Apr 12 2011

When life gives you lemons…

Published by at 3:24 pm under Dessert

serving cake

Make lemon cream cake!

I’ve loved this cake since my mom introduced me to it at a girls’ lunch we had at Olive Garden a year or two ago. She downright adores the cake, and we often share a piece when we lunch there. Since we don’t often get to go out to lunch together (we don’t live in the same city), it seemed time to figure out a way to recreate this cake. First, I dug out my go-to recipe for lemon curd from Sherry Yard.


Then I scoured the Internet for the right cake recipe, finally selecting Dorie Greenspan’s party cake. The rest was nothing other than an experiment, trying to piece together the cake based on my memory of taste and texture. All in all, I was pleased with my results, though I would double the amount of crumble topping next time for a bit more coverage on the sides of the cake. (And because, well, I’m not ashamed to admit the crumble topping is one of my favorite parts of the dessert. I’m still kicking myself for not just doubling the amount the first time around.)

lemon cream cake

But really, with this cake, the lemon cream is the star. I adore lemon desserts, as evidenced by the many lemon recipes I’ve posted here previously. Unfortunately, I can only handle straight lemon curd in small doses, but when tempered with cream cheese and whipped cream – WOW. It has just the right amount of creaminess, the taste is spot-on, and I could enjoy it on its own for dessert.

slice of cake


Print Recipe

Lemon Curd
adapted from Sherry Yard’s Secrets of Baking

2 tablespoons lemon zest
1 cup sugar
1 cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons lime juice
3 whole eggs (large), at room temp
4 egg yolks (large), at room temp (reserve whites for cake)
4 tablespoons cold butter, diced

1. Fill a medium saucepan 3/4 of the way full with cold water and heat over medium heat. Make an ice bath (ice and cold water) with a medium-sized bowl, set aside.

2. Zest the lemons and combine the zest and sugar in the food processor and blitz for about a minute to make lemon sugar.

3. Juice the lemons and limes, set aside.

4. In a large heatproof glass bowl, combine the lemon sugar, eggs, and egg yolks, and whisk for about 30 seconds. Place bowl over simmering water until sugar melts (rub a little egg mixture between your thumb and finger – the sugar has dissolved when it no longer feels gritty). Pour in lemon/lime juice. Whisk until curd is the consistency of sour cream and reaches 160 F. Remove from heat and start whisking in the butter, one piece at a time, until incorporated. Pour the curd through a sieve to remove any zest or lumps. Place bowl in ice bath and place sheet of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the curd to cool quickly and prevent a skin from forming on the curd.

The curd can be refrigerated up to a week ahead of time.

adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours via Ezra Pound Cake

2 cups + 1 ½ teaspoons all purpose flour
¼ cup + 1 ½ teaspoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon aluminum-free baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 ¼ cups buttermilk
4 large egg whites (reserve yolks for lemon curd)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature

Sift flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt in medium bowl.

Whisk egg whites, buttermilk, and vanilla in large measuring cup.

With a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, mix sugar and lemon zest on low to release the zest’s oils. Add butter and cream on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 4-5 minutes.

Reduce speed to low. Add flour and milk in 3 batches, beginning and ending with the flour. Increase speed to medium high for a minute to incorporate more air.

Divide batter between two 9-inch round baking pans lined with parchment. Bake 30-35 minutes at 350*F or until an inserted cake tester comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes, then remove from pans, remove parchment, and cool completely on wire racks (right-side up).

Lemon Syrup

1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup water
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Bring sugar and water to a boil, stirring until sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice. Cool.


1 batch lemon curd
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
¼ cup sugar
1 cup whipping cream

Beat cream cheese and sugar until well blended. Mix in lemon curd on low speed.

Whip cream to stiff peaks. Fold cream into lemon mixture by hand.

Vanilla Crumb Topping

1/2 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/3 cup cold butter, cut into 20 pieces
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a medium bowl, mix flour, sugar, butter, and vanilla with fingers until clumps form. Separate clumps into small crumbs.

To assemble

Place first layer, bottom-side up, on cake platter. Brush with simple syrup. Spoon on all but ½ cup lemon filling, then top with second cake layer, dome side up. Brush with simple syrup. Spread thin layer of lemon filling on top and sides of cake. Press crumb topping into frosting to adhere. Refrigerate.

Dust with confectioners’ sugar before cutting and serving.

13 responses so far

13 Responses to “When life gives you lemons…”

  1. Michelleon 13 Apr 2011 at 5:41 pm

    Looks amazing. Perfect dessert for Spring.

  2. Colleenon 14 Apr 2011 at 9:19 am

    I’ve got a book of restaurant copycat recipes that has this cake in it, and it’s spot on, except for some reason the crumb topping wasn’t included in the recipe! So thank you soooo much for posting this – you’re right, the crumb topping is absolutely necessary and the next time I make the cake I’ll be popping back here to find out how to make it :)

  3. Sandraon 23 Apr 2011 at 6:54 am

    I can’t wait to make this and I know I’m going to eat too much.

  4. Athenaon 24 Apr 2011 at 12:48 pm

    Making this for Easter! My mom is so excited to get Olive Garden cake for the holiday.

  5. Saraon 24 Apr 2011 at 7:44 pm

    Colleen – how funny that it’s close to the copycat recipe!

    Sandra – you might not be able to eat as much as you think – could be a pleasant surprise 😉

    Athena – enjoy! I hope you like it as much as I did.

  6. louiseon 29 Jan 2012 at 6:54 am

    This cake looks fab – can you tell me whether the crumb topping is cooked before coating the cake with it? Thanks Louise…

  7. Gabyon 24 Mar 2012 at 12:00 am

    Is it granulated or powdered sugar in the filling?

  8. Recipe Round-Up: Lemonon 17 Sep 2012 at 7:49 pm

    […] Lemon Cream Cake from My Madison Bistro […]

  9. kathyon 25 Mar 2014 at 5:27 pm

    i made this cake. For whatever reason the filling got super runny and ran down sides and off top. Didnt work at all. Very dissapointing results. I followed everything meticulously.

  10. Chelseaon 23 Jun 2014 at 2:24 pm


    I got the same result. I also followed the recipe meticulously. It turned out very runny and I though I was going to cry as I made this for my husbands birthday (it’s his favorite from Olive Garden). I decided I didn’t spend all that time and money for nothing. So, I scraped up all that fell on my counter and put it back in the bowl. I ended up putting around a cup of flour in so it was the right consistency. The crumb part also was difficult as the butter stuck to my fingers. In the end it turned out alright, but I will not be using this recipe again. Very disappointing as I spend a week looking over the recipe.

  11. 14 inch cake standon 21 Jul 2014 at 3:23 pm

    Have you ever thought about publishing an e-book or
    guest authoring on other blogs? I have a blog based upon on the same information you discuss and would
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  12. Juliaon 02 May 2016 at 7:35 am

    Made this for my sisters birthday tonight and I’m sad to say it failed for me as well. The curd was great as are the cake layers but the frosting was a big old mess. Very runny. I’ve been trying to thicken it up all night to little avail. Not a winner sadly.

  13. Vickion 02 Dec 2018 at 8:52 am

    I really wAnt to make this but I’m confused…in the directions it says after adding sugar and zest to add butter and cream…? Cream? No where can I find cream in the cake ingredients or how much..plz help!

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