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This Lemon Cream Cake recipe is buttery, moist, and full of fresh lemon flavor. It is drizzled generously with a fresh lemon glaze and frosted with a lemon-zested cream cheese buttercream frosting. The lemon glaze soaks into the cake making a flavorful, moist, and delicious texture. This bakery-style lemon drizzle cake was one of my most requested Amycakes Bakery recipes!
What gives a Lemon Cake a strong lemon flavor?
This cake is full of fresh lemon zest, but the fresh lemon drizzle is what heightens the lemon flavor and makes the cake even moister. This made-from-scratch cake also has a delicious buttery flavor from the salted butter. It reminds me of a buttery lemon cookie.
I’m a big advocate for easier fruit alternatives when I know they produce the same or superior results. (For instance, my very fresh tasting Ultimate Fresh Strawberry Cake is made with frozen unsweetened strawberries, and my Berries ‘n’ Cream Cake is made with a frozen berry blend). But for this cake, you really can’t beat the taste of fresh lemon juice and fresh lemon zest. So go ahead and grab a bag of lemons—we’ll be using 5 large lemons in the cake if you make the optional garnishes. Since lemons vary in size, I recommend measuring out the lemon juice in measuring cups, and measuring the zest on a kitchen scale (if you have one).
How to Make a Lemon Drizzle Cake
To make this lemon drizzle cake, we’ll be poking a million holes in the cake and spreading a lemon drizzle on top so that it soaks into every crevice. This creates a very moist cake and enhances the lemon flavor. While the lemon cake is baking, make the easy lemon glaze by whisking together powdered sugar and fresh lemon juice. Once the cake is baked but while it is still hot, poke holes in the cake 1/2 inch apart with a paring knife. Then drizzle the lemon glaze over the cake until it melts all the way into the cake.
Bake this Lemon Cream Cake in a Sheet Pan
Like all my bakery-style cake recipes, I recommend using the Cut and Stack Method to bake and layer this cake. Spread all the cake batter in a half sheet pan, then cut out the cake layers with cake rings. In addition to saving time, you can use the yummy cake scraps to make delicious lemon cake truffles to decorate the cake. This recipe makes a 6″ cake baked in a 1/4 sheet pan. Or double the recipe and use one half sheet pan to make an 8″ Lemon Cake as seen in my Lemon Cake Recipe Video. For detailed instructions on the Cut and Stack Method, including why I suggest freezing my cakes, see my 5 Easy Steps for Baking and Layering Cakes Like a Pro.
- How to Bake and Layer Cakes Like a Pro: 5 Easy Steps
- Instant Clearjel: A Magical Bakery Ingredient
- Seven Bakery Secrets to Incredibly Moist Cakes Every Time
Lemon Cake Decorations
To decorate this cake as described in the recipe, we’ll be turning the cake scraps into delicious lemon truffles. Each bite of cake truffle has a burst of lemon flavor. (You can also forget about the cake truffles and just eat the cake scraps–I won’t tell!🙂 ) We’ll also be making some simple oven dried lemon garnishes. If you don’t want to go through these extra steps, I’ve bought these Freeze Dried Lemon Slices as a pretty lemon cake decoration in the past.
What’s the Secret Bakery Ingredient in this Lemon Cake Recipe?
Instant Clearjel (which is simply modified cornstarch that you can use at home) is a bakery ingredient that I use in nearly all my made-from-scratch bakery recipes. You’ve probably used it before without knowing it, as “modified cornstarch” is the second ingredient in most Instant Pudding Mixes! It makes this lemon cake moister with a wonderfully soft texture, and it makes the lemon-zested frosting thicker. While it’s more known in commercial baking, it has some amazing benefits in home baking as I describe in Instant Clearjel: a Magical Bakery Ingredient. If you still want to try this recipe without it, you can check out my recommended Instant Clearjel Substitutes.
⭐ Serving and Storing Amycakes Bakes Cakes ⭐ Nearly all of my cakes are best at room temperature! They’ll still taste yummy out of the fridge, but will be firm and a different texture due to all the yummy butter in the cake and buttercream. I want to make sure you enjoy the soft and moist cake texture that is intended by eating the cake at room temperature cake. You can refrigerate the cake after decorating it, but allow it to come back to room temperature 2-3 hours before serving. (Keep in mind the buttercream can melt in warm conditions). I keep my leftover cake out of the fridge for up to 24 hours, but I’ll refrigerate or freeze anything that won’t get eaten within that time.
