Prepare the baking pans:
Grease and flour 2 eight- inch round cake pans (see recipe notes for 9-inch pans). To prevent the cake from sticking, I use Baker’s Joy baking spray (see recipe notes). Spray each pan and line the bottom with 2 circles of parchment paper. Otherwise, prepare the pans with butter or grease and coat each pan.
For the dry ingredients:
Sift together both flours, baking soda. baking powder, salt and sugar in a bowl; set aside.
For the wet ingredients:
Using the whisk attachment, in the bowl of a stand mixer (or hand mixer) beat the vegetable oil, shortening, vanilla and lemon extract (or Lemon emulsion and lemon oil. Beat well at high speed with whisk attachment until light and fluffy.
Add the eggs, one at a time, until combined.
Making the cake batter:
Fold in the lemon zest. With my stand mixer, I simply “pulse” on the lowest setting until combined.
Fold in the dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk.
NOTES: The trick to tender cakes is to alternately add the dry ingredients and wet ingredients. Start by adding the dry ingredients. I use a Kitchen Aid Stand mixer, with a beater blade and using the lowest setting, I quickly turn the power on and off– this mimics folding in the batter and doesn’t overwork the dough. The order I use is to add the dry, pulse to combine; add half the wet, pulse to combine, add the rest of the wet, pulse to combine; finish with the rest of dry. Using a spatula, scrape the bowl and make sure all of the ingredients are combined.
Add half of the batter to each prepared cake pan. Lift each pan a few inches off the kitchen counter and drop (to release any air bubbles).
Bake at 325 degrees F for 30-35 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
NOTES: Please keep in mind that all oven temperatures can vary.
Whenever I bake cakes, I set a timer for 5 minutes less than the minimal baking time listed to avoid accidentally over baking my cakes. Since I used two 8-inch pans, my cakes were ready in exactly 35 minutes.
Allow the cake to cool in the pans for 10 minutes before turning out onto wire racks to cool completely.
For the frosting:
Beat together the softened butter and cream cheese until creamy.
Add the salt, lemon juice and vanilla until combined.
Add the powdered sugar, once cup at a time. Depending on how you plan to use the frosting the desired thickness is important. I wanted to pipe the frosting, so I used all 8 cups for a thicker frosting.
Layering the cake:
The safest way for me to remove cakes from a pan is to set them on top of a wire rack, then set another wire rack on top. Carefully flip the cakes over so that the pans are now on top. If the cake pan has been properly prepared, the cakes will come right out. Peel away the parchment paper.
Set the other wire rack back on top, and flip the cakes over.
To frost the cake:
It takes a some time and practice to make cakes look bakery professional (I’m still working on perfecting that). If you have a rotating cake stand, Set one cake layer on top. I fill a piping bag by “eyeballing” about 2 cups of frosting (I can always return the rest to the frosting bowl) and I use a large round-tip to pipe along the edge creating a dam). Inside that “dam” I add about a cup of lemon curd and spread it with an off-set spatula. If you choose not to use lemon curd, then spread about a cup of frosting as the middle layer.
Frost the top and sides of the cake. A rotating cake table makes this much easier to do. I use a “bench scraper” and spin the cake to create soft even sides. Or, just frost the way that you feel most comfortable doing– there is no right or wrong way!
Chill the cake for at least an hour, for the frosting to set.
Preferred baking tools:
Baker’s Joy Non-Stick spray (my cakes always come out)
Cake bands (to prevent “doming” of cake and allows more even baking
Recommended lemon oil (prefer this over Lemon Extract)