Friday, June 22, 2012

Six Layers of Lemony Cake

photo by Anthony Palatta

Two years ago for my birthday, my husband Anthony took me to a steakhouse called Del Frisco's, where they serve a sweet, tart, and lemony "Doberge Cake." (It's not on the menu, but if you ask, they seem to always have it.)

Since then, I've looked online for a recipe, and while I haven't found an exact match, this recipe from Better Homes and Gardens, is pretty damned good on its own, so much so, that I made it for my birthday this year.

A quick word on Doberge cake, which is actually a version of a Hungarian torte known as "Dobos" cake, named after the Hungarian pastry chef who invented it. Consisting of any number of thin layers of spongy cake alternating with frosting, the cake made its way to New Orleans, where it became "Doberge" and was served in caramel, chocolate, and yes, lemon flavors.
Dobos Cake

The trick of this multi-component cake is to take it in stages. First, make the lemon curd filling, which can be done a day or two in advance. Next, for the cakes, you'll need three 8-inch cake pans. (I like light silver pans rather than darker ones, which for me result in lighter colored cakes with a minimum of caramelized edges.) When you make the batter, you pour half of it into the three pans, divided evenly, and then bake. Once the cakes are cool, wash out the pans and use them again for the rest of the batter.

Now for the assembly. Alternate layers of cake and lemon curd until you get to the sixth layer. Then cover the whole thing in a lemony cream cheese frosting. The cake I had at Del Frisco's had a more traditional lemony fondant shell, but that was a bit more trouble than I wanted to go to.
Del Frisco's Lemon Doberge Cake, with Fondant Icing

Though some of the layers baked softer than others, the lemon curd moistens each cloud-like layer, which melts into the filling and frosting to make a sugary pudding in your mouth.

I wonder what a chocolate version would be like...

Lemon Doberge Cake
(adapted from Better Homes and Gardens)


Lemon Filling (see below)
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1/4 cup shortening
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla
3 egg yolks
3/4 cup milk
3 stiff-beaten egg whites
Lemon Icing (see below)
Shredded lemon peel (optional)


1. Prepare and cool the Lemon Filling. Grease and lightly flour three 8x1-1/2-inch round baking pans. Set aside. In a medium mixing bowl combine flour, baking powder, and salt.

2. In a large mixer bowl beat butter or margarine and shortening with an electric mixer on medium speed for 30 seconds. Gradually add sugar and vanilla, beating until light and fluffy. Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating 1 minute after each.

3. Add dry ingredients and milk alternately to beaten mixture, beating after each addition until blended. Gently fold in egg whites by hand.

4. To make the 6 cake layers, transfer a generous 3/4 cup of batter into each prepared pan, spreading evenly over the bottom of pan. Bake in a 375 degree F oven for 10 to 12 minutes or until cakes test done. Cool 5 minutes in pans. Remove from pans and cool on wire racks.

5. Wash, grease, and flour pans. Spoon the remaining batter into the 3 pans. Bake and cool as directed above.

6. To assemble, place 1 cake layer on serving plate. Spread a scant 1/2 cup Lemon Filling evenly atop. Repeat with 4 more layers and filling. Top with final layer. Cover and chill thoroughly. Spread Lemon Icing over top and sides of cake. Cover and store in the refrigerator. Before serving, sprinkle top with shredded lemon peel, if desired. Makes 16 servings.

Lemon Filling


1 1/4 cups sugar
3 tbsp cornstarch
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
dash of salt
1 1/2 cups cold water
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
1/2 tsp finely shredded lemon peel
1/3 cup lemon juice
3 beaten egg yolks


In a saucepan combine 1-1/4 cups sugar, 3 tablespoons cornstarch, 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour, and dash salt. Stir in 1-1/2 cups cold water. Cook and stir 2 minutes more. Stir in 2 tablespoons butter or margarine and 1/2 teaspoon finely shredded lemon peel. Gradually stir in 1/3 cup lemon juice. Mix well. Cover surface with clear plastic wrap. Cool the mixture to room temperature without stirring. Stir about 1 cup of the hot mixture into 3 beaten egg yolks. Return mixture to saucepan. Bring mixture to a gentle boil. Cook and stir 2 minutes more. Remove from heat.

Lemon Icing


8 ounces cream cheese, softened
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 tsp finely shredded lemon peel
1/4 tsp vanilla


In a mixer bowl beat cream cheese and powdered sugar until fluffy. Add finely shredded lemon peel and vanilla and beat until smooth.


  1. Never mind making it where can it be purchased?

  2. Baum's Bakery in Baton Rouge, Louisiana or Gambino's in Baton Rouge and New Orleans, Louisiana. I personally think Baum's lemon doberge cake is better...but only because I'm from Baton Rouge!