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Citrus Butter Cake

Yield: two 6-inch cake layers
Author: The Little Epicurean



  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • finely grated zest from 1 orange
  • finely grated zest from 1 lemon
  • finely grated zest from 1 lime
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 cup whole milk

Swiss Buttercream:

  • 6 large egg whites, about 1 cup
  • 1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 cups unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons, softened
  • food gel colors in electric green, electric pink, and yellow



  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Butter two-6-inch round cake pans.  Line with parchment paper and set aside.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugar. Add zest of orange, lemon and lime. Continue to mix until incorporated into butter mixture.
  • Add eggs one a time, ensuring that each egg is incorporated before adding the next.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together cake flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, and salt. Add dry mixture to bowl in three additions, alternating with the milk. Start and end with the dry mixture. Mix until just combined.
  • Transfer batter to prepared cake rounds. I prefer to weight the batter and then distribute them equally according to weight. Bake in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes until cakes are set and toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • Let cool in pan for a couple of minutes. Run a knife or an offset spatula along the edges of the cake to loosen from the pan. Invert into a wire rack and let cool to room temperature. Once cakes are cool, divide into layers and build cake.

Swiss Buttercream:

  • The bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together egg whites and sugar.  Place over a double boiler and continue to whisk until the temperature of the mixture is 120 degrees F.  Alternatively, if you don’t have a thermometer, heat the mixture until all the sugar has melted.  You can test this by dipping your pointer finger into the warm mixture and rubbing it together with your thumb.  The mixture should be smooth.  You should not be able to feel the granules of sugar.
  • Return bowl to stand mixer. With a whisk or paddle attachment, beat mixture at medium-high speed until it cools to a little warmer than room temperature. Reduce speed to medium and add butter one tablespoon at a time.
  • Once all the butter is in, increase speed to medium-high and continue to beat until buttercream is light and fluffy. Divide and distribute buttercream into smaller containers. Add gel paste food coloring to get your desired look.


I used pipping tip #104 for the flowers and #233 for the grass.