6 Inch Sunshine Citrus Cake

This 6 inch sunshine citrus cake cures the cold weather blues with bright flavor, a light and springy cake crumb, and creamy whipped frosting. This whipped frosting is lightly sweetened, so it doesn’t overpower the cake’s tangy citrus flavor. Use lemon, orange, and/or lime juice and zest in the cake batter and don’t forget the homemade lemon curd!

This is Sunshine on a Cake Stand

I endlessly tested this cake recipe during a week of freezing rain and ice, taste tested the final version with a few friends as snow fell outside, and photographed the cake on a cold day with 40mph wind slamming against my window. And so we’re calling it sunshine citrus cake because nothing is more fitting as we yearn for warmer, brighter days ahead!

Sunshine Citrus Cake Details

center of a citrus lemon orange lime layer cake
slice of citrus lemon orange lime cake on white plate

Three Elements to Sunshine Citrus Cake & Why This Recipe Works

This recipe combines citrus cake layers, a lemon curd-infused whipped frosting filling, and plain whipped frosting across the exterior.

  1. Lemon Curd: Have you ever ever made lemon curd earlier than? For those who’ve ready lemon bars or lemon meringue pie, you’ve tasted one thing prefer it. Lemon curd is a deliciously tangy, creamy, and candy topping you make on the stovetop you can pair with scones, fast breads, crepes, and a lot extra. Do-it-yourself lemon curd tastes roughly 1,000x higher than store-bought and also you solely want 5 substances to make it. (And all of these substances are additionally wanted within the cake! How handy!) Put together the lemon curd first as a result of it should cool and thicken. Do you wish to use different citrus within the curd? See recipe be aware beneath. The pictured cake has orange zest within the curd.
  2. Citrus Cake Layers: The cake recipe comes from my excellent lemon cupcakes. The batters are practically an identical besides right now we’re utilizing a mixture of citrus and infusing citrus zest into the creamed butter/sugar combination. Most cupcake recipes yielding 12-15 cupcakes make the right quantity of batter for a 3 layer 6 inch cake. One dozen cupcakes often takes about 3-4 cups of cake batter, which divides completely between 3 6 inch cake layers.
  3. Whipped Frosting: Have you ever tried this not-so-sweet whipped frosting but? Now could be your probability. However right now’s model makes use of barely much less heavy cream so the frosting has a bit extra cream cheese taste and it’s a bit sturdier as properly. I wished a sturdier frosting as a result of we’re mixing a few of it with lemon curd, which thins it out.

For Anybody within the Recipe Testing!

I began with my lemon layer cake recipe. That is an older recipe revealed on my web site and over the previous yr, I modified it by utilizing smaller cake pans (for thicker layers), extra leavener (for fluffier, taller desserts), and entire milk as a substitute of buttermilk (much less acidity). You’ll be able to see these adjustments within the recipe now. However as soon as I began substituting some lemon zest/juice for different citrus, the flavour disappeared. I discover that cake is greatest as lemon. Interval.

I continued testing white cake batters with cake flour and egg whites. (Elements I like utilizing in my fluffy white cake.) Outcomes had been disappointing. I do NOT need you to make use of cake flour on this recipe as a result of one way or the other– and I realized this from a number of rounds of testing– cake flour can’t maintain as much as the contemporary juice until you add extra chemical leavener than you assume you want (which might have an effect on the style) or use much less liquid (which produces a thicker batter and denser cake). Utilizing solely egg whites dried out the cake and general, I couldn’t get sufficient citrus taste into such a big cake. I assume I’ve excessive citrus requirements!

Lemon cupcake batter and 6 inch cake pans to the rescue. What a triumph.

Step-by-Step Photographs

Make the lemon curd after which let it cool and thicken fully:

lemon curd in jar

I like this cake flavored with a wide range of citrus. You should have between 3.5 – 4 cups of batter and it is going to be barely thick with some small lumps:

fresh citrus juice in measuring cup and citrus cake batter

Put together your 6 inch cake pans by frivolously greasing them, lining every with parchment paper rounds, after which frivolously greasing the parchment paper. I simply use nonstick spray.

