Lemon Honey Apricot Cake – lemon cake paired with honey buttercream and apricot jam filling to create a flavor palette that’s bright, fresh and slightly floral. A new layer cake recipe by our contributor, Tessa Huff.
While we wait in anticipation for longer days and sunnier skies, aka summer – aka berry season, I wanted to create a cake to withstand all the seasons. Robust, cinnamon-scented, and decadent desserts warm our souls in the fall once all the strawberries have been picked and pumpkin-everything begins to take over our lives. But for late spring, when we can’t hardly wait to hit the beach and have long stashed away our boots and scarves, I went for something delicate and fresh yet still extremely flavorful.
This cake is like perfect denim jacket weather – when it’s slightly crisp in the shade but perfectly warm in the sun without breaking into a sweat. The flavors – lemon, apricot, and honey – can be found all-year round, making this a great cake for in between seasons. With a flavor palette that is bright and fresh from the lemon, sweet yet tart from the apricot, and slightly floral from the honey, I think it’s the perfect cake for a Mother’s Day brunch, afternoon tea, or even a bridal shower. The pastel décor doesn’t hurt either.
What I love about this cake, besides the swirly pastel buttercream and fluffy boarders, is how well the flavors pair together. The zest and brightness from the lemon is subtle, but the cake layers also get a flavor boost by substituting some of the butter for tangy cream cheese. Apricot jam can be quite sweet, but when spread thinly between the layers, the burst of flavor and bit of tartness is welcoming in each bite. American buttercream, the kind made with powdered sugar, can be really sweet on its own. Flavor it with honey and it can be pretty overpowering. Instead, I’ve added honey to my favorite Swiss meringue buttercream for a silky, sweet, and slightly floral finish. As with most butter cakes, this one is served best at room temperature.
Lemon Honey Apricot Cake
Lemon Honey Apricot Cake – lemon cake paired with honey buttercream and apricot jam filling to create a flavor palette that’s bright, fresh and slightly floral.
- Category: ✽ ✽ ✽ ✽
For the Lemon Cake:
- 1 ½ cups cake flour
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 1 ¾ cup sugar
- zest of one lemon
- 3 eggs
- 1 egg white
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup milk
- ¼ cup lemon juice
For the Honey Buttercream:
- 6 egg whites
- 2 cups sugar
- 3 cups unsalted butter, softened
- ½ to ⅔ cup honey, or to taste
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
For the Assembly:
Make the Lemon Cake:
- Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 8-inch cake pans and set aside.
- Sift together the cake flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and cream cheese on medium speed until smooth. Add in the sugar and lemon zest. Continue to mix until light and fluffy – 3 to 5 minutes. With the mixer on medium-low, add in the eggs and egg white, one at a time. Add in the vanilla extract. Stop the mixer and scrap down the bowl.
- With the mixer on low, carefully add in half of the dry ingredients. Once incorporated, slowly stream in the milk, then the lemon juice. Add in the remaining dry ingredients. Once incorporated, mix the batter on medium speed for no more than about 30 seconds.
- Evenly distribute the batter into the prepared pans. Bake for 28 to 34 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack for 10 to 20 minutes before removing the cakes from their pans.
Make the Honey Buttercream:
- Place egg whites and sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk until combined.
- Place bowl over a pan of simmering water to create a double-boiler. Whisking constantly, heat the egg mixture until it registers 160 degrees on a candy thermometer. Carefully transfer the bowl onto the stand mixer.
- Using the whisk attachment, beat the egg white mixture on high speed for 8 to 10 minutes until the bowl is no longer warm to the touch and the meringue is fluffy, glossy and holds a stiff peak.
- Switch to the paddle attachment. With the mixer on medium-low, add in the butter, a few tablespoons at a time, and mix until incorporated. Add in the vanilla extract. Turn the mixer up to medium-high and mix until silky smooth.
- Add in the honey and mix to combine. At any point does the buttercream appear curdled, just keep mixing. If the buttercream appears soupy, try placing it in the refrigerator for about 10 to 15 minutes then mixing again.
Assemble the Cake:
- Once the cakes have completely cooled, carefully slice them in half horizontally with a long, serrated knife. Place the bottom layer on a cake board or serving dish. Spread on about ¾ cup honey buttercream. Slightly hollow out the center of the buttercream with the back of a large spoon. Fill the buttercream “bowl” with about ¼ to 1/3 cup apricot jam. Top with the next layer of cake and repeat.
- Crumb coat and then frost the cake with the remaining buttercream.
- To decorate as pictured, reserve about 1 cup of the buttercream. Tint it your desired color choice(s). I picked a soft pink and pale golden yellow. For the watercolor finish, frost the cake as normal. Just before the cake is completely smooth, dab on several small spots of color all around and on top of the cake. As you continue to smooth out the cake, the colors will begin to blend together. Add more color as needed. However, the more you smooth, the more blended the colors will become.
- Finish off the cake by piping fluffy shell boarders using a medium-large star tip, like a Wilton 1B.