The Ugly Cake

I wasn’t sure what to title this post. These were initial thoughts:

  • Yikes, I Can’t Believe I’ve Never Baked a Cake from Scratch Before!
  • Cream Cheese Frosting Makes Everything Better

But, hands down, this about sums up my first made-from-scratch cake:

“The Ugly Cake”

Our neighbors asked us over for a dinner party last weekend; I was in charge of dessert. I found a fantastic recipe for Lemon Layer Cake with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting posted by Week of Menus.


This is what The Ugly Cake was “supposed” to look like. Dainty, cute, perfect.

Unfortunately, my cake didn’t turn out dainty, cute or perfect. When I read the recipe’s instructions for 9-inch cake pans I thought, “No problem. I’ve got two 9×13 Pyrex dishes.” As you can see, the perfect cake is round. Mine is not. In addition to the difference in shape, I realized that because of the long, rectangular shape of my Pyrex dishes, my cake wasn’t going to be as dense as it should be, and so probably wouldn’t be as moist as it could be. So I covered the bottom layer with the cream cheese frosting, then squeezed a little bit of lemon juice, then swirled the juice into the frosting.

After frosting the top layer I realized just how ugly my cake turned out. So I decided to just pile on the frosting. I mean, seriously, homemade cream cheese frosting fixes everything!

We took The Ugly Cake to our neighbors’ dinner party and it was a HIT! It’s yummy to be wonderful, but it’s more wonderful to be yummy 🙂

Layer Cake with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting (courtesy of Week of Menus)

Makes 9-inch layer cake, serving 12 to 14

2 cups regular sugar
2 tablespoon lemon zest
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
4 large eggs (taken out of the fridge the same time as the butter)
1¼ cup buttermilk
3 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350. Spray two 9 inch cake pans with cooking spray. Cut out parchment sheets the same size as the pans and line pans and spray once again. Set aside until needed.

In a food processor, pulverize together lemon zest and sugar. (Doing so releases the lemon oils.)

In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, blend softened butter and lemon sugar until thoroughly combined. Add eggs, one at a time and beat until well mixed, occasionally scraping down the sides of the bowl to ensure that everything is well blended.

Add half of flour mixture and mix until just combined. and add half of buttermilk and mix until just combined. Scrape down sides of the bowl. Add remaining half of flour mixture, mix until just combined and then add remaining buttermilk. Mix until just combined.again. At this stage, the less you mix the better for your cake. (too much mixing makes for a tough cake.)

Divide cake into prepared pans. Bake for 40 minutes, or until cake springs back when gently pressed with fingertips. Cool for 20 minutes, then remove cake from pans and cool on wire racks until completely cool.


1 cup of butter, softened (2 sticks)
8 oz of cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons lemon zest
5-6 cups of confectioners sugar

In a large mixing bowl, mix butter until it is softened and uniform. Add cream cheese and beat together until it is uniform. Add 3 cups of sugar to the mixture and mix. Add lemon zest and 2 more cups of sugar. Mix again until mixture is creamy and spreadable. Add more sugar if necessary, otherwise prepare to frost cake.

Carefully line your cake plate with a few strips of parchment. This allows you to be slightly messy with the frosting but prevents your cake plate from being completely messed up. Place one layer on top. Place about one cup of frosting on top, and spread evenly over the cake. Top with another layer. Plop another cup of frosting on the middle and work from the middle outward, spreading frosting towards the edge of the cake. Slowly frost the sides by applying a thin layer of frosting with a knife, spinning around the cake. In order to prevent excess crumbs from ending up in the frosting, you can put the cake in the freezer to set it. Add another larger amount of frosting, once again working round the cake to fully frost the sides.

4 thoughts on “The Ugly Cake

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