This double lemon cake is full of bright flavors that are perfect for springtime. It has a lemon sponge, lemon curd and Marionberry compote filling, and a salted Swiss meringue buttercream to finish. If you aren’t familiar, Marionberries are similar to blackberries, but with a more rounded flavor (in my opinion) that makes them the best for baking. You can find them frozen, and fresh at farmer’s markets a little closer to summertime. The salted buttercream was actually an accident…but let me tell you. It works really nicely to cut the sweetness, and tie together the flavors of the cake without being overpowering.
Don’t be intimidated by the number of steps in this recipe. While the components may look daunting, they are all relatively simple to make, and require good time management more than anything. I promise you, this cake is worth the effort.
This double lemon cake might look small, but it’s packed with big flavors. The classic combination of lemon and berries meets a subtle salty-sweetness in the buttercream that’s absolutely divine. I find that some buttercreams can be cloyingly sweet. This one is light and perfectly balanced with the other bright and sweet flavors in the rest of the cake.
What are marionberries?
Marionberries are a cultivar of blackberries that is considered the “king of blackberries”. The flavor is a bit more complex than your standard grocery store blackberry, with notes of blueberry as well. You can often find them frozen at any time of the year, or at farmer’s markets in the beginning of summer. If you can’t find any near you, fear not! Blackberries will work beautifully in this recipe instead.
Making the compote is easy: everything goes into one pot and cooks for about 5 minutes. The cornstarch helps to thicken the compote to make it a more stable filling.
How to make the best Meyer lemon curd
I love making lemon curd. I think it’s an incredibly easy way to make something incredibly delicious. If you can’t find Meyer lemons where you live, you can of course make the curd with regular lemons. However, you may need to use a few more to get the required amount of juice. Meyer lemons have a slightly sweeter flavor, thinner, deeper colored rind, and very juicy fruit compared to regular lemons. If you can find them, please use them! I promise you’ll be hooked. They’re the best for baking and cooking alike!
Many lemon curd recipes call for the use of a double boiler, or tempering the eggs. I personally do not find either necessary. Lemon curd is very easy to make: everything goes into the pot at once, and it only takes about 10 minutes in total. Make sure you whisk your eggs well before you add them to the pot. To ensure even cooking, continue whisking the entire time the curd is over heat. To guarantee an extra silky smooth lemon curd, simply pass it through a mesh strainer before using.
In this double lemon cake, I added a smidge of cornstarch to the curd to help it thicken. This will help keep the layers nice and stable.
Tips for making this cake
Like I said before, time management is really the biggest factor in this cake. I like to get my filling components going while the cake layers are baking, and then to make the swiss meringue buttercream when the cake layers and fillings are already cool. You can also make all the components 1-2 days ahead of time. Simply refrigerate until you’re ready to assemble the cake.
I adjusted my usual lemon curd recipe to require egg yolks only, so that the whites could be used in the swiss meringue buttercream. I find it very annoying when I have a recipe that requires a lot of egg whites or yolks, with no use for the other part. So it’s very convenient that this recipe is no-waste in that regard.
When assembling this lemon cake, make sure everything is room temperature or cold (except the buttercream), and use dowels or long skewers as needed to steady the cake. For each layer with filling, create a thick buttercream dam around the edge so nothing leaks out. Just take your time, and it will come out beautifully!
Tips for making the Swiss meringue buttercream
Swiss meringue buttercream is one of my favorites because it’s not too sweet, and it’s quite stable. It can be a little finicky to make though, but is quite easy once you know the tricks!
Firstly, this buttercream is safe to eat without baking (despite the eggs) because we cook the eggs to 160°F before whipping it into a meringue. It’s very important that the meringue is cool (70°F or cooler) before adding the butter, or the buttercream will go soupy. If this happens, don’t fret! Simply refrigerate the whole bowl for 10 minutes before bringing it back to the mixer. Even though swiss meringue buttercream can be a little temperamental to make, it’s also very easy to fix if things go awry.
If the buttercream gets too stiff, heat it over a double boiler (2 inches of water simmering in a saucepan) for a minute or two before returning to the mixer.
Feel free to color the buttercream however you like (or not). If you want to make an ombre effect, separate the buttercream into three bowls and dye with one dark, one medium, and one light shade as desired.
Tools you’ll need
I recommend using a stand mixer or hand blender for this recipe. For the meringue, it is very helpful to have an instant read or candy thermometer.
I love making small but mighty cakes, so I wrote this recipe to make three 6″ layers. You can bake this cake in three 8″ pans, but the layers will be thinner. To frost this cake, I suggest using an offset spatula and an icing smoother.
How to store this cake
This double lemon cake stores well covered, in the fridge for up to 3 days. Allow to come to room temperature before enjoying.
I hope you give this Double Lemon Cake with Marionberry Compote a try! Be sure to tag me on instagram so I can see your bakes, and leave me a comment below! Your feedback helps other bakers who are giving this recipe a try, and I love hearing about your bakes!