3 6 inch cake pans filled with cake batter

After the desserts bake and funky, put together your whipped frosting with simply 4 substances— cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar, vanilla extract, and heavy cream. You should have about 2.5 cups of frosting. Stir 3 Tablespoons of your lemon curd into slightly below half of your frosting:

whipped frosting mixed with lemon curd

The lemon curd portion of your whipped frosting is the cake’s filling. If in case you have leftover lemon curd frosting, apply it to the outside of the cake. Apply a crumb coat, which is a skinny layer of frosting that “catches” any crumbs, after which refrigerate the cake. Chilling the crammed crumb-coated cake establishes its construction. With out time within the fridge, your crammed and frosted cake will collapse.

frosting a 3 layer cake with a whipped frosting crumb coat

Add the remaining frosting in your chilled crumb-coated cake and when you’ve got any leftover, be at liberty to pipe some on prime. You’ll be able to even tint the frosting yellow, inexperienced, or orange with gel meals coloring. The cake pictured above doesn’t have these particulars, however you’ll be able to see the piping right here with a Wilton 1M tip:

3 layer lemon orange cake

Useful Instruments for Citrus Cake

These are merchandise I take advantage of and love and the hyperlinks beneath are affiliate hyperlinks. Most (however not all) of those instruments are elective, so you’ll be able to nonetheless make the recipe with out them.

  1. Double Boiler: Cook dinner the lemon curd over oblique warmth utilizing a double boiler on the range. For those who don’t have a double boiler, use the tactic detailed within the recipe notes. I personal a pricy double boiler that I can now not discover on-line, however I’ve additionally used this exact one and it’s nice.
  2. Silicone Whisk: You may get away with out most of the gadgets on this record, however I do strongly advocate a silicone whisk for the curd. Metallic whisks can go away an aftertaste.
  3. 6 Inch Cake Pans: I take advantage of and love these 6 inch round cake pans. For those who should not have 6 inch pans and nonetheless wish to make this recipe, flip the cake into cupcakes. See detailed notes beneath.
  4. Citrus Zester or Grater: portion of taste comes from the citrus zest within the lemon curd and within the cake batter, so this instrument is a necessity. I take advantage of and love this citrus zester. A cheese grater on a high quality grating setting or a microplane work too.
  5. Citrus Juicer: After all you’ll be able to simply squeeze out the juice by hand, however in case you love baking or cooking with citrus or take pleasure in fresh-squeezed juice, a citrus juicer is handy!
  6. Cake Turntable: A cake turntable makes it simple to frost the perimeters of a cake when making use of the crumb coat and ultimate layer of frosting. You’ll be able to watch me use it within the video beneath. The inexperienced one I take advantage of is now not accessible.
  7. Bench Scraper: I prefer to run a bench scraper across the sides of the cake to easy out the frosting. This works for any dimension cake. For those who’ve by no means used one earlier than to brighten a cake, you’ll be able to watch me use it within the video beneath. They’re very useful!
  8. Icing Spatula(s): Use a small icing spatula for spreading the frosting between the layers and on prime of the cake. I additionally use a larger flat icing spatula earlier than utilizing the bench scraper. Icing spatulas are elective, however in case you embellish desserts and cupcakes usually– they’re nice instruments.
  9. Small Cake Stand: I purchased the pictured yellow cake stand from House Items a number of years in the past. Search for a cake stand that’s about 8 inches in diameter so it might match the 6 inch dimension with a bit room to spare.

That was plenty of info to prep you! For those who made it down this far, you’re fully prepared to start this recipe. I hope you like this drop of sunshine.


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This sunshine citrus cake cures the chilly climate blues with brilliant taste, a lightweight and springy cake crumb, and creamy whipped frosting. Make sure you put aside sufficient time to arrange the lemon curd upfront.

Lemon Curd

  • 2 massive egg yolks
  • 1 massive egg
  • 2/3 cup (134ggranulated sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon zest (about 1 lemon)
  • 1/3 cup (80ml) contemporary lemon juice (about 23 lemons)
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 6 Tablespoons (86gunsalted butter, softened to room temperature


  • 1 and 1/2 cups (188gall-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (115gunsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 cup (200ggranulated sugar
  • 1 and 1/2 Tablespoons citrus zest (mixture of lemon, orange, and lime or different, see be aware)
  • 2 massive eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) entire milk, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup (80ml) freshly squeezed citrus juice (mixture of lemon, orange, and lime or different, see be aware)

Whipped Frosting

  • 6 ounces (170g) block full-fat cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 3/4 cup (90g) confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (240ml) chilly heavy cream or heavy whipping cream (very chilly!)
  • elective: sliced citrus fruits or citrus twists to garnish

