Lemon Cake From Scratch

This lemon cake from scratch is bursting with lemon flavor! With a lemon cake base, lemon filling and lemon buttercream, you’ll have the perfect cake to get everybody in the mood for spring.

overhead view of lemon cake with one slice on a plate

This lemon cake from scratch tastes as bright and cheerful as it looks! Lemon is such a simple yet powerful flavor that always makes for a decadent treat. Spring and soon to be summer are upon us, and nothing says warm weather like this delicious cake. Here’s how to totally ‘WOW’ your guests (or maybe just your family!) with the best lemon cake EVER.

How to Make Lemon Cake From Scratch

This cake is completely from scratch and it SHOWS. The cake base is simple – cream the butter and the sugar together and slowly start incorporating the rest of the ingredients. We like to use a stand mixer or handheld mixture for this, to make the cake as smooth and delicious as possible. Make sure that you don’t over mix the batter once all the ingredients are in, though; this cake is slightly dense and should not be beaten too much.

Lemon Cake From Scratch Recipe {With Lemon Curd Filling}

Lemon Curd Filling

This filling may seem complicated, but it’s not at all. And honestly, this is probably the best part about this cake. The slightly sweet lemon flavor of the cake paired with the punch of the tangy lemon filling is truly what makes this cake the best.

A trick for the lemon curd filling: Make sure you’re constantly stirring the saucepan as you heat the lemon mixture, and incorporate the tempered eggs slowly. We had to take our pan off the heat as we were pouring in the egg mixture, to make sure that the eggs wouldn’t cook inside the pan.

Tempering eggs, I thought, seemed like a tricky thing. But, if you’re careful, it’s really simple. If you add just the smallest amount of the boiling lemon mixture to your egg yolks as they’re beating, it will slowly warm up the eggs and ensure a smooth filling. No one wants cooked eggs in their lemon curd!

Lemon Buttercream Frosting

This lemon buttercream frosting is one of the simplest parts of the recipe. To make any buttercream, it’s best to beat the butter until fluffy and almost white in appearance first. Then, start slowly adding the powdered sugar. This recipe calls for roughly 7 ½ cups of sugar, but depending on how thick or thin you want your frosting, this amount may vary. To make the perfect consistency every time, we add the powdered sugar and the other ingredients alternately. Then, after letting it beat until fluffy, we either add more milk or more powdered sugar in little bits to get the consistency we need so that the frosting spreads smoothly.

Other Lemon Cake Recipes

Tools to Make This Cake

Lemon Cake From Scratch
Lemon Cake From Scratch

Lemon Cake From Scratch

4.44 from 16 votes
This lemon cake from scratch is bursting with lemon flavor! With a lemon cake base, lemon filling and lemon buttercream, you'll have the perfect cake to get everybody in the mood for spring.
Servings 15
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes

Ingredients
 

For the Cake:

  • 4 cups cake flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter (softened)
  • 2 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 6 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cup milk
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • zest of two lemons

For the Filling:

  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • ½ cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • ¾ cup white sugar
  • 4 egg yolks, beaten

For the Frosting:

  • 7 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1 cup butter (softened)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 6 tablespoons milk

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour two 8-inch round pans.

For the Cake:

  • Cream the butter and sugar together until smooth, and beat in the eggs one at a time. Stir in the vanilla. Add the flour, baking powder, and salt along with the milk, lemon juice and lemon zest, mixing until just combined.
  • Pour the batter equally into prepared pans, and bake for 35-40 minutes. After the cakes cool for 10 minutes, turn them over onto a wire rack to finish cooling.

For the Filling:

  • In a small bowl, beat egg yolks until smooth. As the eggs are beating, put a saucepan on medium heat and add the lemon zest, lemon juice and cornstarch. Then, add the butter and sugar to the lemon mixture. Bring the mixture to a boil, and stir for 1 minute. 
  • Add a small part of the lemon mixture to the egg yolks, still beating the eggs to make sure they don't cook. 
  • Take the saucepan off the heat and stir the egg mixture into the lemon mixture. Stir constantly. 
  • Once incorporated, put the saucepan on low heat and stir for 5 minutes or as the mixture thickens. Do not let the mixture boil.
  • Pour the mixture into a medium bowl, cover with plastic wrap and store in the fridge. This should be refrigerated for at least 1 hour, up to 3 hours.

For the Frosting:

  • In a large bowl, beat the butter together and slowly add the confectioners' sugar. Add the lemon juice and the lemon zest as the confectioners' sugar is added. Add in milk as needed and beat until light and fluffy.

To Assemble:

  • Spread the cooled lemon filling onto one cake, and then carefully place the second lemon cake on top. Using a straight spatula, add the frosting in a thin base layer around the cake, then add a final layer on top. You can add as little or as much frosting as you want. To decorate, use leftover icing to pipe flowers on the top using tip 1M. Add lemon zest or lemon peel to garnish the top. Store at room temperature for up to 24 hours, or store in an airtight container in the fridge.

Notes

The calories shown are based on the cake being cut into 15 pieces (using all of the lemon curd and buttercream), with 1 serving being 1 slice of cake. Since different brands of ingredients have different nutritional information, the calories shown are just an estimate.

Nutrition

Calories: 850kcal | Carbohydrates: 131g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 33g | Saturated Fat: 20g | Cholesterol: 206mg | Sodium: 613mg | Potassium: 238mg | Sugar: 104g | Vitamin A: 1125IU | Vitamin C: 7.9mg | Calcium: 112mg | Iron: 0.9mg
Author Julie Clark
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Calories 850
Keyword birthday, cake, fruit, lemon

homemade lemon cake title image

About Julie Clark

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I love this recipe and I will make it as a layer cake. But, my question is could you do this cake in a 9X12 cake pan and make cake pops out of it? With the same frosting? Need to make about 40 cake pops for a childrens bake sale and going to do sunshine cake pops with the ray around them. But wasn’t sure you could do them with this recipe? I would love a quick response if possible and your not to busy I know school will be out soon and every mother is so busy that’s one… Read more »

Can I use margarine instead of butter?

5 stars
The cake was excellent! Great lemon flavor- that was a hit for lemon loving birthday girl. I used my own lemon curd recipe-. The cake was nice and tall with a very fine texture.

Hi! I want to make this for my daughters birthday. Do you know how long this would need to cook in 6 in. pans? I planned to do a 3 layer cake. Do you think this would make enough batter for that?

5 stars
Such a beautiful and delicious cake. It’s the only lemon cake recipe I will use now. It does make a huge cake though and I find it’s too much for two 8 inch pans so I get some cupcakes out if it too!