This Homemade Best-Ever Lemon Cake will be your new go-to lemon cake recipe! Moist and soft with a fluffy, tender crumb and a luscious lemon cream cheese frosting, it is perfect for any time of year, but especially spring and summer!
I hope you guys all had a great Easter Sunday!
Ours was low-key. I made my Key Lime Pie and Berry Mousse Pie and they were a huge hit! It was just 8 of us, as usual, so it was nothing fancy or major. I spent most of the day relaxing with my boys and reading or goofing around on the computer. And thankfully, the weather was perfection: sunny, breezy, and warm enough to wear a dress without a cardigan. I love low-key days like these!
But now it is back to work and I’m kinda glad about it. Wanna know why? Because I have lemon cake to talk about (and eat!).
I have received many requests about finding the perfect lemon cake recipe, but to be honest, none of them really lived up to par. They were too dry, some were cornbread-y tasting (ew!), and some weren’t lemony enough. To be frank, I wanted one like a lemon cake mix: moist and tender but with a real lemon flavor – nothing artificial or sour.
Folks, this is it and it by a long shot! It is AMAZING. I know you’re going to love it!
The recipe is actually adapted from my friend Rachel’s recipe at the Stay at Home Chef. Her recipe had all the elements I wanted and the proportions were just right of each ingredient to yield a fluffy, tender, and supremely moist cake with a fresh, REAL lemon flavor.
I went ahead and made a lemony cream cheese frosting to coat the outside of the cake with. As you can probably see from the photos, I am no cake icer… not in a million years! This icing definitely makes enough to frost the entire cake, inside and out – but I wanted to really drive home that lemon flavor, so I added lemon curd in between the layers. It was a very brilliant decision, if I do say so myself!
The lemon curd is glossy and thick with a very vibrant, punchy lemon flavor and really helps tie the more mellow lemon frosting and cake together. If you wanna get all Betty Crocker, you can certainly make the lemon curd yourself – or I have this recipe! – but I used the Bonne Maman lemon curd and it was fantastic! Anywhere I can shave off time, money, or corners, I will!
The result is the dreamiest, Best-Ever Lemon Cake. Moist, tender, soft and fluffy with a delicious, stick-to-your-fork crumb and superior lemon flavor throughout each element of this easy cake.
UPDATE 1/2020: Some readers had issues with the density of this cake. To fix this, I have made the following amendments to the recipe:
1. I reduced the amount of baking powder as well as added in some baking soda to help with lift.
2. I now require you beat the butter and sugar together for a full FIVE minutes. You read that right! This gives it ample time to break down the sugar crystals and create a light, fluffy and aerated mixture for a fluffier, lighter cake.
- FOR THE CAKE:
- 1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, softened
- 1 & ½ cups granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs
- ¼ cup lemon juice (fresh squeezed is best!)
- 1 & ½ cups buttermilk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Zest of one medium lemon (about 1-2 Tablespoons)
- 3 & ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 3 teaspoons baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- About 1 cup lemon curd, freshly homemade or prepared
- FOR THE FROSTING:
- ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
- One 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- 1 Tablespoon lemon zest (about zest from one medium lemon)
- 4-5 cups confectioners' sugar
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease the bottom of two 9" round cake pans, then place a piece of parchment paper in the bottom. Liberally grease the bottoms and sides of the cake pans with cooking spray; set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter and granulated sugar until fluffy and pale, about 5 minutes. Do not skimp on the beating time as this breaks down the sugar crystals and makes the cake fluffy. Meanwhile, in a medium to large-size bowl, whisk together the eggs, lemon juice, buttermilk, vanilla extract, and lemon zest until combined. Set aside.
- In another bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Starting with the flour, add a little into the stand mixer bowl with the butter mixture and beat on low speed until incorporated. Alternate adding the buttermilk mixture with the flour mixture until a thick batter comes together.
- Divide the batter evenly among the baking pans and smooth out the tops. Bake for about 25-35 minutes, testing with a toothpick inserted near the center. If the toothpick comes out clean or with moist crumbs, it is done. Cool completely.
- For the frosting: In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter, cream cheese, and vanilla extract until smooth, about 1 minute. Gradually add in the confectioners' sugar, alternating with the lemon juice until the frosting is light and fluffy. Beat in the lemon zest to combine.
- To assemble: On a cake plate or cake stand, place one of the cake layers upside down. Pipe a thick border of frosting around the edge of the cake, leaving the center open. Fill with the lemon curd, spreading out to the frosting border. Top with the second cake layer, then frost with the remaining frosting on the tops and sides of the cake. Serve!
I know you guys are going to adore this easy, beautiful and delicious cake recipe!
Have a super sweet day!