Have a Happy Lemon Birthday!

Lemon Layer Cake

Lemon Layer Cake makes any birthday brighter.

If you can at all help it, never work on your birthday.  I learned that the hard way one year.  Working the day before your birthday, however, is fantastic.  It’s like having a birthday for two days in a row.  For example, after a morning meeting, I came back to an office decorated with a lovely bouquet, a mile high lemon cake, homemade muffins and, thoughtfully, a bowl of lemon drops, referencing my Lemon Drop Lady post.  

Lunchtime was filled with waves hello and cheery voices from various grades and groups of students  calling, “Happy Birthday, Ms. Loverbean!”  Sixth graders don’t mind throwing in a few hugs.  Such dears! After lunches, the office staff sang to me and and demanded a little speech, which was all about how great they are to work with, naturally.  We sliced up and distributed the rich, dense, lemony cake and went about our day all the sweeter.  

With so much cake still left on the plate, I asked a nearby class of  six ELL (English Language Learners) if I could share some with them.  They were delighted at the prospect so I cut six thin slices, grabbed several school milks, and joined their class.  First, though, they sweetly stood and sang Happy Birthday to me in Spanish.  Ifeliz cumpleaños!  Word must have gotten around because after that, a group of seventh and eight graders came by to sing for their cake too.  Complete with the “cha, cha, chas.”  Like the multiplying loaves of bread and baskets of fish—or the Energizer Bunny—this cake kept giving.  

Now, I was able to wheedle the recipe out of our amazing secretary, but she was a little reluctant to share.  And not because she is greedy.  She notes that the original recipe said to cut the two layers in half, but they cake layers didn’t seem high enough.  So, being the common sense, no-messing around kind of gal that she is, she just made two more!   Still, we all loved it and the denser layers stood up to the height.  My boss says that this weekend she is making a similar, but lighter lemon layer cake from the Best of the Best cookbook for her son’s birthday. We will have to make that later to compare.

No matter, lemon always makes birthdays better.  And even more so when you get to brighten someone elses day by having your cake and sharing it, too.  🙂

Jeanne’s Meyer Lemon Layer Cake

 Lemon Cake

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 1/4 cups white sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon lemon emulsion (can use extract)
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • ¼ cup Meyer lemon juice

Lemon Filling

  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh Meyer lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup fresh Meyer lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 4 egg yolks, beaten

Lemon Butter Cream Frosting 

  • 4 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons fresh Meyer lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh Meyer lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon lemon emulsion (can use extract)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour two 8 inch round pans. Mix together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the lemon emulsion. Beat in the flour mixture alternately with the milk and lemon juice, mixing just until incorporated.
  3. Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool in pans on wire racks for 10 minutes. Then invert onto wire racks to cool completely.
  4. To make filling: In medium saucepan, mix together 1 tablespoon lemon zest, 1/2 cup lemon juice and 1 tablespoon cornstarch until smooth. Mix in 6 tablespoons butter and 3/4 cup sugar, and bring mixture to boil over medium heat. Boil for one minute, stirring constantly. In small bowl, with a wire whisk, beat egg yolks until smooth. Whisk in a small amount of the hot lemon mixture. Pour the egg mixture into the sauce pan, beating the hot lemon mixture rapidly. Reduce heat to low; cook, stirring constantly, 5 minutes, or until thick (not to boil).
  5. Pour mixture into medium bowl. Press plastic wrap onto surface to keep skin from forming as it cools. Cool to room temperature. Refrigerate 3 hours.
  6. To make frosting: In large bowl, beat confectioners’ sugar, 1/2 cup butter, 2 tablespoons lemon juice and 1 teaspoon lemon zest until smooth. Beat in milk and lemon emulsion, and increase speed and continue to beat until light and fluffy.
  7. To assemble: With long serrated knife, split each cake layer in half horizontally, making 4 layers. Place 1 layer, cut side up, on a serving plate. Spread with half of the lemon filling. Top with another layer, and spread with 1/2 cup frosting. Add third layer, and spread with remaining half of the lemon filling. Press on final cake layer, and frost top and sides of cake with remaining frosting. Refrigerate cake until serving time.

    Lemon Layer Birthday Cake

    Lemon Layer Birthday Cake

4 thoughts on “Have a Happy Lemon Birthday!

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