“God’s extraordinary work is most often done by ordinary people in the seeming obscurity of a home and family.” –Neal A. Maxwell
2 1/4 cups (244g) cake flour
1 tablespoon (12g) baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cup (295ml) whole milk or buttermilk, room temperature
4 large egg whites, room temperature
1 1/2 cup (302g) granulated sugar
2 teaspoons fine lemon zest
1 stick (8 tablespoons 113g) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon pure lemon extract
Lemon Buttercream Frosting (you might have to make almost twice this much to cover cake thoroughly)
1 cup (201g) sugar
4 large egg whites
3 sticks (339g) unsalted butter at room temperature
1/4 cup (59ml) fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2/3 cup raspberry preserves (strained for seeds, if desired)
1 1/2 cups sweetened shredded or desiccated coconut (I’m using desiccated for this cake)
Pre-heat your oven to 350°F and place a rack in the lower third of your oven. Coat two 8″ or 9″ pans with butter or nonstick spray and line the bottoms with a circle of parchment. Place the pans on a baking sheet and set aside.
In a medium bowl, sift together the cake flour, baking powder and salt and set aside.
In a second small bowl, combine the milk and egg whites and set aside.
In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine the sugar and lemon zest and mix for a minute on medium speed until fragrant. Add the butter and cream together on medium speed for 4-5 minutes until the mixture is light and fluffy. Beat in the lemon extract and then grab your bowl of flour and milk.
Reduce the mixer’s speed to slow and add 1/3rd of the flour. Once moistened, increase the speed to medium and mix until incorporated. Then add 1/2 the milk mixture and beat until the mixture is uniform. Repeat with the remaining flour and milk, alternating until you’ve finished with the last 1/3rd of the flour. Mix the batter for a further 2 minutes to ensure it is lump free and well aerated.
Divide the batter between your baking pans (I think it was a bit over 500g for each pan) and bake for 30 to 35 minutes until the centers of the cake springs back when touched lightly.
Place the cakes on wire racks to cool. After a few minutes, run a knife around the outside of the pan to release the cake and remove from the pans. Allow to cool right side up until room temperature.
To make the buttercream:
Combine the sugar and egg whites in a bowl over simmering water. Whisking constantly, beat until the mixture is warm to the touch and the sugar is no longer gritty. Remove from heat and continue to beat until you have a thick, glossy meringue.
Transfer the meringue to the bowl of your stand mixer with the paddle attachment and beat for several minutes on medium speed. Once the bowl of the mixer feels cool to the touch you can add your butter, one stick at a time beating on medium high. Once the butter is all in, continue to beat for 6-10 minutes.
The mixture may seem to curdle at some point but don’t worry, continue to beat and it will come together into a velvety buttercream.
Once well beaten, you can add the lemon juice a little at a time, beat until absorbed and then adding more. Then add the vanilla and you’re ready to frost.
To assemble the cake:
For a four layer cake, level and divide the layers with a serrated knife. Place the bottom layer onto a cake round (or onto a cake plate with tuck strips of wax paper under the cake to protect the plate while frosting).
Spread a third of the raspberry preserves onto the bottom layer of the cake and then a layer of buttercream. The trick to layering buttercream on top of a slippery layer of preserves is to put your buttercream into a disposable piping bag (or ziplock bag) and cut off a 1/3″ diameter opening. Starting in the center of the layer, pipe a coil of buttercream. Continue to coil tightly, round and round until you have an even layer of icing on top. No need to spread the frosting with a spatula using this method. Top with a second layer of cake and repeat two more times. Place the last layer on top and then crumb coat the cake with a thin layer of icing. Chill the cake until the icing is firm and then frost the cake with the remaining butter cream. Smooth the remaining buttercream over the cake with an offset spatula until it is level and smooth.
Sprinkle the coconut over the top of the cake and coat the sides by gently pouring the coconut between your hand and the cake.
The cake is best eaten the day it is made. If you need to store it, refrigerate it covered for up to two days, allowing plenty of time to bring it back to room temperature before serving.