On to the plate

Experimenting with flavours, colours and style of food served at our place

Let’s have cake, a layered, lemon curd, New Zealand themed cake!


New Zealand Cake

Don’t look closely at the piped icing. I know you’ve noticed the icing almost about to topple off the cake, and let’s not talk about the various ways the stars are facing.

I was using my Wilton turntable. I’ve never used one before and I was feeling a little clumsy moving it around, piping at the same time and not having to move my hand. My brain was having trouble grasping this new concept.

It was only Friday evening that I settled on a cake recipe. I’m not a big fan of chocolate cake, and continuing on with the black/white theme (for Waitangi Day) I wanted a white cake, but not just a plain white cake.

I found a recipe for Dorie Greenspan’s Perfect Party Cake. It’s from her book Baking: From My Home To Yours. The cake recipe is one picked by a blogger and shared on their blog. I was sold on the cake, but not on the way it was decorated. The layers had raspberry filling topped with a buttercream frosting. I’m not much of a fan of berry fruits. The pips really annoy me. Too much effort for the flavour. Having decided on the cake I Google’d the name of the cake to see how other people had used the recipe. I came across this blog post where lemon curd was used instead of the berry filling. I was enthused enough to jump out of my seat a few minutes after 10pm to whip up another batch of Lemon Curd and use that instead of the original raspberry filling.  The frosting I’d already decided on, and I knew how I was going to “decorate” the top, with the New Zealand Map.

When I look at the cake, I’m pretty sure Dorie Greenspan would be horrified. Imagine covering a beautiful layered cake with BLACK icing.

New Zealand Map

Oh well, the damage is done Smile

My New Zealand Cake using Dorie’s Perfect Party Cake Recipe



  • 2 1/4 cups cake flour
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/4 cups whole milk or buttermilk
  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 tsp grated lemon zest
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
  • Filling and frosting
  • 1 batch of lemon curd
  • 1/2 batch of white chocolate buttercream
  • 1 batch of chocolate buttercream


  • Heat the oven to 175 degrees Celsius
  • Spray two 9″ cake pans with cooking spray.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  • Whisk together the milk and eggs in a small bowl.
  • In a large bowl, pour in the sugar and sprinkle in the lemon zest.
  • Rub the lemon zest in the sugar until the sugar becomes moist and fragrant.
  • Add in the butter and beat on medium speed until crumbly.
  • Beat in the extract.
  • Beat in 1/3 of the flour mixture and then half of the egg mixture. Then, add in the rest of the egg mixture and the rest of the flour mixture, beating until well-combined.
  • Divide the batter between the two cake pans and bake 30-35 minutes or until a knife inserted into the centres of the cakes comes out clean.
  • Let cool for about 5 minutes before inverting to remove from the pans.
  • When the cakes have cooled, slice each cake through the middle to create two layers.

My Notes:

  • I don’t have Cake flour. For each cup of flour put 3 Tbs of cornflour into the measuring cup and then fill with flour to make a cup. For the 1/4 cup I added 1 Tbs of cornflour.
  • Sift the cornflour and flour mix 5 times.
  • My egg whites were from whites I froze pre-Christmas. I find frozen egg whites no different to fresh egg whites.
  • I used an offset spatula to smooth the tops of the cakes, and make a small hollow expecting the cakes to bake from the middle, threatening to dome.
  • My oven isn’t wide enough to take both cake tins on one oven tray. I had the oven on fan forced with a tray in the bottom and top 1/3 of the oven.
  • My cakes were cooked in 23 minutes. Yes, 23 minutes of 30-35 minutes. So watch carefully. As you can see in the following photos the cakes came away from the side of the tins, a great indicator of “doneness”.
  • The white chocolate buttercream had also been frozen. I’d made a Devil’s Food Cake for Christmas Day and frosted it with the frosting. The 6” cake only required half of the frosting.
  • I put the white chocolate buttercream in the fridge the night before, then when I was ready to use it, put it in the mixer and let it whip up again for a minute or so.
  • I tried to use my Wilton cake slicer to make the layers, again it refused to cut. I had read about using dental floss but it wouldn’t cut through either. Using the indentation the floss had left I make a small cut all the way around and then used the floss and it worked perfectly to slice through the cakes. Just wrap the floss around the middle of the cake and cross over the ends and pull. The floss will end up meeting the opposite side in the middle of the cake. Brilliant.
  • I had read spreading frosting over the (lemon curd) filling proved difficult. I concur. Being a quick study (cough) I spread frosting on the bottom of the next cake layer and then placed that next layer on top of the lemon curd so the frosting sat on the curd.
  • Even with the piped edge (forming a “trench”) the white chocolate frosting and curd wanted to seep out a little. This made crumb coating a little fiddly as on occasion I got a little of the white chocolate frosting mixed with the black, but knowing it was a crumb coat I didn’t panic.
  • The top layer of the cake sort of moved about as I swept the frosting over it. That was a little annoying and I had to keep manipulating it back into place with the offset spatula.
  • I used 4 strips of waxed paper over the top of the doily (which was over the top of a 10” cake board) to protect the doily from the frosting. When I was done frosting the side I slowly slid the waxed strips out from under the cake and then proceeded to pipe frosting around the base of the cake.
  • Having the cake on a cake board made it very easy to maneuverer the cake into the fridge and back onto the cake stand. And then transfer the cake from one cake stand to another (for transporting).

And now for a barrage of photos:

Making 9inch layer cakes

I was so thankful the cakes didn’t dome so that I didn’t have to trim them.


