Easy Lemon Cake

| |

After sharing our Royal Wedding-inspired Lemon Elderflower Cake, I wanted to follow it up with a simple and easy Lemon Layer Cake recipe complete with a mouth-puckering lemon buttercream frosting.

Super Simple Lemon Layer Cake with luscious lemon buttercream frosting - the ultimate birthday cake recipe for the lemon dessert fan in your life

Easy Lemon Cake Recipe

I don’t know how or why it happened, but at some point in the last few years lemon started replacing chocolate as my go-to favorite dessert flavor.

Now, don’t get me wrong – I still looooove chocolate, but there’s something so satisfying and refreshing about a zingy lemon dessert, especially after a celebration meal.

Each bright, zesty bite of this luscious lemon layer cake is like a bit of sunshine on your fork! This cake is so light and fluffy, with a rich lemon buttercream frosting, that every bite just melts in your mouth.

Both the cake and the frosting for this recipe are completely from-scratch. While I don’t mind using an occasional boxed cake mix (especially when it comes to chocolate cake), the flavor and texture of this lemon cake cannot be compared to a boxed lemon cake mix. You will not regret the extra effort once you taste this cake. ( And canned frosting is always a crime against baking, no matter the flavor.)

If I could do one thing differently with this cake, I would have used a combination of the lemon buttercream and lemon curd for the filling (like I did with my Elderflower Lemon Cake), just for that extra tart pop of lemon.

Can this lemon cake be frozen? Absolutely. You can freeze the unfrosted layers by wrapping and then placing in airtight freezer bags or freezer containers. (This set of freezer containers is a crazy bargain.) The cake layers can be frozen for up to two months. Let the cakes come to room temperature before frosting.

While I have previously frozen buttercream and not had issues with it separating, that can be hit or miss so I don’t recommend it. Make your buttercream fresh as the cakes are thawing.

What is lemon extract used for? While you can use lemon juice, lemon extract is more potent and can be used in smaller quantities. The amount of lemon juice you would need to get the same flavor in your buttercream would potentially curdle the butter and throw off the texture of the frosting.

Why is my lemon cake dry? There are a few baking mistakes that can lead to a dry cake: over mixing the batter, using too much flour, and over baking the cake. Ensure that when you are measuring the flour, that you use a spoon to scoop the flour into your measuring cup – don’t pack the flour! If you discover that you cake is dry after baking it, you can make a simple syrup and brush over the cake (I like to poke all over the cake with a kebab skewer or toothpick before brushing on the syrup).

To make a simple syrup, combine equal parts sugar and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Once the sugar has dissolved, let the mixture cool before brushing on top of your cake.

How to get perfectly flat cake layers? I tend to just bake and then use this dental floss hack to remove any domes that occasionally occur with baking. However, you can also make homemade cake strips to ensure perfectly flat cake layers. Check out this tutorial from Preppy Kitchen for how to do that.

 

Lemon Cake Recipe Variations

You can make this lemon layer cake into a lemon sheet cake, if you’d prefer to skip all the layering steps!

This cake can be made into individual lemon cupcakes with a swirl of lemon buttercream on top.

You can make this recipe into a lemon blueberry cake or lemon raspberry cake by coating some berries in flour and mixing them into your batter just before portioning out into your cake pans.

Check out some of my other favorite lemon desserts:

Lemon Cake Ingredients

Scroll down to the printable recipe card for full measurements.

Tip: if you want to just make a 3-layer, 6″ round cake, you can half this recipe.

Kitchen Tools You May Find Helpful

How to Make an Easy Lemon Cake

Preheat oven to 350ºF

Grease and flower you cake pans. I also like to add a small circle or square of parchment paper to the bottom to help with easy removal. Set aside.

In a large bowl (or the bowl to your stand mixer), cream together the butter and lemon zest, until smooth and light-coloured.

Add the white sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.

Add the eggs, preferably one at a time, allowed each egg to be incorporated into the mixture fully before adding another.

Add the vanilla and mix until combined.

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder and salt.

Add half of the flour mixture to the butter mixture, fully incorporate, then add the milk, half of the flour, and then the lemon juice.

Divide the batter among the prepared cake pans.

Bake the cakes for 25 minutes.

How to Make Lemon Buttercream

Beat together the vanilla extract, lemon extract, butter and powdered icing sugar for 2 minutes.

Add the heavy cream and yellow food dye (if using) and beat to incorporate.

Adjust the consistency with additional powdered icing sugar if you need it to be stiffer.

Taste and adjust flavor with additional lemon extract, as desired.

You can thin out the frosting as needed with more heavy cream, or thicken with additional powdered icing sugar.

Scoop 1 cup of the frosting into a piping bag fitted with a large star tip.

To assemble the lemon layer cake:

Remove the cakes from the cake pans. Trim off any rounded domes and freeze for future cake pop use.

Place the first cake layer on your serving tray and top with 1/2 cup of frosting. Use an offset spatula to smooth it all over the top, and then sandwich your second cake layer on top.

Place 1 cup of frosting on top and use the offset spatula to smooth it all over the cake, adding additional frosting as needed.

Use the piping bag to swirl frosting on the edges. To do this, apply even pressure as you rotate your wrist and move along the edge of the cake.

 

Pin this Easy Lemon Cake recipe:

How to make a lemon layer cake with easy lemon buttercream frosting. This homemade lemon cake recipe is super simple and tastes way better than any boxed lemon cake!

