Vanilla Lemon Layer Cake with Strawberry Tarragon Jam

strawberry tarragon cake

Finally! We are finding a groove in our new kitchen. Rocking and rolling along, it seems hard to believe that we started all of it at our kitchen table.

The BEST thing about having my home kitchen back is that I no longer run the risk for pepper contamination. I have a pepper problem, an allergy if you will. I can’t eat peppers or even be around them when peppers are cooking. Tightness, itch, pain, bloat, and more. Yuck.

In my past life I ate peppers with gusto and developed a number of pepper jellies. Since I have lost the love, Tall Dark & Handsome has picked up the torch.

He now makes most of my old favorites and has been working on his own including Pineapple Habanero and Strawberry Chipotle.


Jam Mans favorite pepper jelly to make and eat is Strawberry Chipotle. He probably finishes a jar every other week. He cooked up a couple of batches just the other day. My old self  thinks that the cake below would be great with strawberry chipotle jam and lime zest instead of lemon. Seeing as I like to make food that I can eat, I used strawberry tarragon jam in the cake pictured.

The original cake recipe was given to me by Twin. It was her go-to cake for the bakery she used to manage. Her recipe used self-rising flour, granulated sugar, and was plain vanilla. I never seem to bake by the recipe so this is her cake with my twist.

I like the subtle lemon flavor the pinch of zest imparts but if you are a true lemon lover add as much zest as you please.

Vanilla Lemon Cake

  • 2 stick butter, softened
  • 2c powdered sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 ¾ cup flour
  • 2 ¾ ts baking powder
  • 1ts salt
  • 1c milk
  • 1/2t lemon zest
  • 1tsp vanilla

Prepare 2-8” cake pans. Grease the pans and line the bottom with rounds of parchment paper that are just large enough to cover the bottom. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

cake panscake (3)

Cream together the butter and the sugar in a large bowl. Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition. Add the lemon and vanilla. Alternately add flours and milk, beginning and ending with the flour.

Bake at 350 for 40 minutes or until golden and a toothpick comes out clean. Allow the cakes to cool before attempting to turn them out of the pans. Gently run a sharp knife around the edge of the pan to help release the cake.cake (4)

To layer the cake with jam, begin by carefully cutting the cake in half. Use a long bread knife to slice through the cake creating two thinner layers.

Assemble the cake on a board or cake plate. Remove the parchment paper before you layer up. Top each layer of cake with heaping spoon-fuls of jam. If you are as generous with jam as I am, expect to use 3-4oz of jam per layer.

strawb tarragon cake (1)jam filled cake

If possible make room for this in the fridge and stash the assembled layer cake on a shelf to chill out while you whip up some frosting.

I used my own greek yogurt butter cream but any frosting will be just fine. Begin frosting the cake by applying a crumb coat. This is a thin layer of frosting meant to catch all of the crumbs. Using a clean (not crumby) spatula, apply a second coat of frosting, finishing smooth. Top the cake with toasted chopped nuts and fresh fruit.

The cake can be served immediately but I personally like the cake the second day. By then the jam has gotten a chance to seep into the cake and the flavors have melded further.

Serve thin slices of cake with black coffee or a coffee stout. Heaven.

layered jam cake

Try these! Greek Yogurt Buttercream & Strawberry Preserves