Annie turned 7 in June. We weren't able to celebrate on her birthday, since she lives with her mum, daddy and siblings in London, UK. We're celebrating this weekend, however, as they all arrive today for a long summer holiday (as they say in Europe). I asked Annie a few weeks ago what kind of cake she'd like for her birthday celebration and she responded, without hesitation, "Lemon!". So lemon it is!
I saw a 14-layer version of this cake on Pinterest and followed it to the Bakerella blog. At first, I thought that the layers were sliced thin, but after reading the instructions, I realized that each layer is baked in a separate pan. To me, that made the whole thing much simpler. I have four 8-inch pans, so I baked the cakes in two batches, letting the pans cool and washing them, in between batches. You could make it super simple by baking the layers in disposable aluminum foil pans, as suggested on Bakerella.
The cake recipe is an old family recipe, not my family or anyone I know, but a family named Smith. The story's told that this cake was famous in Art Smith's (former personal chef to Oprah Winfrey) family. It was handed down from generation to generation and was a huge hit at every reunion, party or family celebration. Hence the name, Smith Family's 12-Layer Cake.
The cake comes out moist and light and makes a tall, celebration-worthy dessert. I adapted it by adding fresh lemon juice and zest to the batter. I used my own icing recipe, adding again, Annie's requested "lemon" to the delicious buttercream.
Seven Layer Lemon Cake with Blackberry Buttercream Filling - this stunning layer cake is absolutely a show stopper for your next special occasion. With the blackberry buttercream filling, it tastes even better than it looks!
So there you have it; Annie's Seven Layer Lemon Cake with Blackberry Buttercream Filling, perfect for a party of any kind!
We can't wait to celebrate your birthday Annie! You're becoming such a lovely young lady and your Grammy and Papa are so.......... proud of you!
Hope your mum remembers to show you this before you get on the plane today. We'll be here at the other end to give all of you lots of hugs and kisses ... and to eat cake with you!!
- 4 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 12 ounces butter at room temperature
- 2 ½ cups sugar
- 6 large eggs at room temperature
- 2 ¾ cups milk
- ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
- finely grated zest from one lemon
- 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- 4 ounces butter
- 1 cup fresh blackberries
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 3 -3 ½ cups powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 8 ounces butter
- juice and zest of 1 fresh lemon
- 8 cups powdered sugar
- 2 tablespoons milk more as needed
Position racks in the center and bottom third of the oven and preheat to 375° F. Spray four 8-inch cake pans (you will bake the cakes in two batches) and rub spray to completely coat the pans. Line the bottoms with round pieces of parchment paper. Spray the pans again lightly.
Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Sift the mixture one more time, and set aside.
Beat the butter and sugar in the bowl of a heavy-duty electric mixer fitted with the paddle blade on high speed until light in color and texture, about 3 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Scrape down the bowl and be sure the mixture is well blended. On low speed, add the flour in 3 increments, alternating with 2 additions of the milk, beginning and ending with the flour, and beat until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl often with a rubber spatula. Beat in the lemon juice, lemon zeset and vanilla. Using about 1 ¾ cups for each layer, spread the batter evenly in the pans.
Staggering the pans on the racks so they are at least 2 inches from each other and the sides of the oven and not directly over each other, bake the layers until they feel firm when pressed in the centers and are beginning to pull away from the sides of the pans, about 18-20 minutes. Cool in the pans for 5 minutes. Invert the layers onto cake racks, remove the parchment paper and cool completely. Wash and prepare three of the pans again as directed above. Repeat the procedure until all 7 layers have been baked and cooled.
To finish the cake, place one of the layers on a cake plate and spread with about ⅙th of the blackberry icing. Stack the remaining cakes, spreading icing between each layer. Spread a thin layer of the lemon icing over the sides and top of the cake. This is your crumb coat and will make it easier to do the decorative frosting. Refrigerate cake until crumb coating is dry and set.
At this point you can either frost the cake with a offset knife or pipe the icing on as in the photos. To do the swirly icing, use a large decorating bag fitted with a Wilton 1M or 2D tip and a coupler. Fill bag ½ full of lemon buttercream. Twist top to secure. Starting at a bottom edge, with the tip perpendicular to the cake, begin swirling icing in a random pattern, back and forth and up and down. Stop from time to time to readjust your grip on the pastry bag. You want to eventually cover all of the cake. Don't worry about trying to make any pattern, it should be whimsical and random.
Place blackberries and sugar in a medium size bowl. Crush berries with a fork and allow to sit for 15 minutes. Strain berry juice into a small saucepan, pushing solids with the back of a spoon to extract as much of the berry juice as possible. Bring juice to a boil, then lower heat a bit and keep at a steady simmer until juice is reduced to about 3 tablespoons. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
For the blackberry buttercream, beat butter in the bowl of an electric mixer for 3 minutes until pale yellow and fluffy.
Add powdered sugar and blackberry reduction and beat well. Add milk to make a fluffy, spreadable icing. Beat for another 2 minutes.
For the lemon buttercream, beat butter in the bowl of an electric mixer for 3 minutes until pale yellow and fluffy.
Add powdered sugar, lemon juice and lemon zest and beat well. Add milk, if needed, to make a fluffy, spreadable icing. Beat for another 2 minutes.