Grab your free printable for our lemon layer cake recipe:

Yield: 12 servings, 1 2-layer lemon cake

Easy Lemon Cake

Easy Lemon Cake

A refreshing and zingy lemon cake with a luscious lemon buttercream.

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Additional Time 10 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 3/4 Tbsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 Tbsp lemon zest
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup milk room temperature
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice

For the Lemon Buttercream:

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup shortening
  • 5 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons heavy cream, as needed
  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F
  2. Grease and flower you cake pans. I also like to add a small circle or square of parchment paper to the bottom to help with easy removal. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl (or the bowl to your stand mixer), cream together the butter and lemon zest, until smooth and light-coloured.
  4. Add the white sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  5. Add the eggs, preferably one at a time, allowed each egg to be incorporated into the mixture fully before adding another.
  6. Add the vanilla and mix until combined.
  7. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder and salt.
  8. Add half of the flour mixture to the butter mixture, fully incorporate, then add the milk, half of the flour, and then the lemon juice.
  9. Divide the batter among the prepared cake pans.
  10. Bake the cakes for 25 minutes.

How to Make Lemon Buttercream

  1. Beat together the vanilla extract, lemon extract, butter and powdered icing sugar for 2 minutes.
  2. Add the heavy cream and yellow food dye (if using) and beat to incorporate.
  3. Adjust the consistency with additional powdered icing sugar if you need it to be stiffer.
  4. Taste and adjust flavor with additional lemon extract, as desired.
  5. You can thin out the frosting as needed with more heavy cream, or thicken with additional powdered icing sugar.
  6. Scoop 1 cup of the frosting into a piping bag fitted with a large star tip.

To assemble the lemon layer cake:

  1. Remove the cakes from the cake pans. Trim off any rounded domes and freeze for future cake pop use.
  2. Place the first cake layer on your serving tray and top with 1/2 cup of frosting. Use an offset spatula to smooth it all over the top, and then sandwich your second cake layer on top.
  3. Place 1 cup of frosting on top and use the offset spatula to smooth it all over the cake, adding additional frosting as needed.
  4. Use the piping bag to swirl frosting on the edges. To do this, apply even pressure as you rotate your wrist and move along the edge of the cake.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

12

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 676Total Fat: 34gSaturated Fat: 20gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 12gCholesterol: 125mgSodium: 386mgCarbohydrates: 90gFiber: 1gSugar: 70gProtein: 5g

Sugar, Spice and Glitter uses an auto-generate nutrition calculator. Nutrition information isn’t always accurate unless analyzed in a scientific lab, so these should be considered more of a guideline than medical information.

Pin this Recipe for Later

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Pinterest

I hope your family loves this simple lemon cake recipe – it’s the perfect lemon cake for a birthday party or summer BBQ!

For more delicious lemon desserts, check out our No-Bake Lemon Lush recipe (with video) or our Lemon Sticky Rolls recipe.

Super Simple Lemon Layer Cake with luscious lemon buttercream frosting - the ultimate birthday cake recipe for the lemon dessert fan in your life  How to make a lemon layer cake with easy lemon buttercream frosting. This homemade lemon cake recipe is super simple and tastes way better than any boxed lemon cake!

Similar Posts

9 Comments

  1. Directions for buttercream state to add vanilla and lemon extract, but the ingredient list for the buttercream does not specify vanilla extract. How much should be used? It does include shortening in the ingredients list for the buttercream, but this ingredient does not appear in the step-by-step instructions.

    1. Sorry, I was probably distracted by kids and wrote “vanilla extract” instead of shortening. Shortening should be added at the same time as the butter – I did not use vanilla extract in the buttercream.
      Thank you for catching my mistake 🙂

    1. Sorry, this is an issue with the recipe card. I have two lemon cakes on the site and the main one does use 3 8″ cake pans, but this one is supposed to show all of the ingredients halved… I’ll just manually change it rather than hope it works. Sorry for any frustration this could have caused!

  2. What size round cake pans did you use? My bake time is taking much longer than the recipe states.

  3. I made your recipe yesterday and I followed it to the T and was extremely disappointed in the outcome the cake didn’t rise it wasn’t light and fluffy kind of dry

  4. I am so upset also. I followed the recipe exactly and used 8” pans. I cooked for the time indicated. I had them fall in the middle. The sides rose but the middle was flat! I checked and the cakes were done, just didn’t rise or fell. What did I do wrong? I haven’t tasted them yet. I’m going to try and trim down to make then layers.

    1. Hi Cyndi,
      I have it on my list to make a video for this cake – it’s the same exact recipe as another lemon cake on my site (different frosting and a simple syrup glaze used in the other one) which no one has had issues with, but this one has caused issues – which I can’t explain.
      I will update you when the video is posted and hopefully that helps, but a quick google search indicates that any of these could be the reason your cake didn’t rise in the center:
      Incorrect oven temperature
      Underbaking the cake (even if you followed the times, still double check with a toothpick or cake tester)
      Expired baking powder
      Opening the oven door too early
      Closing the oven door too sharply
      Overbeating the batter in the last stage
      Mixing the ingredients in the wrong order
      Incorrect moisture levels
      Incorrect pan size
      Cooling the cake too quickly
      Batter sitting too long before baking

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.