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A side view of a slice of lemon cake being removed from a cake stand.
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5 from 2 votes

Lemon Cake

This lemon cake features light and fluffy cake layers topped with a zingy homemade lemon frosting. Great for baby showers, Easter, and Mother's Day! 
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword lemon, lemon cake
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 33 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 18 minutes
Servings 10 slices
Author Danielle

Ingredients

Lemon Cake

  • 3 cups (345 grams) cake flour (spooned & leveled)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (240 ml) buttermilk (room temperature)
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) canola or vegetable oil
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (2 sticks, or 230 grams) unsalted butter (softened)
  • 1 ¾ cups (350 grams) granulated sugar
  • Zest of 3 medium lemons
  • 4 large eggs (room temperature)

Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 12 ounces (340 grams) brick-style cream cheese (softened)
  • ¾ cup (1.5 sticks, or 170 grams) unsalted butter (softened)
  • 3 cups (360 grams) powdered sugar
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons (15 to 30 ml) fresh lemon juice

Instructions

  • To make the lemon cake: Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Spray two 9-inch round cake pans with nonstick cooking spray, line the bottom of the pans with parchment paper, and set aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl, whisk the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together until well combined. Set aside.
  • In a separate large mixing bowl or measuring cup, whisk the buttermilk, oil, lemon juice, and vanilla extract together until well combined. Set aside.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large mixing bowl using a handheld mixer, beat the butter on low speed until smooth, then slowly mix in the granulated sugar.
  • Once all of the sugar is added, add the lemon zest, and increase to medium speed and continue mixing for another 4 to 5 minutes or until the mixture is light and fluffy.
  • Mix in the eggs, one at a time, make sure to stop and scrape around the bottom and sides of the bowl after each egg.
  • Add the dry ingredients in three additions alternating with the buttermilk mixture (begin and end with the dry ingredients) on low speed. Mix in each addition until just combined, making sure not to over mix the batter.
  • Use a rubber spatula to scrape around the bottom and sides of the bowl to ensure that everything is well combined.
  • Evenly divide the cake batter between the two prepared cake pans and spread it around into one even layer.
  • Bake for 28 to 32 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pans for about 20 minutes. Slide a knife around the outside of the cakes, then carefully remove the cakes from the pans, and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  • To make the lemon cream cheese frosting: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle or whisk attachment, or in a large mixing bowl using a handheld mixer, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add the butter and mix for about 30 seconds to 1 minute until well combined and smooth.
  • Add the powdered sugar and lemon juice (start with 1 tablespoon and add more if needed) and continue mixing until fully combined, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  • To assemble the cake: Level the tops of each cake with a knife or cake leveler. Place one of the cakes on a cake stand, top with a layer of frosting, and smooth it out into one even layer. Place the second layer on top, then use the remaining frosting to frost the top and sides of the cake.

Video

Notes

Storage Instructions: Store cake in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Bring to room temperature before serving, if desired.
Freezing Instructions: Cake layers may be wrapped tightly and frozen for up to 3 months, thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Frosting can be stored in a large freezer bag and frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before frosting the cake.
Cake flour: If you don't have any on hand, you can use my homemade cake flour substitute here.
Cream Cheese: Make sure to use brick-style cream cheese for the frosting. Cream cheese spread in a tub is thinned out and will result in a runny frosting.
To make a 9x13 cake: Grease a 9x13 pan with nonstick cooking spray, pour the batter into the pan, and spread it out into one even layer. Bake at 350°F (180°C) for 35 to 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
To make a three layer cake: Divide the batter between three 8-inch round cake pans. Adjust the baking time to 23 to 28 minutes.