Recipe – Lemon Layer Cake

Recipe - Lemon Layer Cake

A lemon layer cake is a light and moist dessert with layers of delicious lemon flavor. It’s also a perfect make-ahead option.

The key to a fluffy lemon layer cake is to let the ingredients come to room temperature before mixing them together. That way, the eggs, butter, and milk will hold more air while they’re beaten into the batter.

Lemon layer cake for dessert

A lemon layer cake is a light and moist cake topped with a lemon buttercream frosting. This delicious dessert is perfect for a birthday or any special occasion!

Can a lemon layer cake be fixed ahead of time?

The answer is yes, but the cake should be made and assembled as close to the day of serving as possible. You can make the cake a day or two in advance and store it at room temperature until you’re ready to assemble the layers and frost it.

For the lemon cream cheese frosting, I don’t recommend making it ahead of time because if you make it too far in advance, it will soften up too much and won’t spread properly. If you’d like to make the frosting a few days ahead of time, you can keep it in an airtight container in the refrigerator and re-whip it on low before you assemble the cake.

If you want to use this frosting recipe to make a lemon layer cake, then you can bake the layers ahead of time and wrap them in plastic wrap until you’re ready to assemble them. Before assembling the cake, you can also freeze the layers and thaw them at room temperature.

Should lemon layer cake be refrigerated?

The answer to this question depends greatly on what kind of lemon layer cake you make. For example, a lemon cake with no filling or frosting would not need to be refrigerated; however, if it had a lemon curd filling or a lemon buttercream frosting on top, it probably should be kept in the refrigerator.

Lemon Layer Cake
Lemon Layer Cake


For The Cake

  • 2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 ¼ cups sour cream
  • ¼ cup whole milk
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon zest
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp lemon extract
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs

For the frosting

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 12 oz cream cheese
  • 4 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 2 tbsp heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp lemon extract
  • 1 fresh lemon zest
  • ½ tsp salt

Preparation Directions

  • Mix the flour with the salt, baking powder, and baking soda in a medium bowl.
  • Mix the sour cream with milk, vanilla extract, lemon extract, and lemon zest in another bowl.
  • In a large bowl, add the butter and the oil and beat for 2 minutes with the mixer at high speed.
  • Add the sugar and beat for 5 minutes until all the sugar melts.
  • Add whole eggs gradually and beat until the composition is foamy.
  • Add half of the flour mixture and half of the sour cream mixture. Beat at medium speed until homogenized.
  • Add the rest of the flour mixture and the rest of the sour cream mixture. Beat at medium speed until homogenized.
  • Pour the mixture into a 9-inch baking pan. Bake in the preheated oven at 325 degrees F for 75 minutes.
  • After baking the cake, leave it on a cooling rack until the cake cools completely.
  • Add the butter and cream cheese in a bowl and beat for 2 minutes until it becomes creamy.
  • Gradually add the confectioner’s sugar and beat with the mixer until it becomes foamy.
  • Add the heavy whipping cream, vanilla extract, lemon extract, salt, and lemon zest. Beat for 2 minutes.
  • After the cake is cool, slice it into 4 equal layers.
  • Fill each layer, level the cake on the side, and top with the frosting cream, then leave the cake in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.
  • Decorate the cake with lemon slices and serve it!


  • Makes 18 servings


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