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Nothing speaks spring to my heart like lemon cake so tangy it makes my cheeks pinch, mounds of shredded coconut like snowdrifts, and lavish billows of ‘real’ whipped cream.

Maybe you yearn for a sweet reward after a long, cold winter, a sugary indulgence shared with friends with hot tea in the afternoon when the light begins to wane. You may feel you need a special occasion to put together one of these simple baked treats. I’ve made them for baby showers, wedding celebrations, and Easter brunch. But there is no need to wait—the making and the baking is event enough. And even if the weather hasn’t quite lost its grey chill, a spring cake will warm the heart and cheer the soul. Call a friend.

Before Shelter-in-Place, I would have said invite the neighborhood kids in after school. And if you need to ease any residual guilt—though I’ve learned cake doesn’t include guilt—wrap up individual pieces on paper plates and swing by a porch or two. As the iconic Julia Child said, “A party without cake is just a meeting.”

Happy spring! Bring on the lemons and the coconut! Let the party begin!

 
Triple Lemon Cake

INGREDIENTS

Cake:

2 Cups Flour

1½ Cups Sugar

¾ Teaspoon Baking Powder

1 Teaspoon Baking Soda

½ Teaspoon Salt

3 Eggs

Cup Canola Oil

Cup Fresh Lemon Juice

¾ Cup Sour Cream (may substitute plain yogurt)

Lemon Curd (optional: purchase ready-made lemon curd at select stores):

¼ Cup Fresh Lemon Juice

2 Teaspoons Lemon Zest

Cup Sugar

4 Egg Yolks

3 Tablespoons Butter

Frosting:

6-8 Cups Powdered Sugar

¾ Cup Softened Butter

3 Teaspoons Lemon Zest

6 Tablespoons Fresh Lemon Juice (Note: add more juice or water for desired consistency)

¾ Teaspoon Vanilla

INSTRUCTIONS

Cake: Mix dry ingredients. Add eggs, oil, and lemon juice. Beat until smooth. Add sour cream or plain yogurt and beat again until smooth. Bake in two 8-inch round cake pans for about 25 minutes at 350°F until done.

Lemon Curd: Combine all ingredients in a double boiler (or a metal bowl over a pot of simmering water). Heat while stirring constantly with a whisk until slightly thickened. Chill.

Frosting: Beat all ingredients until smooth. Add more or less powdered sugar to make the desired consistency.

Slice cooled layers horizontally. Spread lemon curd between all layers. Cover completed cake with frosting. Cut lemon slices for topping (optional).

Lemon Cake Pie

INGREDIENTS

One 9” Pie Crust, unbaked

2 Eggs, separated

1 – 2 Tablespoons Lemon Zest

½ Cup Fresh Lemon Juice

1 Cup Milk

1 Cup Sugar

¼ Cup Flour

¼ Teaspoon Salt

Whipped Cream (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare pie crust in pie plate. Separate egg whites and beat until stiff peaks form. In another bowl, beat egg yolks. Add lemon zest, lemon juice, and milk to yolks and beat together. Add sugar, flour, and salt. Beat until smooth. Fold in egg whites. Pour into the prepared crust. Bake 45-50 minutes. Serve warm or cooled. Top with whipped cream. (Canned whipped topping serves as a solid understudy, but pales beside the lightly sweetened softness of heavy cream whipped to castle peaks.)

Coconut Sour Cream Cake

INGREDIENTS

1 Yellow or Vanilla Cake Mix

1 16 oz. Sour Cream

2 Cups Sugar

4 Cups Shredded or Flaked Coconut

1½ Cups Cool Whip or Whipped Heavy Cream

Fresh Berries or Easter Candy (optional for garnish)

INSTRUCTIONS

Prepare cake mix as instructed on package, using two 9-inch round cake pans. Bake and cool layers. Slice each layer horizontally in half, using a long serrated knife.

Combine sour cream, sugar, and coconut in a bowl. Chill for one hour or more (while cake is baking). Reserve one cup of sour cream mixture in a small bowl. Spread remaining mixture between cooled, sliced cake layers. It acts as a delicious ‘glue’ to repair any miscut layers.

Fold whipped cream into reserved sour cream mixture. Spread on top and sides of cake. Cover and chill. Sprinkle lightly with extra coconut, if desired. Garnish with fresh strawberries or blueberries, or even jelly bellies for color.

(We use this delightful cake for Easter brunch. Add a couple of tall narrow candles and sing a rousing rendition of “Up From the Grave He Arose” before slicing and serving.)

Lemon Velvet Cake

INGREDIENTS

Cake:

1 Lemon Cake Mix

1 Cup Water

½ Teaspoon Lemon Extract or Fresh Lemon Juice

1 Small Lemon Jello Mix

¾ Cup Canola Oil

3 Eggs

Topping:

2 Cups Powdered Sugar

½ Cup Fresh Lemon Juice

Zest of One Lemon

INSTRUCTIONS

Beat together cake mix, water, lemon extract, jello, eggs, and oil for three minutes. Spread batter into greased 9×13 baking dish. Follow cake mix baking instructions.

Prepare the topping while cake is baking. Mix together powdered sugar, lemon juice, and zest until smooth.

When cake is finished baking, remove from the oven and prick with a fork all over the surface. Pour the topping mixture immediately onto the cake while still warm. Allow to cool.

Before serving, sprinkle liberally with powdered sugar. Add lemon zest curls if you’re feeling fancy.

Lightened Italian Cream Cake

INGREDIENTS

½ Cup Butter, softened

1½ Cups Sugar

½ Cup Applesauce

3 Egg Yolks

1 Teaspoon Vanilla

2 Cups Flour

1 Teaspoon Baking Soda

½ Teaspoon Salt

1 Cup Buttermilk (or add 1 teaspoon vinegar to milk and let sit 10 minutes)

5 Egg Whites

½ Cup Flaked Coconut

½ Cup Pecans, chopped (almonds or walnuts may be substituted)

Frosting:

One 8 oz. Package Cream Cheese, reduced-fat

2 Tablespoons Butter, softened

1 Teaspoon Vanilla

2 ½ Cups Powdered Sugar

¼ Cup Pecans, chopped and toasted (almonds or walnuts may be substituted)

INSTRUCTIONS

Beat butter and sugar until smooth. Stir in applesauce. Add egg yolks and vanilla and beat for one minute. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt and add to butter alternately with buttermilk (or sour milk).

In another bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold into batter. Fold in coconut and pecans. Scoop into a greased 9×13 cake pan.

For frosting, in a small bowl, combine the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla. Gradually beat in powdered sugar. When smooth, spread over cooled cake and sprinkle with nuts.

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