For me, Easter and baking go hand-in-hand and what better way to celebrate this festive time of year than with a gorgeous, homely made-with-love nesting layer cake! If you’re pressed for time, use store-bought lemon curd instead of making your own.
Recipe and styling by Claire Ferrandi
Assisted by Nomvuselelo Mncube
Photograph by Dylan Swart
Nesting layer cake with cream cheese icing and lemon curd drizzle
Coconut and lemon cake
- 435g cake flour
- 10ml (2 tsp) baking powder
- pinch salt
- 225g cubed butter, at room temperature
- 400g castor sugar
- 4 eggs
- 10ml (2 tsp) vanilla essence
- 250ml (1 cup) coconut milk
- zest of 4 lemons
- juice of 1 lemon
- 60ml (4 tbsp) elderflower cordial (available at yuppiechef.com and speciality delis)
- 60ml (4 tbsp) icing sugar, sifted
Cream cheese icing
- 200g butter, cubed and at room temperature
- 230g tub cream cheese, at room temperature
- 200g icing sugar, sifted
- zest of 3 lemons
- zest and juice of 4 lemons
- 90g butter
- 240g castor sugar
- 3 eggs, whisked
- fine twigs, rinsed, to decorate
- small and large white Easter eggs, to decorate
- white roses, to decorate
For the cake, preheat the oven to 170°C. Grease 2 deep cake tins of 15cm-diameter and line the bases with baking paper. In a medium bowl, sieve together the cake flour, baking powder and salt. In a large separate bowl, cream the 225g butter and 400g castor sugar together with an electric mixer until pale, then add the 4 eggs, 1 at a time, while beating. Add the vanilla essence and beat to combine. Gently fold the creamed butter and egg mixture into the flour mixture until combined, then fold in the coconut milk and zest of the 4 lemons.
Divide the batter between the prepared cake tins, smoothing the tops, and bake in the preheated oven until a metal skewer inserted into the centre of each cake comes out clean, 45 – 55 minutes. While the cakes bake, make the syrup by combining all of the syrup
ingredients in a small pot and heating over medium heat until just before boiling point.
Cool the cakes a little, 10 minutes, before carefully removing from the tins, pricking a few times with a skewer and pouring the hot syrup over the cakes. Allow the cakes to cool completely, before placing them on freezer-proof plates and freezing, at least 2 hours (this will make icing your cakes a breeze).
Make the icing by beating the 200g butter until smooth and fluffy, then add the cream cheese and beat briefly to combine. Add ½ of the icing sugar, beat until smooth, then add the other ½ and zest of 3 lemons, and combine until smooth. Set aside and store at room temperature.
For the lemon curd, heat all of the ingredients, except the eggs, in a medium pot over medium heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat, and cool, 3 minutes, before adding the 3 whisked eggs and returning to a low heat, whisking continuously until thickened, about 10 minutes. Do not allow the mixture to boil. Remove from heat and allow to cool, 45 minutes, before refrigerating until needed.
To assemble your cake, place a blob of icing in the centre of your cake stand to anchor the cake down, then place the base cake on the blob (ice your cakes while still frozen – they’ll be easy to handle and the icing will set immediately). Add a large dollop of icing to the top of the first cake and spread, then add the second cake layer and press down. Ice the top and sides of the cakes lightly, so as to still see the cake sponge, and leave some texture. Pour over about half of the curd, encouraging it to drizzle down the sides of the cake. Allow your cake to defrost by storing it at room temperature, 2 hours. Decorate the top of the layer cake with twigs, Easter eggs and white roses to create a “nest”.