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 inch 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 on 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 infused in both the cake and the frosting, so don’t skip the fresh lemons! The bright, tart refreshing lemons will bring a smile to your face and your kitchen will smell amazing after this cake is done baking.
- 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
Step 1: To start, preheat your oven to 350℉. Spray a 9 inch square pan with vegetable cooking spray.
Step 2: In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda. Set it aside for later.
Step 3: 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 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!
Step 4: 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.
Step 5: 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. This could increase gluten development in the flour, and we don’t want a chewy cake!
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 the flour and helps create a light cake crumb.
Step 6: Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan and spread it into a smooth layer.
Lemon Frosting Recipe
- ¾ cup (1½ sticks) butter, softened
- 3 cups confectioners’ sugar (aka powdered sugar)
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
Step 1: To prepare your frosting, 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 frosting because we’re just going to spread it over the cake. No piping skills necessary! Also the full, velvety butter flavor of this frosting pairs perfectly with the tart lemon.
Step 2: Add the confectioners’ sugar, one cup at a time. Continue beating the frosting 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!
Step 3: Add the lemon juice and zest and beat until your frosting is light and fluffy. If you find your frosting is still too dry, add another teaspoon of lemon juice until the consistency is spreadable. If your frosting is too soft, add more confectioners’ sugar.
Decorating Your Lemon Cake
Once your cake has completely cooled, use a spatula or knife to spread the frosting 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 frosting a light shade of yellow using yellow icing color.
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 frosting. 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. If the glaze is too thick, add a little more lemon juice. 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 with Zesty Lemon Frosting
- 2¼ cups All-Purpose Flour
- 1½ teaspoons Baking Powder
- ¾ teaspoon Salt
- ½ teaspoon Baking Soda
- 1 ⅓ cups Granulated Sugar
- ½ cup Butter 1 Stick, 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
- ¾ cup Butter 1 1/2 Sticks, Softened
- 3 cups Powdered Sugar (Confectioners' Sugar)
- 3 tablespoons Lemon Juice
- 1 teaspoon Lemon Zest
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare a 9 in. square pan with vegetable cooking spray.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda.
- In a large bowl, beat sugar, butter and lemon zest with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes.
- Add eggs, one at a time, beating well.
- Scrape down bottom and sides of bowl and beat in lemon juice and vanilla.
- Add flour mixture alternately with sour cream, beginning and ending with flour. Do not overmix.
- Pour batter into prepared pan and spread into an even layer. Bake 38-45 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean. Cool in pan on cooling grid 10 minutes, then remove cake to cooling grid, or cool completely in pan on cooling grid.
- Beat butter with mixer on medium speed until smooth.
- Add 1 cup of confectioners’ sugar at a time and beat until smooth. Frosting will appear dry.
- Add lemon juice and zest; beat until light and fluffy. Spread onto cooled cake.