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A slice of sunshine – the citrus sunbeam layer cake

May 10, 2013

On rainy days, where it’s a little too dark and gloomy for us to stay home, I try to make life brighter by baking cheery, happy things.

I came across this recipe from one of my favourite magazines, Cake Heaven, and modified it as a four-layer instead of a six-layer cake. I don’t have too much space in the refrigerator for such a tall cake!

Citrus sunbeam_Cake Heaven

Citrus Sunbeam Layer Cake (Recipe makes 1 with 4 layers)


    • 400g unsalted butter, softened
    • 400g caster sugar
    • 6 large eggs
    • 499g self-raising flour, sifted
    • grated zest of 1 lemon and 1 orange
    • yellow and orange gel paste food colouring
    • 2 tbsp. of milk (optional)
    • 1 tsp of lemon essence and 1 tsp of orange essence (optional)

For the frosting:

    • 125g unsalted butter, softened
    • 250g cream cheese, straight from the fridge
    • 500g icing sugar, sifted

You will also need: round 9″ baking tins (4 if you have!), baking paper and 2 small bowls


1) Preheat the oven to 190ºC. Grease and line 4 round tins. Beat the butter and sugar in a bowl with wooden spoon or an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Beat the eggs in a jug and gently add them to the creamed mixture, beating all the time and adding some flour to prevent curdling. Fold in remaining flour.

2) Divide the mixture in half. Add the lemon zest and a teaspoon of yellow gel paste to one half (with lemon essence too, if you prefer); add the orange zest, a teaspoon of orange gel paste (with orange essence if you prefer) to the other half. I added a tbsp of milk to each bowl for equivalent consistency.

3) Divide the mixture between the tins, spreading it evenly. Bake the layers individually or in batches. I made four layers with this recipe. I guess if you have smaller tins, you could make 6.

4) Bake in the oven for 10 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Be careful not to overbake or the cake will be dry. Leave to cool in tin for a few minutes, then turn out onto baking paper set on wire rack to cool completely.

5) While the cake layers are cooling, make the frosting. (The original recipe called for syrup made with lemon juice, Limoncello and sugar but I skipped that.) Beat the butter with with an electric whisk, then add cream cheese and beat until smooth. Gradually sift the icing sugar and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy. Place in the fridge for a few minutes to firm up if it’s a little runny or add more sifted icing sugar if it’s too runny.

6) Assemble the cake by placing an orange cake layer on a cake stand and cover it with a thin layer of frosting. Repeat with the remaining layers, alternating the yellow and the orange sponge.

Citrus sunbeam_Frosting the cake

7) Cover the top and side with remaining frosting. Decorate with a little zest if desired.

8) Slice and enjoy.

Citrus sunbeam_a slice of sunshine

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