Looking for a quick and delicious lemon cake recipe? Look no further! Learn how to make a lemon cake from scratch using fresh lemon juice and zest, this lemon cake is a great way to celebrate the flavors of summer. Baked in a 9 in. square pan, this cake makes about 8 to 10 servings, perfect for a weekend brunch or weekday dessert.
Treat your family to something light and refreshing with this tasty lemon cake recipe! This is one of my favorite cakes to make. It’s a great way to use up those lemons in the bottom of my fridge and it can be served as is or dressed up with some fresh raspberries or blueberries for color.

What makes this cake so amazing is the fresh lemon flavor that infuses both the cake and the icing, so don’t skip the fresh lemons! The bright, tart refreshing lemons will bring a smile to your face (and your kitchen will smell so good after this cake is done baking).

Easy Lemon Cake Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 2¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon zest (from 2 large lemons)
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup sour cream
To start, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9 in. square pan with vegetable cooking spray.
mixing lemon cake dry ingredients
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda. Set it aside for later.
mixing butter, sugar and lemon zest
In a separate large mixing bowl, beat the sugar, butter and lemon zest with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. This should take about 3 to 5 minutes.
creaming lemon cake mixture
Creaming the butter and the sugar is a crucial step in baking a cake. The purpose is to create tiny air bubbles that can catch gas being released by the leavener (in this case, baking soda and baking powder). This ultimately creates a fine, light crumb texture in your cake.

Also be sure to zest your lemons before you juice them. Lemons are near impossible to zest once they’ve been squeezed and squeezing them is much easier after you’ve zested them…so win-win all around!

mixing eggs into lemon cake mixture
Once your sugar and butter mixture has been creamed together, it’s time to add the eggs. Add them, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl as you go to make sure everything is getting incorporated evenly. Once all the eggs have been added, beat in the fresh lemon juice and vanilla.

adding flour to lemon cake mixture
Now we’ll add our dry ingredients. Add the flour mixture, alternating with the sour cream, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Be sure not to overmix the batter at this stage because this could increase gluten development in the flour, and we don’t want a chewy cake!
adding sour cream to lemon cake mixture
Sour cream is added to not only enhance the flavor, but make the cake light and moist. The acid in sour cream acts to tenderize the gluten in flour and helps create a light cake crumb.
pouring batter into a pan
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread it into a smooth layer.
check doneness of cake
Bake your cake for about 38 to 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Overbaking this cake can dry it out, so be sure to keep an eye on your bake time.
cake resting on cooking grid
Once it’s done (and your kitchen smells amazing), cool your cake in the pan on a cooling grid for 10 minutes. Remove the cake and cool completely on a cooling grid before icing.

Lemon Icing Recipe

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup (1½ sticks) butter, softened
  • 3 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
beating icing
To prepare your icing, beat the softened butter with an electric mixer on medium speed until it’s smooth. We’re using all butter and no shortening in this icing because we’re just going to spread it over the cake…no piping skills necessary! Also the full, velvety butter flavor of this icing pairs perfectly with the tart lemon.
beating icing and sugar
Add the confectioners’ sugar, one cup at a time. Continue beating the icing until it’s smooth, about 2 to 3 minutes. It may look dry once all the sugar has been added, but that’s okay…we’re going to fix that next!
finishing lemon icing
Add the lemon juice and zest and beat until your icing is light and fluffy. If you find your icing is still too dry, add another teaspoon of lemon juice until the consistency is spreadable. If your icing is too soft, add more confectioners’ sugar.
spreading lemon icing on cake

Decorating Your Lemon Cake

Once your cake has completely cooled and your icing is made, use a spatula or knife to spread the icing onto your cake. You could even use the back of a spoon to give it a nice wavy texture.

As for toppings, you can add a little fresh lemon zest on top, or top each slice with a fresh lemon slice or peel. You could also tint the icing a light shade of yellow using yellow icing color.
top cake with lemon zest
For a fun pop of color, try adding fresh blueberries or raspberries. But don’t feel pressured to decorate. This cake is just as good on its own!

If a lighter topping is more your taste, you can make a quick and delicious glaze instead of the icing. For a glaze, combine 1 cup confectioners’ sugar, 5 teaspoons lemon juice and ½ teaspoon lemon zest. Whisk this together and then drizzle over the cake. Again, if the glaze is too thick, add a little more lemon juice and if it’s too thin, add some more sugar.

How to Store Lemon Cake

If there are any pieces left, this cake can be stored, loosely covered, at room temperature for several days.

lemon cake cut into squares
If you want something that’s easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy, make this delicious and simple lemon cake! Give it a try and let us know what you think in the comments below!

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