Grandma Newell’s White Cake with Lemon Filling

Left, Bruce Frank and Linda Emmerton pose on their wedding day in 1970 with the lovely wedding cake that was custom-made by her maternal grandmother, Minda Newell.  Right, the cake has a lemon filling and white frosting.

“This recipe is from a book my maternal grandmother used to make my wedding cake in 1970,” Linda Emmerton Frank said. “My grandma Newell took classes to make it for me. I remember Grandma working on it in her apartment behind our house. I would go upstairs and watch her as she decorated it. It is a sweet memory. She set up the cake in the reception area too. She was a special lady. It was beautiful.”

I met Linda when I was doing research on the history of a ranch that my family owns. The property used to be owned by her great-uncle Orville Colburn, whose family moved from Maine to California in the 1860s, and his wife, Lillian Emmerton Colburn.

This white cake recipe was very easy to make from scratch and tastes absolutely delicious.  

Grandma Newell’s White Cake with Lemon Filling

Servings: 12


2 ½ cups cake flour

1 teaspoon salt

2/3 cup shortening

3 teaspoons baking powder

1 ½ cups sugar

1 cup milk

½ teaspoon lemon extract

5 egg whites

½ cup sugar


Preheat oven to 350 F degrees.

Combine, cake flour, salt, shortening, baking powder and sugar; beat at medium speed for 2 minutes. Combine milk and lemon extract; add to flour mixture and beat 1 more minute. In a separate bowl, combine the egg whites and ½ cup sugar; then add to flour mixture and beat 1 minute. Pour batter into two 8-inch round layer pans and bake for 35 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.

Meanwhile, make lemon filling as follows:

1 cup sugar

3 tablespoons cornstarch

2 eggs

1 cup water

Juice of 2 large lemons

Grated rind of 1 lemon

¼ stick butter

Mix the sugar and cornstarch. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs with a rotary beater and add water, lemon juice and lemon rind. Combine with sugar mixture. Melt the butter in the top of a double boiler. Add the sugar mixture and stir. Place the pan over boiling water and stir constantly until the mixture becomes thick and smooth. Remove from heat and cool.

Spread the filling on top of the first cake layer. Gently set the second cake layer on top.

Frost the layer cake with white frosting. Here’s an easy recipe:

2 egg whites

1 ½ cups sugar

1 ½ teaspoons light corn syrup

Dash of salt

1/3 cup cold water

1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine the egg whites, sugar, corn syrup, salt and water in the top of a double boiler. Beat for 1 minute with a rotary or electric beater. Place the pan over boiling water and beat constantly until the frosting forms peaks, about 7 minutes. Remove the pan from the boiling water. Add vanilla and beat until the frosting is of a spreading consistency, about 2 minutes. Chill frosting in refrigerator for 20 minutes. Frost the tops and sides of the layer cake.

Garnish the cake with fresh flowers and serve.