This Lemon Cake has a beautifully soft sponge and is bursting with zingy lemon flavour. The two layers are filled and topped with fresh lemon buttercream and cream swirls. My recipe uses easy to find cheap ingredients and the cake is a joy to bake!
In fact, this is exactly the same recipe and method as my Victoria Sponge but with lemon zest and fresh lemon juice. Good, fresh lemons are available just about anywhere so there's no need to use lemon extract. For this recipe and also my lemon buttercream, fresh is better than extract (and cheaper too!).
Jump to the bottom of the page for the recipe or read on for all my tips on how to make a perfect lemon cake. Don't forget to watch the recipe video above to help you.
There's something very special about a delightful lemon sponge with lemon buttercream - it would make an amazing birthday cake. But honestly, it's so good you really don't need a particular occasion to try it!
So, how do you make a moist lemon cake from scratch? You'll be pleased to know this is a very straightforward recipe that uses basic easy to get hold of ingredients.
It's for two layers baked in two 8" inch round cake tins. However, this recipe is easily adaptible and could be be made smaller or larger, as a loaf cake, square cake or even a traybake.
The recipe is brilliantly versatile and it's one you'll make again and again.
For all my tips on making a perfect sponge cake have a look at this Victoria Sponge recipe.
All-in-one method versus creaming method
I don't recommend the all-in-one method for this cake, however, this recipe does only use one bowl but we won't be adding all the ingredients at the same time.
I prefer the creaming method when making a lemon cake. One of the reasons I don't like the all-in-one method is that it really does depend on the butter being very soft. I'm not a fan of adding the flour at the same time as all the other ingredients because this method can result in a denser cake.
You will get a much more tender and soft crumb by gently folding the flour in after the butter, sugar and eggs have been creamed and beaten together.
By folding the flour into the mixture we don't knock out all the air that has already been incorporated into the cake batter resulting in a much lighter cake.
Why add baking powder to self-raising flour?
You will notice that despite using self-raising flour for this recipe I have also added two teaspoons of baking powder.
Self-raising flour already contains baking powder and while that's usually enough to give a good rise, the extra baking powder in this recipe makes a big difference.
When I was testing and perfecting my sponge cakes, I baked one cake using self-raising flour and the other with self-raising flour and additional baking powder.
You can see the results for yourself.
The sponge on the right had the added baking powder, it was taller and much more bouncy than the one without it.
I've kept it simple and used lemon buttercream between the two layers of the cake and also covered the top of the cake with it. I didn't add it this time, but a layer of lemon curd before the lemon buttercream is to die for!
To decorate the top of the cake I piped swirls of fresh cream but you can use any leftover buttercream if you want to, or you can leave it plain.
I have a step by step recipe post explaining how to make delicious lemon buttercream. There's also a video to help you make perfectly smooth and tasty buttercream every time.
Please note: the ranunculus flowers are artificial and for decoration only. Ranunculus are not edible!
Lemon Cake Q&A
Yes, or you can use margarine in place of butter.
Fresh lemon juice adds a citrusy flavour. The acidity of lemon juice can sometimes diminish the effects of the baking powder. When extra baking powder is added alongside lemon juice the resulting cakes still rise well.
Lemon buttercream is a perfect partner for lemon cake. A lemon flavour cake also works really well with blueberry, raspberry, coconut or even chocolate flavour!
This cake is zingy, zesty and bursting with fresh lemon flavour. It isn't at all sour.
A cake with buttercream can be kept at room temperature in a cake tin. If you add fresh cream to decorate the cake it will need to be refrigerated.
Cake is at its best within 24 hours of baking and decorating. It will keep for 3-4 days in the refrigerator.
Lemon cake can be frozen for up to 3 months. Either wrap the whole cake in clingfilm or slice it and wrap the individual slices. To defrost, take the cake out of the freezer and allow to thoroughly defrost in the fridge.
Yes, it will make 16-18 large cupcakes.
Yes, you can but you will need to double the baking time. To turn it into a two-layer cake use a cake slicer to cut through the middle.
Absolutely! Here's a Sponge Cake Calculator that will calculate the ingredients for you and scale the recipe up or down depending on the size of your tin.
No, because it contains butter and eggs. However, it is suitable for vegetarians.
More lemon recipes you'll love
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Easy Lemon Cake
- 225 g unsalted butter softened
- 225 g caster sugar
- 4 medium eggs
- 225 g self-raising flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- zest of 2 lemons
- juice of 2 lemons
- Preheat the oven to 180ºc/160º fan/Gas 4/350ºF Grease and line two 8" (20cm) round loose-bottomed cake tins.
- Put the soft butter (225g) into a large mixing bowl, add the caster sugar (225g) and use a handheld electric mixer to cream together until light and fluffy.
- Add the eggs to the mixing bowl, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
- Place a sieve over the mixing bowl and sift in the flour (225g) and baking powder (2tsps).
- Use a large metal spoon to gently fold the ingredients together. Take care not to overmix.
- Add the grated lemon zest and lemon juice to the mixing bowl and gently fold through the cake batter.
- Divide the mixture evenly between the two tins. Smooth the top of the mixture with the back of a spoon and gently tap the cake tin on the work surface to release any air bubbles.
- Bake in the oven for 25 minutes. When baked, the cakes will shrink away from the sides of the tin slightly and will feel springy to the touch. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the cake tins before turning out.
- When the cakes are cool, release them from the cake tins. Fill and decorate with lemon buttercream (recipe link in post and notes).
- The eggs should weigh close to 225g if you weigh them in their shells
- To get even layers you can weigh the cake mixture when you divide it into the cake tins. Mine weighed approx 425g each.
- See Lemon Buttercream recipe for filling and topping.
- To decorate, I whipped 300ml of double cream and piped swirls of it on top of the lemon cake using a large open star nozzle.