  1. Make the lemon curd: Fill the underside pot of your double boiler with 1-2 inches of water. (Or use the DIY double boiler methodology listed within the notes.) Place on excessive warmth. As soon as the water begins to boil, cut back to low warmth to maintain the water at a simmer. Place egg yolks, egg, granulated sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and salt into the highest pot of your double boiler. Utilizing a silicone whisk (keep away from steel as a result of it leaves an aftertaste), whisk till fully blended after which proceed to whisk because the curd cooks. Whisk and prepare dinner till the combination turns into thick and is the consistency of hollandaise sauce or a very thick soup, about 10 minutes or when an prompt learn thermometer reaches 160°F (71°C). If curd isn’t thickening, flip up the warmth and continuously whisk. Take away pan from warmth. Lower the butter into 6 separate items after which whisk into the curd till butter has melted and mixed. Pour curd right into a jar or bowl and place a bit of plastic wrap straight on prime so it’s touching the highest of the curd. This prevents a pores and skin from forming on prime. The curd will proceed to thicken because it cools. Place in fridge to hurry up cooling. As soon as cool, the plastic wrap could be eliminated. Refrigerate the curd for as much as about 10 days or for longer storage, you’ll be able to freeze the cooled curd for as much as 3-6 months. Thaw within the fridge in a single day earlier than having fun with. Makes 1 heaping cup.
  2. Make the cake: Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Grease three 6×2 inch cake pans, line with parchment paper, then grease the parchment paper. Parchment paper helps the small desserts seamlessly launch from the pans.
  3. Utilizing a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, beat the butter and sugar collectively on medium-high pace till mixed, about 1 minute. Scrape down the perimeters and up the underside of the bowl with a rubber spatula after which add the citrus zest. Beat on medium-high pace till mixed and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs and vanilla extract. Beat on medium-high pace till mixed. Scrape down the perimeters and up the underside of the bowl and beat once more as wanted to mix. Add half of the flour combination (simply eyeball it), half of the milk, and half of the citrus juice. Beat on low pace till principally mixed, after which add the remaining flour combination, milk, and citrus juice. Beat on low pace till mixed. Don’t over-mix. It’s possible you’ll must whisk all of it by hand to ensure there aren’t any massive lumps on the backside of the bowl. The batter will probably be barely thick with some small lumps. You should have between 3.5 – 4 cups of batter.
  4. Divide and pour batter evenly into cake pans. If batter seems to have bubbles, give the pans a lightweight faucet on the counter to pop them. Bake desserts for 18-21 minutes or till baked by way of. To check for doneness, insert a toothpick into the middle of the cake. If it comes out clear, it’s achieved.
  5. Enable desserts to chill fully within the pans set on a wire rack for half-hour. Take away desserts from the pans and set them on a wire rack to chill fully. The desserts have to be fully cool earlier than frosting and assembling.
  6. Make the whipped frosting: In a big bowl utilizing a hand-held mixer or stand mixer fitted with a whisk or paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese on medium-high pace till creamy, about 1 minute. Scrape down the perimeters and up the underside of the bowl and beat once more as wanted till creamy. Add the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla extract, after which beat on medium pace till mixed and fully easy (completely no lumps), not less than 2 full minutes. Scrape down the perimeters and up the underside of the bowl and beat once more as wanted to easy out. Change to a whisk attachment (in case you haven’t already been utilizing it). Flip the mixer to low pace and with the mixer operating, rigorously pour within the cream in a gradual and regular stream. After the entire cream has been added, flip the mixer as much as excessive pace and whip till thick and stiff peaks kind, about 1-2 minutes. Don’t stroll away throughout this time and don’t be concerned in case your frosting takes longer to whip. You’re on the lookout for a thick, ethereal consistency with stiff peaks. In case your frosting seems chunky or curdled, it’s over-whipped. To repair, stir 1 Tablespoon of heavy cream into the frosting by hand to easy out once more. You should have about 2.5 cups of frosting.
  7. Make lemon curd frosting filling: Spoon 1 cup of frosting (about 240ml– virtually half of it) right into a separate bowl. Stir in 3 heaping Tablespoons of cooled lemon curd. This will probably be your filling for the cake. Get pleasure from remaining lemon curd drizzled on the cake slices or as a topping on different baked items.
  8. Assemble & crumb coat the cake: First, be sure you have sufficient room for the cake inside your fridge as a result of it MUST chill on the finish of this step and briefly within the subsequent step as properly. If the cake layers aren’t flat on prime, rigorously and slowly degree them off utilizing a big serrated knife. Discard (or crumble over ice cream!). Place 1 cake layer in your cake stand, cake turntable, or serving plate. Evenly cowl the highest with 1/2 of the lemon curd frosting. High with 2nd cake layer and evenly cowl the highest with remaining lemon curd frosting (when you’ve got extras, simply apply it to the outside of the cake). High with the third cake layer. Unfold a really skinny layer of standard whipped frosting on prime and throughout the perimeters of the cake to create a crumb coat. A bench scraper and small icing spatula are useful for this. Refrigerate uncovered for half-hour.
  9. Add remaining frosting on chilled crumb-coated cake utilizing a small icing spatula or a larger flat icing spatula. Use a bench scraper, if desired, to easy out the perimeters. Refrigerate the adorned cake uncovered for not less than half-hour to assist set the frosting. After that, in case you used a cake turntable, you’ll be able to rigorously switch the cake to a cake stand or serving plate utilizing a pair flat spatulas.
  10. After half-hour within the fridge, the adorned cake is okay to slice and serve or sit out at room temperature for a number of hours. Cowl leftover cake tightly and retailer within the fridge for five days.


