Lemon Cake Recipe

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Lemon cake that is light, fluffy and fully of natural lemon flavor!

There is something so refreshing about lemon cake. Easy to make and oh-s0-delicous either on it’s own or paired with lemon curd, fruits and berries or fresh blackberry buttercream.

lemon cake

What is a lemon cake?

Well it has to be one of two things. A cake in the shape of a lemon, or a cake that is lemon flavored but I suppose it could be both! Double lemon! It definitely is delicious. This lemon cake recipe is a variation of Liz’s moist vanilla cake recipe and can be used for any cake from weddings to sculpted!

lemon cake

This lemon cake get’s it’s citrus zing from lots of lemon zest and a touch of lemon extract. You can pump up the zest if you want more lemon flavor or add in some lemon curd for those ultimate lemon lovers out there (like me).

Lemon cake goes so well with so many flavors but especially other fruits! We love lemon curd filling with our strawberry cake recipe or fill the lemon cake recipe with some yummy marion berry buttercream!

blackberry filling

Can you use lemon juice in place of lemon extract?

Not really no. I hate to be a bubble burster but lemon juice has a such a different level of acidity that it really can’t be thrown in place of lemon extract.

Lemon extract is a high concentration of lemon flavor mixed with alcohol that will evaporate leaving the lemon flavor. To be honest if you are looking for a replacement for lemon extract, lemon zest would be a better choice.

How do you make homemade lemon extract?

To make your own lemon extract at home you’re mostly going to need time. It is definitely not something you can just whip up and use right away but it can be a great alternative to store bought extract if you are willing to wait for it.

lemon extract

You can easily make lemon extract at home by using a vegetable peeler to peel off thin slices of the lemon peel to place in a jar. Then simply cover the peels in some vodka and let sit for 4 to 6 weeks depending on how potent you like your extract. Once it’s ready, strain the liquid into a clean jar and it is ready for use.

lemon cake

How do you make a lemon cake?

Assuming we are talking about the lemon flavored cake here and not a lemon shaped cake, lemon cake really isn’t very different from any other cake recipe with the exception of the lemon flavor which comes from the addition of fresh lemon zest and lemon extract.

Because lemons are acidic, I have recently added in 1 tsp of baking soda to the recipe to account for the acidity.

If you want your lemon cake to be more “lemon colored” you can add in a touch of lemon yellow food coloring but I tend to like my cakes in their natural form.

Easy Moist Lemon Cake Recipe

The use of cake flour versus all purpose flour in this recipe really gives it a nice fine crumb with a smooth texture. Using both oil and butter makes it extra moist and fresh lemon zest plus lemon extract give the cake it’s burst of flavor.

lemon cake
5 from 1 vote

Lemon Cake Recipe

A simple variation on my vanilla cake recipe, this lemon recipe is full of flavor, moist and delicious, but also solid and dense for stacking and sculpting 3D cakes.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 6 cups


  • 15 oz cake flour
  • 14 oz granulated sugar
  • 12 oz whole milk
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 oz vegetable oil
  • 1 whole lemon zest
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp lemon extract
  • 8 oz unsalted butter


  1. Heat oven to 335º F/168º C — 350º F/177º C. I tend to use lower setting to prevent my cakes from getting too dark on the outside before the inside is done baking.

  2. Measure out the liquid ingredients and place them into a bowl.

    measure out liquid ingredients and set them aside
  3. Measure out dry ingredients and place them into the stand mixer bowl.

    measure out dry ingredients into a stand mixer bowl
  4. Attach the paddle to the mixer, and turn on the slowest speed (setting 1 on Kitchen Aid mixers). Slowly add chunks of your softened butter until it is all added. Let mix until batter resembles coarse sand.

    attach the paddle attachment and turn on lowest setting
  5. Add 1/3 of your liquid ingredients while mixing on low until just moistened. This part is crucial. Don't add too much liquid.

    add one third of your liquid ingredients and mix
  6. Increase mixing speed to medium (setting 5 on Kitchen Aid mixer). Let the mixture whip up until it has thickened and lightened in color. It should look like soft-serve ice cream. If you do not let the batter mix fully, you will end up with very short, cumbly cakes. This mixing can take up to 2 minutes. It is important not to undermix or overmix your batter.

    whip your cake batter for 2 minutes
  7. Scrape the bowl. This is an important step. If you skip it, you will have hard lumps of flour and unmixed ingredients in your batter. If you do it later, they will not mix in fully.

  8. Slowly add in the rest of your liquid ingredients, stopping to scrape the bowl one more time halfway through. Your batter should be thick and not too runny. I have to spoon mine into pans with a rubber spatula.

    cake batter should be thick enough to spoon it out of the bowl with a rubber spatula
  9. Lightly grease 2 8" cake pans with vegetable shortening and dust with cake flour. Tap out excess flour. Fill pans 3/4 full. Give the pan a little tap on each side to level out the batter and get rid of any air bubbles.

    I always start by baking for 20 minutes for 8" and smaller cakes and 30 minutes for 9" and larger cakes and then checking for doneness. If the cakes are still really jiggly, I add another 10 minutes. I check every 5 minutes after that until I'm close and then it's every 2 minutes. Cakes are done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few crumbs. 

    grease the cake pans with vegetable oil then dust with cake flour and tap out the excess then fill three quarters full with cake batter
  10. Remove cakes from oven. If they are domed up, place a clean tea towel on top and using an oven mitt, lightly press down until flat. This does not harm the cakes at all and cuts down on waste.

  11. After cakes have cooled for 10 minutes or the pans are cool enough to touch, flip the cakes over and remove from the pans onto the cooling racks to cool completely. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator.

    flip cakes out of pan to cool on a cooling rack
  12. Once the cakes are chilled in the refrigerator (about an hour for this size, longer for larger cakes), tort, fill and crumb coat all at once. If you do not plan on crumb coating the same day, you can leave the wrapped cakes on the countertop. Chilling can dry out your cakes before they are iced, so avoid keeping them in the refrigerator longer than necessary. Cakes can be frozen in freezer bags for later use as well.


Shannon M

2 reviews on “Lemon Cake Recipe

  1. I just made your lemon cake today, but I used the recipe (I doubled the recipe) from your vanilla/chocolate (making the vanilla into lemon). It’s from the printed recipe format that has the Vanilla Cake on top broken into single, double, triple recipes.
    I see that the recipe above for lemon cake is different. Can this recipe be doubled? I usually make tall cakes so I often double my recipes, and I usually like to make in 6″ rounds.
    For lemon, which recipe is your go to?
    Thank You!!

  2. I made this recipe the other day, but as cupcakes and they were absolutely delicious. Girls at working were raving about them. Light and fluffy. I did a lemon meringue butter cream that just gave it that extra hint of lemon.
    Thank you for a great recipe!

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