i should probably stop talking about the weather, because here in l.a. it keeps changing. this city is trying on different outfits: cozy and gray one week, bright and breezy another. it was only a couple days ago that the stifling heat had me sticking to my shirt. but today, the air has chilled again: the roof of my car is beaded in rainwater, and the pavement shimmers under the streetlights, which come on earlier to fight the hanging gloom. but no matter the weather, i don’t think there is a day when this lemon frosting wouldn’t fit right in – it sounds like some kind of wonderful weather phenomenon anyway.
i’ve made this butter cake quite a few times since i first found the recipe. i’ve put it on repeat, you could say, and each time i’ve topped it with something new (it lends itself well to different outfits too, i guess): simple and wholesome with strawberries and cream, glossy with a slick coating of caramel, and now covered in this bright and fresh-tasting buttercream. so often, my homemade frostings taste more of powdered sugar spackle than anything worthy of gracing a delicate cake. but in this one, the lemon sings the highest notes and the taste is nothing but cool, clean, and creamy.
i have it mentally bookmarked for my birthday in a couple weeks, where i think it’ll be lovely with a little bit of something pink… hopefully summer will come back around again long enough to visit the berries at the market.
adapted just a smidge from Whipped
Makes enough to frost a one-layer cake
2 sticks butter, firm but not cold
zest of one lemon
1/8 tsp. salt
3 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted
½ tsp. vanilla
3 tsp. lemon juice
2-4 tsp. buttermilk
Beat butter, zest and salt on medium speed until lighter in color and fluffier in texture, about 2 minutes. Reduce speed to low, gradually add sugar, and beat until blended. Add the vanilla and lemon juice and beat until smooth. Do not overmix or frosting will incorporate too much air. It will be creamy and dense. Add buttermilk 1 teaspoon at a time until frosting has a spreadable consistency.