I love serving decadent cakes for special occasions – there’s just something so comforting and classic about serving slices of cake alongside a cup of coffee after a delicious meal. However, while I want to impress my guests I also don’t have hours (or the expertise) to create some of the wacky cakes I see on social media – I want beautiful yet simple.
This light and luscious Lemon Layer Cake with creamy lemon buttercream and cute sugared cranberries is surprisingly easy to make and decorate for just about any occasion – but especially when cranberries are in season.
This Lemon Layer Cake with Sugared Cranberries and swirled lemon buttercream should be started the day before you plan to serve it – or early in the morning if you can plan on no kid interruptions!
It’s important that the cakes are properly cooled before any layering or decorating starts, and when decorating it’s nice to not feel like you’re in a rush in case you want to scrape off a bit of icing and re-do a few swirls.
But even more important that than is to be confident in your decorating and remember that less is more. You’ll never go wrong with subtle touches and it’s easier to fix a simple cake than one that has had a whole lot going on! The cake decorations are meant to enhance the wow-factor, but the big winner here is that delicious, fluffy lemon cake with perfect lemon buttercream so don’t worry if you don’t think your cake looks like a showstopper – because it definitely is going to taste like one!
How to Make Cranberry Lemon Cake:
Ingredients for Cranberry Lemon Cake:
1¼ cups all purpose flour
1½ cups cake flour (or additional all purpose flour)
½ teaspoon baking soda
1½teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1½ cups sugar
⅔ cup oil (vegetable, olive or walnut are all great options)
⅓ cup vegetable shortening at room temperature
1 teaspoon good quality vanilla extract
2 teaspoons pure lemon extract (or 1 Tablespoon lemon juice)
3 large eggs
1½ cups buttermilk
Zest of two small or one large lemons
For the frosting:
1 cup butter
4-6 cups powdered, icing sugar
2 Tablespoons lemon zest
3 Tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons coffee cream or heavy cream, optional
For the sugared cranberries:
1/2 cup cranberries
1/2 cup cold water
1/2 cup white sugar
Preheat oven to 325F.
Grease and line the bottoms of 2 round 9″ cake pans.
Sift together both flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt and sugar. Set aside.
Beat together the oil, shortening, vanilla and lemon extract until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat the eggs in one at a time, then the lemon zest.
Fold in half of the dry ingredients, then the buttermilk, followed by the remaining dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk.
Stir until just combined, then pour into your prepared cake pans.
Bake for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
While the cakes are cooling, prepare your frosting.
Place the butter and 4 cups of sugar in a large mixing bowl and beat until uniform.
Add the lemon juice and lemon zest, and more powdered sugar as needed. Beat for at least one minute before making adjustments.
I liked using a mix of cream and lemon juice to achieve a creamy buttercream that wasn’t too tart, but go with your own personal preferences.
Cut your cakes into even layers using your preferred method, and then give a light crumb coat (a thin layer of frosting that seals in crumbs, preventing them from ruining your final layer of frosting).
Let the crumb coat set fully before adding a final, smooth layer of lemon buttercream.
Add the remaining buttercream to a piping bag fitted with a star tip and swirl on the edge of the cake with small, circular wrist motions.
Sugar the cranberries by dipping in water and then rolling in white sugar.
Add the sugared cranberries in a row alongside the swirl of frosting, and then enclose them with along circle of frosting on the inside.
Keep covered or in the fridge until ready to serve.
Do you have a special occasion coming up that this luscious lemon layer cake would be perfect for?
For more delicious cake recipes, check out: