Birthday Cake Club: Tart and Sweet Sheet Cake
Soft sponge cake, raspberry jam, lemon curd, and a bit of passion fruit...fit for a party!
We are kicking off 2023 Birthday Cake Club with a sheet cake! Make this layered sheet cake with sweet and tart filling and toppings fit for a party.
I hope this cake lands in your inbox like a ray of sunshine. Even though it’s grey and stormy out, citrus are out there doing the heavy lifting this season and brightening our gloomiest days. I’m all smiles today thanks to this big pop of pink, Meyer lemons, tart raspberry, and a single imported passion fruit - hopefully you are too.
For all you January babies, let’s celebrate like it’s sunny, shorts season. You deserve it!
I can’t tell you the last time I made a layered sheet cake. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve made plenty of sheet cakes over the years. In fact, it is probably because I made so many in the beginning of my career at the local bakery that I’ve shied away from them for so long.
I found this organic, pre-portioned sheet cake trend and thought it would be perfect for Birthday Cake Club. With the buttercream unfinished but tops embellished, these modern sheet cakes blow any nostalgic vision of a sheet cake away.
Sheet cakes are typically made for a crowd (another reason I don’t bake them as often for just my own household), but this one serves 12, neat squares of cake. It also skips everything I dislike about frosting a sheet cake and favors rough edges and forgiving layers.
First, we start with a hot milk sponge cake. We used this recipe in the Berry Rose Chantilly Cake, and I have been dreaming of the light and fluffy cake ever since. What I love is that it bakes up thick and relatively flat while retaining its soft, tear-apart texture. I was able to split the cake layers in half horizontally without much trouble.
Next, raspberry jam will sandwich the split layers of cake back together. It is a thin layer that nearly melts into the cake, so no worries if the cake layers are not split perfectly even across. I used a double fruit jam that packed a lot of flavor without being overly sweet.
A layer of tangy lemon curd sits between the raspberry-sandwiched slabs of sponge. Do not skimp on the buttercream dam here (nor with the raspberry layers). It is citrus season in North America, so the lemons should be juicy and in abundance. I used Meyer lemons for a slightly sweeter, floral flavor.
If you ever think getting a crisp top edge to your round cakes is tricky, then you will not have a fun time frosting a rectangular cake. Leaving the top edge of the buttercream “raw” and unfinished was enough for me to enjoy sheet cakes for the first time.
Use a ruler, no seriously, to measure the finished cake. Score the cake into 12 equal pieces (four pieces along the long side, and 3 across the short side). Within each serving, decorate as desired.
For half, I used a #104 petal tip to pipe some ruffles and added fresh raspberries. For the others, I piped a ring of buttercream using a small star tip and dolloped on some passion fruit-rippled lemon curd. Zest a lemon straight over the top of the cake to finish.