I hope you enjoy this Lemon Cream Cake recipe! If you’d like to try a different variation of it, you can fill the lemon cake with one of my fresh fruit compotes for a Strawberry Lemonade Cake or a Triple Berry Lemonade Cake! I look forward to hearing what you think of this recipe! 🙂
Thanks for Reading. ❤️
Lemon Cream Cake with Lemon Drizzle: a Bakery Recipe
Watch the Recipe Video (I’m making a 2x batch):
- 1 ½ cups All-Purpose Flour (I use Gold Medal)
- 2 Tablespoons Instant Clearjel (See Note #1)
- 1 ½ teaspoons Baking Powder
- 1 teaspoon(s) Baking Soda
- ¾ teaspoon(s) Salt
- 1 cup(s) Sugar
- 1 stick(s) (4 ounces) Salted Butter at room temperature
- ¼ cup Vegetable Oil
- 2 Egg yolks
- 2 Egg Whites
- ¼ teaspoon Cream of Tartar
Lemon Glaze Drizzle Ingredients
- 3 Tablespoons Fresh Lemon Juice from about 1.5–2 lemons
- 1 ¼ cups Powdered Sugar
Cake Truffle Ingredients (optional)
- Zest from 1 large Lemon (See Note #4)
- 2 tsp Sugar
- 1/2 cup White Chocolate Chips
- 1/2 cup “Bright White” or “Super White” Candy Melts (or substitute with more white chocolate chips—it just will be ivory in color)
- 1 Tbsp + 1 tsp Vegetable Oil
Lemon-zested Buttercream Ingredients
- 4 ounces Cream Cheese
- 1 ½ sticks (6 oucnes) Salted Butter at room temperature
- 2 Tablespoons shortening
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- 3 Tablespoons Instant Clearjel (see Note #1)
- 1 ½ teaspoons Pure Vanilla Extract
- 1 ½ teaspoons Lemon Extract I use Durkee Pure Lemon
- 4 g Lemon Zest, from about 1 large Lemon(s) (See Note #4)
- 1 ½ teaspoons Light Corn Syrup
Oven Dried Lemon Garnish Ingredients (optional)
- 1 Lemon, thinly sliced
- 2 Tbsp Sugar
- 1 Tbsp Instant Clearjel
White Ganache Drizzle (optional)
- 1/4 cup White Chocolate Chips
- 1/4 cup “Bright White” or “Super White” Candy Melts (or substitute with more white chocolate chips—it just will be ivory in color)
- 2 Tbsp Heavy Cream
Make the Lemon Cake
- Preheat Oven to 325 degrees. Line 1/4 Sheet pan with parchment paper, and then spray the bottom (on top of the parchment) and sides of the sheet pan with cooking spray.
- Sift Dry Ingredients in a bowl and then whisk until well blended.
- Combine and stir Wet Ingredients and 6 g Lemon Zest in a separate bowl or pitcher.
- With a stand mixer (preferred) or handheld mixer, cream sugar and salted butter together until creamy and fluffy. Add oil and beat until incorporated. Add 2 egg yolks and cream until well blended, scraping sides of the bowl as needed.
- On low speed, alternate adding Dry ingredients and Wet ingredients to the Creamed Ingredients, a little at a time. I do 1/3 Dry, 1/3 Wet, and so on, adding one-third at a time and blending on low after each addition. Continue to mix just until the batter looks well blended and smooth (avoid overbeating). Scrape sides of the bowl as needed.
- Using a whip attachment and a clean bowl, whip the 2 egg whites and cream of tartar until stiff peaks form. (Make sure your bowl and beaters are clean and free from grease so that the whites will whip).
- Carefully fold the Whipped Whites into the cake batter, one-half of the whites at a time. The batter is ready when no egg white streaks remain and it should look smooth and uniform.
- Spread into prepared pan and make sure the batter is evenly distributed. An offset spatula works well for this.
- Bake on the middle or top rack (avoid bottom rack) of preheated 325-degree oven for 18 minutes, then turn the oven down to 300 degrees. Set the timer for an additional 5-8 minutes. Check the cake at this point. If it is jiggly at all when lightly touching the top of the cake, continue baking for 1-6 more minutes. The cake is done when a paring knife or toothpick comes out clean when stuck quickly in the cake. A couple moist crumbs stuck on the knife are fine, but they shouldn't look wet.
