Lemon Blackberry Custard Layer Cake… blame the Great British Baking Show


So in the midst of a blizzard my daughter and I started watching season 2 of the Great British Baking Show… it’s the purest form of guilty pleasure TV. It’s reality TV but with a very mannered bristish sweetness that I can’t get enough of, and it always makes me want to bake, always. The last episode I watched was “pies” and the custard pies made me hungry and wanting for custard (my daughter attempted this meringue situation after the an episode). This morning at the market I saw organic blackberries that didn’t require a second mortgage and so I figured I could get out my custard jones with some combo of blackberry and lemon… So this cake was born. It seems like a lot of steps, and it is but I rocked it out in one podcast of This American Life and half a WTF… so under 2 hours from start to all the dishes done and cake in the fridge (and lots of bowl licking).

The Lemon Cake (recipe from Flour Bakery)

  • 6 tbls butter at room temp
  • 6 tbls canola oil
  • 1 cup plus 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • zest of one lemon
  • 3 cups cake flour
  • 1 tbls baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup milk at room temp
  • 6 egg whites (save your yolks)
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. In a mixer beat together until fluffy, butter, 1 cup of sugar and canola oil.
  3. Add vanilla and zest.
  4. In a mixing bowl combine flour, baking powder and salt.
  5. Add 1/2 flour mixture until combined.
  6. Add half milk, followed by remaining flour and milk.
  7. Set aside.
  8. Beat egg whites until slightly stiff, add 1/3 cup sugar and beat until really stiff.
  9. Fold 1/2 of egg whites into batter to lighten.
  10. Fold in remaining egg whites until combined.
  11. Spread batter between 3 buttered and floured pans.
  12. Cook 25 minutes. 

    While that’s cooking get to the other stuff:


  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and/or vanilla bean deseeded into milk (I used both because I like the pastry cream to have that vanilla bean look but It’s another step and doesn’t really add a ton more vanilla flavor)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  1. In a medium saucepan bring milk to a simmer over medium heat, add vanilla extract and/or vanilla pod deseeded.
  2. In a bowl whisk together sugar, eggs and cornstarch until smooth.
  3. When milk simmers, pour half of into the egg mixture, whisking until smooth, then add it back into the saucepan with remaining milk mixture.
  4. Keeping the pan on medium heat, continue whisking until mixture comes to a boil and thickens.
  5. Take off heat, push custard through a sieve with a spatula into a bowl to get a smooth texture and cover with plastic wrap to avoid the mixture forming a skin (although I kinda like the skin and never mind peeling it off and eating when no one is looking). Cool until assembly.

It’s probably about time to take your cakes out..cool them on racks

This is where I decide to rock out some Lemon Curd, because that’s pretty good too and more lemon never hurt anyone. It’s basically the same process as the custard.

Lemon Curd:

  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tbls butter
  • 1 tbls cream
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • pinch o salt
  • splash o vanilla
  1. In a saucepan on medium combine lemon juice, butter and cream. Stir until warm.
  2. In a bowl combine eggs, egg yolk, sugar and salt until smooth.
  3. Whisk the warm liquid into the egg mixture and pour back into the saucepan.
  4. Stir a couple minutes until thick add vanilla and then strain through a sieve. Set in fridge to set up.

At this point I’m thinking open side cake but realize that buttercream on the outside might make it hold up better with the custardy filling and I’ve got some eggs left so…

Quick Buttercream:

  • 3 egg whites
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 sticks butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  1. Place 1 inch of water in a saucepan on medium heat, top with a bowl (or use a double boiler if you have one).
  2. Whisk egg whites and sugar in bowl until sugar dissolves (rub mixture between your fingers, when it’s not gritty you’re good.
  3. In a mixer with the whisk attachment whisk egg whites until stiff and cool.
  4. Add vanilla and room temp butter in slices until combined.
  5. This will look like bad oatmeal for a bit but eventually whip itself into lovely silky buttercream.

See now you have a million things done, it looks like a war zone in your kitchen, you wonder why you started this process when you could be on the couch playing on your phone but you’ve come this far… soldier through.


Cut rind off cakes (I also cut off the bottom crusties too but whatever you have the patience for at this point)

  1. Place first cake layer.
  2. Top with custard.
  3. Place second layer.
  4. Spread lemon curd.
  5. Add halved blackberries.
  6. Place third layer (realize you meant to do another custard layer back there at the second layer and instead you used lemon curd, set aside custard and eat the rest of it through out the day and pretend you didn’t)
  7. Frost the sides with buttercream and pipe around the top to make a damn for the lemon curd.
  8. Spread lemon curd on top and add blackberries.


Now eat, rejoice, Spring is almost here.


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