hour and it was very firm when I put it in the oven. I noticed that there aren't any eggs in your recipe… is that correct? Thanks… Read more »

Heather Baird
Heather Baird
5 years ago
Reply to  Unknown

Hi Kate!

I'm so sorry to hear your cookies melted! So frustrating. There aren't any eggs called for in the recipe. It's an old Southern Living recipe that I've used for ages ( you can see the original recipe here http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/lemon-meltaways ). I'm thinking maybe your oven got too hot? It's hard to say. If you attempt them a second time, then I'd suggest reducing the heat by 25 degrees and bake them on a light aluminum baking sheet. I hope this helps! Again, I'm so sorry you ran into trouble!

Unknown
Unknown
4 years ago

Hi Heather,

Have you tried this recipe with cupcakes? It sounds delicious. I need a lemon cupcake and am wondering how they'll turn out.

Thank you.

Colette (Coco)
Colette (Coco)
4 years ago

One word:
Luscious.

Paula
Paula
3 years ago

Hello Heather. I need to make a lemon cake, and I always turn to you for spectacular recipes and ideas. I believe I made this cake in 2015. I think the Nov. 5, 2015 prior post is mine. This time, I want to make this cake taller. I will be using 8" pans, and would like at least 3 layers, but I am hoping that each baked layer will stand at around 1 1/2" tall. Last time I made it, my layers were only around 1" and kinda thin. Do you think I can double the recipe for more batter,… Read more »