Make the Lemon Glaze and Drizzle the Cake
- While the cake bakes, whisk the Lemon Glaze Drizzle Ingredients together until smooth.
- With a sharp paring knife, repeatedly poke the baked cake all the way through to the bottom of the cake. Poke the entire sheet pan with cuts 1/2 inch apart (I recommend watching the recipe video). Drizzle the glaze over the hot cake and quickly spread it evenly with an offset spatula or silicone pastry brush. The glaze will soak into the hot cake.
- Either follow the Baker's Shortcut (Note #3) or choose your round cake size using the Cut and Stack method (Note #2). Leave the cake in the sheet pan, and using a slight sawing motion, cut the fully cooled cake into your desired cake size with cake rings (You can use a knife and the cake rings as a guide for any halve pieces that you cut.)
- If making the cake truffles for decorations, pull some of the extra cake scraps out of the sheet pan (leave a few extra scraps in the pan in case you need them when layering your cake.)
- Leave the cake layers in the pan and wrap thoroughly in plastic wrap. Freeze the cake pan for at least 2 hours or overnight. (You can even bake the cake up to a week ahead of time and freeze). The cake will be much easier to layer if it is frozen. To wrap the cake, place another sheet of parchment on top of the cake (this will prevent the plastic wrap from sticking to the cake), and wrap the whole pan with plastic wrap. (I pull the plastic wrap out and place the pan on top of it. Then I wrap 2-3 ways horizontally and one way vertically so that there are two layers of wrap on all sides of the pan including the bottom).
Make the Cake Truffles (optional)
- Mash the reserved lemon cake scraps into a smooth dough. Divide and roll the dough into 1" balls (I use a 1/2 oz scoop to divide the dough). Place the balls in the fridge for at least 2 hours or overnight. Truffles are easiest to dip when refrigerated.
- Mix the lemon zest from 1 lemon and 2 tsp sugar together. Set aside.
- Combine the white chocolate chips and candy melts, and microwave at 50% power until melted. (I like to use a microwave-safe container with square edges so that I can dip the truffles out of this same container. A square edge is easier to dip out of than a bowl, because you can tilt the container and dip more truffles as your chocolate dip gets low.)
- Once the chocolate is just melted, add the vegetable oil and whisk until combined. Avoid overheating the chocolate. If the dip is overheated, it tends to separate on the cold truffle.
- Using a toothpick, dip each refrigerated truffle into the white chocolate dip, lightly scraping the bottom edges of each truffle on the sides of the container after dipping. Place each truffle on a plate or tray with a layer of parchment paper, then immediately sprinkle some of the sugared lemon zest on top of the truffle so that it sticks before the truffle dip dries.
- Place completed truffles in the fridge so that they may harden.
Make Lemon-Zested Cream Cheese Buttercream
- Whisk the powdered sugar and Instant Clearjel together until well-blended. Set aside.
- Using a stand mixer (preferred) or handheld mixer and a large bowl, beat the cream cheese until broken up and softened.
- Add the room temperature salted butter and continue to beat, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed.
- Add the shortening and lemon zest and beat and scrape the sides until there are no lumps.
- While the mixer is on low, slowly add the powdered sugar mixture.
- Add the corn syrup, pure vanilla, and lemon extract. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Then beat the buttercream on high for two-three minutes. This will add air into the buttercream and make it light and fluffy. The Instant Clearjel will cause the buttercream to thicken slightly during the next 10 minutes as it sits.
Make White Ganache (optional)
- Combine all white ganache ingredients and heat in the microwave at 50% power for 20-30 second increments. Whisk for 30 seconds to one minute in between each heat. (It should only take two to three heats in the microwave. Lots of whisking will melt your white chocolate and candy melts faster and prevent them from overcooking in the microwave).
Make the Oven Dried Lemons (optional)
- Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Place a sheet of parchment paper on a sheet pan or cookie sheet. Slice the lemon into very thin (about 1/8 inch) slices. Pat them dry on both sides with paper towels.
- Whisk sugar and instant clearjel together and place on a plate or shallow bowl.
- Dip each lemon slice on both sides into the sugar mixture, pressing the mixture into the lemon slices on all sides.
