This luscious lemon cake recipe features tender, fluffy layers filled with lemon cream cheese frosting. Covered in frosting rosettes and fresh lemon slices, it’s bright, zingy and full of summer sunshine!
Can I use all-purpose flour instead of cake flour?
Yes, you can use all-purpose flour. The cake may turn out just slightly less tender, but the difference will be minimal.
Can I substitute Greek yogurt for the buttermilk?
Absolutely! Plain Greek yogurt is an ideal substitute for buttermilk in baking recipes. Just make sure it’s not flavored or sweetened.
My cake batter looked curdled and separated after adding the eggs. Is that ok?
Don’t worry, it’s perfectly normal for the batter to appear curdled after adding the eggs. Just keep mixing and it will come together in the next steps. Those eggy bits will bake up nice and tender.
Do I have to make the frosting lemon-flavored?
Feel free to customize the frosting to your liking! You can leave out the lemon zest and juice for a creamy vanilla frosting, or even add a different citrus like orange. Get creative!
Should I use a hand mixer or a stand mixer for the frosting?
You can make the frosting by hand with a mixer, but using a stand mixer makes things easier since the frosting takes a few minutes of continuous beating. Just be careful not to overbeat.
How do I stop the frosting from getting too soft?
If your frosting starts getting too warm and loose while frosting the cake, pop it in the fridge for 5-10 minutes to firm it up before finishing decorating.
Can I garnish with something other than lemon slices and pansies?
Absolutely! Some other pretty options are edible flowers, lemon thyme sprigs, grated lemon zest, or candied lemon slices.
What should I store leftover cake in?
Cover any leftover cake tightly and store in the refrigerator. Place leftover frosting in an airtight container in the fridge as well. The frosted cake will last 3-4 days stored properly.
- 2 1/2 cups (300g) all-purpose flour
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup (226g) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups (300g) granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons lemon zest (from 2 lemons)
- 3 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 cup (237ml) buttermilk
- 1/4 cup (60ml) fresh lemon juice (from about 2 lemons)
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting:
- 8 oz (226g) softened cream cheese
- 8 oz (226g) unsalted butter, room temperature
- Zest from 1 large lemon
- 7 cups (875g) powdered sugar
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Yellow food coloring (optional)
- Thin lemon slices and edible pansies for garnish (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Grease two 8-inch cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper circles. Sprinkle with flour and tap out the excess.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed for 1 minute until smooth. Add the sugar and lemon zest and beat for 5 minutes until light and fluffy, scraping down the sides as needed.
- Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. The mixture may look curdled, but that’s okay.
- In a liquid measuring cup, combine the buttermilk and lemon juice. Add the buttermilk mixture to the butter mixture alternately with the dry ingredients, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Mix just until combined, do not overmix.
- Evenly divide the batter between the two prepared pans. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool completely in the pans.
- Make the frosting: In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and butter together on medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the lemon zest and mix for 2-3 minutes until light and fluffy.
- With the mixer running on low, gradually add the powdered sugar alternately with the lemon juice. Mix in the vanilla. Add a drop of yellow food coloring if desired.
- Frost: Place one cooled cake layer on your cake stand or serving plate. Spread with 1 cup frosting. Top with second layer then frost the entire cake with remaining frosting.
- Decorate the top of the cake with large star piping tip, making swirls around the top edge. Add lemon slices and pansies between swirls just before serving.
Enjoy this bright and tangy lemon cake! The tendercrumb and lush lemon cream cheese frosting make each bite absolutely heavenly.