Selby’s 30th Birthday Cake

Today is my sister, Selby’s, 30th birthday. It’s the beginning of a new era in her life as she closes the chapter on her twenties and embarks on the exciting adventure that her thirties will bring. Although she has been dreading this new number, her future looks very bright. She has an adorable 16 month old boy and her husband, Kevin, is over half-way done with his anesthesia residency.

To ring in this big milestone, we celebrated a few weeks early when my sister and her family were in town at the beginning of the month. My sister is a serious lemon-lover and she requested the same cake I made her last year: lemon curd cake with lemon Swiss meringue buttercream frosting.

The only difference from this year compared to last is that I made my own lemon curd for the cake batter and to sandwich between the layers this time around. I followed this helpful YouTube video and the resulting curd was scrumptiously tart and addictive.

The cake didn’t make it through the weekend and the birthday girl gave it great reviews.

Happy 30th birthday, Selby. I love you!

Selby’s beautiful family

I can’t believe how big this boy has gotten compared to this photo from one year ago…

Lemon Curd Cake with Lemon Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting

Tomorrow is my older sister’s birthday. Selby is now to the point where she doesn’t like telling everyone how old she is, though I will tell you she isn’t “old” at all- she’s not even 30 yet. That birthday is next year ;). Selby, Kevin, and their adorable baby Jack visited Robert and me two weeks ago and we celebrated her birthday early. When I asked her what type of cake she was craving, she said she wanted lemon and lots of it. I perused my cookbooks and found this recipe from Martha Stewart. WithΒ  ingredients of lemon zest, lemon juice, and lemon curd, I knew this would be right up her alley. The cake is delicate and moist and the layers are sandwiched with lemon curd to add an extra lemon punch. This was my first time making Swiss meringue buttercream and I will definitely be making it again. It’s fluffy and light, but richer than whipped cream frosting; and adding in the lemon curd makes the final product a lemon-lovers dream. My sister loved it and Robert, who normally isn’t a lemon enthusiast, really enjoyed it as well. Next year, I am hoping Jack will be able to enjoy a few bites of birthday cake. :)

Side note- I wanted to make my own lemon curd for the cake, but I unfortunately didn’t get a chance to do so. Lemon curd can be a bit pricey, but the Trader Joe’s version is only $2.99 per jar and quite delicious.

The beautiful birthday girl and her 5-month-old little man!

Lemon Curd Cake with Lemon Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting

Printable Version


For the Cake

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups cake flour (not self-rising)
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 Tbsp finely grated lemon zest (from 2 lemons)
  • 2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 1/2 lemon)
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups lemon curd (to fill between the cake layers)

For the Frosting

  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into tablespoons
  • 3/4 cup lemon curd


For the Cake

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter 2 9×2 inch round cake pans and line with parchment paper. Butter parchment paper and lightly sprinkle with flour. Into a medium bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt. In a separate small bowl, combine the sour cream, zest and juice. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on high speed until fluffy, about 1 minute. Add the sugar and continue beating until light and fluffy, about 4-5 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, making sure each egg is well incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture in four parts, alternating with the sour cream mixture. Begin and end with the flour mixture. Beat just until combined- don’t overmix!

Divide batter evenly between the two pans. Bake until golden brown and a test comes out clean, 30-35 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and cool for 20 minutes. Flip the cake pans out of the pan and allow to cool completely.

Using a serrated knife, carefully cut each layer in half horizontally (I placed the cakes in the freezer for 20 minutes before doing this to make it easier to cut). Place one of the layers on a cake plate and spread generously with lemon curd. Place the next layer on top and repeat.

For the Frosting

Set a heatproof bowl of an electric mixer over a saucepan of simmering water. Combine the egg whites and sugar in the bowl. Cook, whisking constantly, until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is warm to the touch.

Attach the bowl to the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat on high speed until stiff peaks form. Continue beating until the mixture is fluffy and cooled.

Switch to the paddle attachment. With the mixer on medium-low speed, gradually add the butter, beating well after each addition. If the frosting appears to separate after all the butter has been added, beat on medium-high speed until smooth again. Beat in lemon curd. Beat on lowest speed to eliminate any air bubbles, about 2 minutes. Stir with a rubber spatula until frosting is smooth.

Place in the fridge and allow to cool slightly before icing the cake.

Source: Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook