3 cups sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 large eggs, beaten
2 cups cold water
Juice and grated zest of 4 lemons
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
¼ cup bourbon
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2½ cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 large eggs
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
2½ cups cake flour, sifted*
Sweetened whipped cream and lemon slices
Lemon frosting: Combine sugar and flour in top of a double broiler. Blend in eggs, water, lemon juice and zest. Cook until very thick. Remove from heat. Stir in butter and bourbon. Refrigerate until thoroughly chilled.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour three 9-inch round cake pans. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Blend in vanilla. Add eggs, one at a time, blending after each addition. Dissolve baking soda in buttermilk. Alternately add flour and buttermilk to butter mixture, blending after each addition. Pour batter into prepared cake pans. Bake 20 minutes. Cool in pans on wire racks. Remove from pans. Let cool completely.
Place one cake layer on a serving plate. Tape a double foil collar, about 6 inches high, securely around single cake layer. Spread one-third chilled frosting over first layer. Repeat with second and third cake layers. End with a top layer of frosting. Refrigerate overnight with collar in place. Shortly before serving, remove collar and frost sides of cake with sweetened whipped cream. Garnish with lemon slices. Serves 8 to 10.
*Cake flour contains less gluten than regular flour, which is why it produces lighter cakes. If a recipe calls for cake flour and you don’t have any, substitute 1 cup stirred all-purpose flour minus 2 tablespoons for 1 cup cake flour.