  1. Make Forward Directions: To make the lemon curd forward of time or to freeze it, see finish of step 1. The cake layers could be baked, cooled, and lined tightly at room temperature in a single day. Making the frosting forward of time could be tough as a result of it doesn’t sit properly within the bowl additional time. As a substitute, make the frosting and use it instantly on the cake. After you end adorning the cake in step 9, refrigerate for not less than half-hour as instructed. You’ll be able to prolong this time as much as 1 full day. After 2 hours, although, I like to recommend frivolously overlaying the cake. (Notice that overlaying this frosting can get messy and I haven’t discovered a workaround for that.) Let chilly cake sit at room temperature for about 1 hour earlier than serving.
  2. Freezing Directions: Frosted cake or unfrosted cake layers could be frozen as much as 2-3 months. To freeze the frosted cake, refrigerate for not less than 1 hour to set the frosting, after which cowl and freeze for as much as 3 months. Thaw your cake at room temperature.
  3. Eggs & Citrus within the Lemon Curd: I usually put together lemon curd utilizing 4 egg yolks, nevertheless I discover the ultimate consistency thicker when utilizing 2 egg yolks and 1 entire egg– that’s mirrored within the recipe above. You may make the lemon curd as written, however in case you’d like to change citrus flavors, I like to recommend a 1:1 substitution with lime juice and zest. If you wish to make grapefruit or orange curd, I like to recommend solely substituting half of the lemon juice/zest. Be sure to use fresh-squeezed citrus.
  4. DIY Double Boiler for Curd: If you don’t personal a double boiler, you’ll be able to merely place a small heatproof glass bowl over a saucepan of simmering water– you’ll prepare dinner the curd within the prime pot/bowl.
  5. Finest Citrus to Use in Cake: This cake is greatest with simply lemon, simply lime, or a mixture of each or both of these with one other citrus similar to orange, blood orange, or grapefruit. I don’t advocate skipping the lemon or lime as a result of different citrus flavors don’t come by way of very a lot on their very own. I like utilizing an equal mixture of lemon, lime, and orange.
  6. Quantity of Cake Batter & Different Dimension Muffins or Cupcakes: This recipe yields between 3.5 – 4 cups of batter, which is useful in case you want it for various Cake Pan Sizes & Conversions. Due to its gentle but moist texture, this cake is greatest as a layer cake or as cupcakes. I’ve not examined this as a 1 layer 9-inch cake. For a 3 layer 8-inch cake, I like to recommend making this lemon layer cake as a substitute and scaling up the frosting by utilizing one 8-ounce (225g) block cream cheese, 1 cup (120g) confectioners’ sugar, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, and 1 and 1/2 cups (360ml) heavy cream. Hold the lemon curd quantity the identical since this recipe makes a lot. Be at liberty to make use of a mixture of citrus in that cake, however be warned that no taste comes by way of fairly like lemon. I strongly encourage you to maintain that cake as a lemon flavored cake. For 1 dozen cupcakes, fill cupcake liners 2/3 full. Bake at 350°F (177°C) for 18-22 minutes. A toothpick inserted within the center will come out clear once they’re achieved. After cupcakes cool, carve a gap within the middle (this post has a visual for filling cupcakes) and fill with 1 heaping teaspoon lemon curd. High with whipped frosting. Be at liberty to combine some lemon curd into the frosting, too.

The right way to Be part of the March Sally’s Baking Problem

Make the sunshine citrus cake with the curd as a 6 inch cake or as citrus curd-filled cupcakes. You may also swap up the citrus, too! See recipe notes for particulars on variations. For those who aren’t into this recipe, right here is the alternate baking problem recipe:

  1. any previous challenge recipe you haven’t made but OR
  2. Yellow Cake so you’ll be able to nonetheless work on a layer cake… solely with out the citrus taste.

After you make the cake or alternate recipe, email us your recipe photograph. For a bonus entry, go away a evaluate on the recipe beneath.

By emailing your recipe photograph to us, you might be robotically entered within the baking problem. 1 winner receives a $250 Amazon Present Card. The problem is open to the entire world. Problem ends on March thirty first at 5pm japanese. The winner will probably be chosen at random, emailed their prize, and posted within the April Baking Problem weblog put up on April 1st.

Go to the Sally’s Baking Challenge page when you’ve got any questions on Sally’s Baking Problem.

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