- Place the lemon slices onto the lined sheet pan. Bake in the preheated 250-degree oven for 40-50 minutes or until they appear dried and shiny with a stained-glass appearance. Baking time will vary based on the thickness of the slices–keep an eye on them toward the end of baking so they don't overbrown. Move the baked lemon slices to a clean piece of parchment paper so they don't stick to the surface. Allow to cool. Leave at room temperature uncovered if serving within 24 hours. Otherwise, refrigerate the slices on parchment paper in Tupperware in a single layer. Refrigerated lemons will be stickier, but they still make a pretty garnish. Oven Dried Lemons are meant to be a decoration only, as they are quite tart.
Frost the Cake
- The easiest way to layer the cake is to layer the cake from frozen the day before you plan to serve it. If serving the cake the same day you are layering it, use refrigerated cake layers instead of frozen. Piece together the bottom layer, filling in with cake scraps if needed. You can use the cake ring as a guide (watch the Lemon Cake Recipe Video).
- Fill the three cake layers with around 1/4 inch of buttercream. I recommend frosting a thin crumb coat of buttercream on the outside of the cake which will catch all the crumby edges, then allow it to set up in the freezer for about 10 minutes until the buttercream is firm. An offset icing spatula (I use the small and medium-size on all my cakes) helps with this. Then spread on the second layer of buttercream and decorate as desired.
- If using, microwave the reserved ganache on 50% power until thin, and drizzle down the sides of the cake using a spoon or squeeze bottle. There is enough buttercream to frost an extra-tall row of rosettes around the top of the cake using a pastry bag and 1M star tip (or get creative with a different design!).
- Decorate the top of the cake with lemon cake truffles and sugared lemons, if desired.
- You can let the cake set up in the fridge, but remove it from the fridge 1-3 hours before serving so it can come back to room temperature. This cake has the best texture at room temperature. Enjoy!
3 tsp= 1 Tbsp
4 Tbsp = 1/4 cup
- Read my article Instant Clearjel: a Magical Little-Known Bakery Ingredient to see why I think this ingredient is worth having in your pantry. Instant Clearjel must always be whisked thoroughly with other dry ingredients before being added to wet ingredients to avoid clumping. I have tested this recipe with the following Instant Clearjel brands: Hoosier Hill Farm, Prepared Pantry, and Ingredion. Make sure what you purchase is labeled as “Instant.” Cooktype Clearjel is a different product that does not work the same in cakes.
- When baking cakes in a sheet pan, the cake bakes more evenly (flatter on top and with no dark edges), and you get to choose your cake size after baking! With a 1x batch in a 1/4 Sheet Pan you can make a three-layer 6″ cake (two full rounds, one pieced round from two half-circles) or several little cakelets. With a 2x batch in a 1/2 Sheet Pan you can make a three-layer 8″ cake (two full rounds, one pieced round from two half-circles), an extra tall six-layer 6″ cake (5 full rounds, one pieced round from two half-circles), TWO 3-layer 6″ cakes (eat one now and freeze one for later. 🙂 Or have a baking party with a friend and you each get a cake!) or several little Cakelets using a 4″ cake ring or 3″ or 2″ round cookie cutters. You can also choose to bake in sheet-cake pans or round pans. View the pan chart in the article Half-Batches and Cake Pans: Everything You Need to Know.
- BAKER’S SHORTCUT:
1). Make a sheet cake or little Cakelets instead! Once the cake is fully drizzled and cooled, spread the buttercream on top and top with lemon zest for an easy sheet-pan cake. (You likely won’t need as much buttercream for a sheet cake and can do a 0.5x batch of buttercream). For Cakelets, cut the cake into 4″ or 3″ rounds using cake rings or cookie cutters. Stack two cakelets together with a layer of buttercream in between and on top (I use a piping bag and 1M star tip for this). The cake will be soft and delicate when at room temperature, so if you have the time I recommend that after it cools, stick the cake in the freezer until the cake is cold before cutting your Cakelets. Serve at room temperature.
- Zest only the yellow part of the lemon peel–the white part is bitter. A lemon zester works well for this.
9-16-21: The original recipe made an 8″ cake in a 1/2 sheet pan. All my recipes now start with small batches, so it now makes a 6″ cake in a 1/4 sheet pan. Press the “2x” if you’d like to double the recipe for an 8″ cake in a 1/2 sheet pan.