Seasonal Potluck: Lemonade Layer Cake


Several years ago, I saw this cake on the cover of Cooking Light magazine. I didn’t know it was lemon flavored at the time, all I knew was it was the most delicious looking cake I had ever seen. I bought the issue from the newsstand, for the sole purpose of making this cake. In retrospect, it was this cake that sparked my interest in food styling.

I have always loved cooking because of the art in it. I start with nothing, I work at it for a while, then I have a finished product. What I love about food styling is that I am manipulating people’s emotions with the food as well. Just like with other types of art, food styling is meant to elicit some sort of response. When styling food, you have to think about who is your customer. How would they react to this cake if it was cut a certain way, or served on a certain plate? Essentially, you are telling a story, and trying to get your customer to understand your point of view. I have always been fascinated with art theory. Why am I looking at this painting? Why is this message best conveyed in oil paint as opposed to a photograph or text? I feel like food styling is a way to incorporate some of these ideas into my life, and career. Sure I get to make money, and don’t always have a say in the matter, but the best part is being able to do work that is interesting to me personally.


Lemonade Layer Cake recipe from Cooking Light 

  • Cake:
  • 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 6 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
  • 3 tablespoons thawed lemonade concentrate
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs 
  • 2 large egg whites 
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour 
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt 
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/4 cups fat-free buttermilk 
  • Cooking spray 
  • Frosting:
  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened 
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon rind 
  • 2 teaspoons thawed lemonade concentrate
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 8 ounces 1/3-less-fat cream cheese 
  • 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. To prepare cake, place first 5 ingredients in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended (about 5 minutes). Add eggs and egg whites, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda; stir well with a whisk. Add flour mixture and buttermilk alternately to sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture; beat well after each addition.
  3. Pour batter into 2 (9-inch) round cake pans coated with cooking spray; sharply tap pans once on counter to remove air bubbles. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 minutes on a wire rack; remove from pans. Cool completely on wire rack.
  4. To prepare frosting, place 2 tablespoons butter and the next 4 ingredients (2 tablespoons butter through cream cheese) in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at high speed until fluffy. Add powdered sugar, and beat at low speed just until blended (do not overbeat). Chill 1 hour.
  5. Place 1 cake layer on a plate; spread with 1/2 cup frosting. Top with remaining cake layer. Spread remaining frosting over top and sides of cake. Store cake loosely covered in the refrigerator.


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