White ChocolateLemon Walnut Cake

The Ivy, a restaurant in West Hollywood famous for its cozy setting, big portions, and celebrity couples looking for attention, is also famous for a made-to-order lemon cake studded with walnuts and layered with a whitechocolate lemon mousse and whipped cream. My streamlined version features a tall cylinder of lemony sour-cream cake swathed in white-chocolate creamcheese frosting and encrusted all over with candied walnuts. Definitely starlet-worthy.


  • 21/2 cups [500 g] granulated sugar
  • 3 Tbsp grated lemon zest
  • 11/2 cups [210 g] all-purpose flour
  • 11/2 cups [180 g] cake flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 11/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 cup [240 g] sour cream, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup [60 ml] freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup [110 g] unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup [120 ml] canola or vegetable oil
  • 3 eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 egg yolks, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup [120 g] very finely chopped walnuts


  • 12 oz [340 g] white chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1 lb [455 g] cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup [110 g] unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/4 tsp lemon oil or 1/2 tsp lemon extract
  • 2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 cup [120 g] confectioners’ sugar, plus more if needed


  • 6 Tbsp [75 g] granulated sugar
  • 3 Tbsp water
  • 2 cups [240 g] chopped walnuts


Position a rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350°F [180°C]. Coat three 8-in [20-cm] or 9-in [23-cm] round cake pans with nonstick cooking spray. Line the bottoms with parchment paper.

Place the sugar in a small bowl, add the lemon zest, and rub the sugar and lemon zest together until the sugar is moist and sandy and fragrant with lemon. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, sift together the allpurpose flour, cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

Stir the sour cream and lemon juice together in a small bowl. Set aside.

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and oil together on low speed until creamy and emulsified, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the lemon sugar and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, 4 to 5 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the eggs and egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla.

On low speed, beat the dry ingredients into the batter in three additions, beating after each addition just until combined, 10 to 15 seconds. Alternate with 2 additions of the sour-cream mixture, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. With a rubber or silicone spatula, fold in the finely chopped walnuts.

Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans and smooth the tops with a spatula. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until a wooden skewer inserted into the center of each cake comes out clean.

Transfer the cakes to wire racks and let cool in the pans for 10 minutes. Invert onto the racks and discard the parchment paper. Let cool completely.

To make the frosting:

Spread the chopped white chocolate in a single layer on a microwave-safe plate. Microwave on high for 15 seconds. The chocolate should be soft and shiny, but still hold – ing its shape. Stir until smooth. If the chocolate is not completely melted, heat in 15-second increments, stirring until smooth. Set aside.

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese on high speed until smooth. Scrape down the bowl. With the mixer on low, beat in the melted white chocolate. Beat in the butter and lemon oil until thick and creamy. Beat in the lemon juice and then the con – fectioners’ sugar. The frosting should be thick and spreadable. If too thin, beat in a little more confectioners’ sugar until it reaches the right consistency. Set aside.

To make the Candied Walnuts:

Com – bine the sugar and water in a medium saucepan. Place over medium heat and cook, swirling the pan occasionally, until the sugar dissolves. Add the chopped walnuts and bring the mixture to a boil, stirring the walnuts to coat with the sugar syrup. Decrease the heat to medium and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occa – sionally, until the syrup coating the nuts is thick and sticky. Scrape the nut mixture onto a baking sheet, using a fork to sep – arate them if necessary, and let cool in a single layer. When cool, the nuts should be crisp. Chop the candied nuts very finely with a sharp knife, or in a food processor fitted with the metal blade with short pulses, until very finely ground.

To finish the cake:

Place one cake layer on a round cardboard cake round, cake plate, or cake stand. Spread evenly with one-fourth of the frosting. Top with the second cake layer and spread with the same amount of frosting. Top with the third cake layer and generously frost the top and sides of the cake with the remain – ing frosting, smoothing it evenly with an offset spatula or bench scraper. Encrust the top and sides of the cake completely with the candied walnuts, pressing them gently into the icing to help them stick. Refrigerate the cake until firm, at least 1 to 2 hours. The cake can be refrigerated for up to 24 hours before serving.

Remove the cake from the refrigerator 1 to 2 hours before slicing and serving. Store the cake in a covered cake carrier or other container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.


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