Assembling a 4 layer cake

You can see in the photo bottom left the difficulty I had trying to frost on top of the lemon curd. The next photo of the set shows the frosting on the bottom of the next layer. That next layer being flipped so the frosting sat on the curd.

And ready to crumb coat:

Ready to crumb coat

I used the offset spatula and scrape off the excess white chocolate frosting before crumb coating with black frosting.

And we have a New Zealand cake!

Kiwi As Bro

Thanks to Natalie an Caitlin who stayed and talked through various options and scenarios when I came across a small blip in the road assembling and icing of the cake. And to Logan who kept Mr Fussy company out in the garden (yes, he was in the garden!!)

I used a strip of waxed paper to “practice” piping the icing. When Logan came inside he was happy to scrape it clean. Of course he had a black mouth and tongue which was hard to miss.

Inside the cake

The lemon curd makes the cake seem as if it was quite yellow but it wasn’t (lack of camera skills are really to blame). You can see how the bottom layer, the one that confirmed smoothing frosting over curd was complete madness, looks a bit more oozy than the other layers. And you can see how that top layer is being a little disobedient and not wanting to sit directly on top. Oh the joys of layered cakes.

Eat a slice of cake

Even though the black frosting had cocoa in it (to give the black a head start), it wasn’t detectable with the cake. There was no disguising the chocolate flavour when eating the frosting on it’s own though. The lemon curd was delightful. I love lemon curd though. You will have a little bit left over from the filling. Such a shame Winking smile

Eating a slice of cake

This one slice was shared among four of us.

Or should I say fought over?

Fight for a tastes of cake

I told Caitlin (first of the “hand/arm” photos) that I wouldn’t end up using the photos with arms in it. But I LIED! Obviously.

Actually I’m pretty sure Natalie was trying to keep that top layer from slipping off the cake altogether as Logan took a forkful. She was quite concerned the top layer was messing up the photos.

So there we have it. A lovely cake filled with glorious lemon curd (my favourite) and white chocolate frosting and then covered with black (chocolate) frosting.

The map of New Zealand is a cookie cutter I used on white fondant. It looks pretty good, for such a cheats way of “decorating”.

Natalie insisted that I keep a piece for Mr Fussy and my MIL and then she took off with the rest for her work team.

Mr Fussy said it was really nice. Though I’m not sure he would dare say anything else when I sit there staring at him waiting impatiently for his verdict. My MIL also said it was lovely, and that had I not said the black frosting had cocoa in it, she wouldn’t have been able to tell.

So for those not wanting a chocolate black frosting, it seems that if you use a cake with a strong flavour you’re most likely not going to be able to tell.

New Zealand Layer Cake

UPDATE: The trip to Natalie’s was so hot, and the cake was covered with a Perspex type cover, sort of creating a mini hot house. So the piped frosting curled over the edges and slopped down the sides, and with a wedge cut out of the cake, the top layer was well and truly on the move. It was not looking its best. The cake never made it to Natalie’s work. Instead family had it for dessert, with enough for tonight too.

I don’t mind who the recipients are, so long as it’s enjoyed.


8 thoughts on “Let’s have cake, a layered, lemon curd, New Zealand themed cake!

  1. I really enjoyed my afternoon watching the whole process. Having read several posts and seeing the photo stories, it was great to watch it unfold in person! I can vouch that the cake was delicious and the lemon curd filling was a brilliant option instead of berry filling, I had every intention of taking it to my work but by the time the family, with extras who were staying, had a piece it wasn’t enough to take along to work, hence getting to have it for dessert the next day! We were very happy to be the recipients 🙂 Thank you Anita!!!!

  2. Hi, I’m really impressed with your cake and about to try replicating it, for a farewell cake for a Kiwi heading home from Oz. I am cheating with a chocolate cake with no layers (thankfully I already have the cookie cutter…). I’m intrigued how you got the icing so black, I think I’ve tried making black buttercream icing before and been troubled because of starting off with a yellow/cream tinge to the icing. Do I just add cocoa to darken it and then black colouring? What type of colouring do you use? Any hints gratefully received. Thanks Ali

    • Hi Ali, I had the frosting recipe linked to another post: https://ontotheplate.wordpress.com/2013/02/02/waitangi-daynew-zealand-day/ You’re quite right, you need cocoa in the frosting to begin with. I use Americolor Super Black food gel. It still takes quite a bit to get the deep black colour. Also the longer the frosting sits the deeper it gets. If you can, make the frosting a day before, then add more gel colour if you think it needs. I’d also recommend using a blend of butter and shortening. In NZ the shortening I use is called Kremelta. I’m not sure if you have the same brand in Aus. The less butter you use the less yellow the frosting is to begin with. Shortening can be replaced like for like, so if you replaced 55gm of butter, you’d use 55gm of shortening, as an example. I made my frosting a day ahead of frosting the cake, but used it the same day for the cupcakes you see in the linked post. And expect a black tongue!

  3. Neets

    The cake turned out beautifully, and so easy compared to other projects I’ve tackled, but so effective and everyone loved it. At least that how it seemed from the facebook photos and comments I wasn’t actually there.
    See if this link lets you see the photo of Shaz with the cake, if not try searching for the group Kiwis in Aussie.

    Thanks so much for all your prompt tips. I’ll have to have more of a browse through your blog, I feel a kindred spirit, I’m originally from Chch too and have managed to turn my joy of baking into my full time job, but always much to learn!


    • Well done Ali! That looks really great. And what neat piping/writing. I noticed you separated Stewart Island too. I’d forgotten that. Great attention to detail 🙂 I’m happy you found a job doing what you’re passionate about. Happy baking/creating!

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