Lemon Cake with Lemon Curd Frosting Recipe

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Homemade Lemon Cake with a middle layer of creamy lemon frosting and fresh lemon curd! Delicious and made entirely from scratch, this is one impressive cake. Yet easy enough for you to make too!

Love lemon desserts? Be sure to try out shortbread based Lemon Bars. Or whip up a batch of Lemon Crinkle Cookies!

Slice of lemon layer cake with lemon curd filling on a wooden plate.
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Why this Recipe is Best

This cake. Words hardly do it justice.

Lemon Cake has a stronghold over my heart. Okay, all lemon desserts do.

Seriously, have I mentioned how much I love lemon desserts? Has it been made clear to you all yet that I would choose a lemon treat over a rich chocolate brownie?

For instance, the only item on the hypothetical dessert buffet I’d choose over a good lemon dessert is a Rice Krispie Treat. That’s because Rice Krispie Treats and I have a bond that goes WAY back. In all other cases, lemon will win out every time.

Today’s lemon cake is based off my favorite white cake recipe and is completely from scratch.

But don’t let that scare you. Let it inspire you instead to create the best lemon cake of your life!

  • Soft, tender crumb that holds up to the frosting layers
  • Moist cake balanced with fresh flavor
  • Lemon buttercream frosting bursting with citrus flavor
  • Creamy lemon curd filling made with homemade lemon curd and lemon frosting

Does that convince you yet to at least keep reading?

Ingredient Notes

Ingredients needed to make homemade lemon cake with lemon curd filling.
  • Cake Flour. This is a must when baking white cakes (and lemon cakes). It’s how you achieve that perfect white cake texture. Read my tips on how to make cake flour if you don’t have any on hand.
  • Buttermilk. The tanginess of buttermilk not only gives flavor to this cake, but also creates a slightly porous yet fine crumb! None on hand? Use my buttermilk substitute recipe.
  • Lemons. Always use fresh lemon zest and juice for desserts. The store bought lemon juice has a terrible aftertaste in frosting. You’ll need to zest 2 lemons for the cake batter and 1 lemon for the frosting. (each lemon is about 1 Tablespoon of loosely measured zest).
  • Egg Whites. This recipe uses 5 egg whites, which is perfect because the lemon curd uses 5 egg yolks!
  • Lemon Curd. Mixing in some of the homemade lemon curd to a portion of the frosting creates and velvety smooth layer of frosting that pops with citrus flavor! You can skip the curd if you prefer, but if you want the ULTIMATE lemon cake, it’s highly recommended.

How to Make a Lemon Layer Cake

Lemon Curd. If you’ll be using lemon curd in the frosting, you’ll need to get this made and refrigerated (needs to chill for 2 hours minimum).

Step by step photos showing how to make a lemon layer cake.

Cake Layers. First prepare the 9-inch cake pans. Use my homemade cake release (or generously grease with baking spray). Set aside.

Combine the egg whites with some of the buttermilk and lemon zest. Set aside.

Beat together the butter and sugar. Add dry ingredients then slowly add in egg white mixture. Beat in remaining buttermilk. Pour into cake pans.

Bake.

Frosting. Make a batch of homemade lemon buttercream frosting.

Portion out 1 cup of the frosting and mix it in a separate bowl with 1/4 cup of the homemade lemon curd. This is your filling for the cake.

Step by step photos showing how to make lemon cake.

Assembly.

Put the bottom layer of the cake on a cake stand or serving platter. Spread the lemon curd frosting filling over this layer.

Top with the second cake layer. Spread the lemon buttercream frosting around the sides and on top of the cake. If your cake is real tender, you can do a crumb coating first (spread a thin layer, chill cake for 30 minutes, the spread remaining frosting over the chilled crumb coat).

Tips and Tricks

  • Egg Whites. It’s easier to separate your eggs when they are cold. Save those egg yolks to make lemon curd.
  • Lemon cupcakes. You can use this lemon cake to make delicious Lemon Cupcakes.
  • Plan Ahead. Because you’ve got several components to this cake, plan ahead. Make the lemon curd the day before to make things easy. You can also bake the cake layers up to 1 day in advance as well. Wrap them in plastic wrap and store at room temperature.
  • Substitutions. Swap out the lemon frosting from cream cheese frosting (with or without lemon). So good!
  • Add Cheesecake. Turn this cake into something even more spectacular. Our Lemon Cheesecake Cake recipe features a cheesecake filling that is out of this world!
  • Add Poppy Seeds. Add a pop of texture like I did with this Lemon Poppy Seed Cake recipe!
Lemon layer cake on a wooden cake plate with several slices cut.

Recipe FAQs

Can you freeze Lemon Cake?

Yes. This lemon cake freezes well. Wrap the leftover slices of cake in plastic wrap and place in airtight container (or freezer bag). Thaw in refrigerator overnight.

How do I make my cake layers level?

To make level layers of cake, you can slice the dome off the tops of a cooled cake using a serated knife. Or prevent them from doming by using bake even strips instead!

How long does lemon layer cake stay fresh?

Most layer cakes stay fresh at room temperature, if properly covered for several days.

More Lemon Recipes

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Lemon Cake with Lemon Curd Frosting Recipe

4.80 from 73 votes
By: Aimee
Homemade Lemon Cake with a middle layer of creamy lemon frosting and fresh lemon curd! Delicious and made entirely from scratch, this is one impressive cake. Yet easy enough for you to make too!
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Additional Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 40 minutes
Servings: 12 servings

Ingredients 

For the Cake:

  • 5 egg whites room temperature
  • ¾ cup buttermilk divided
  • 2 lemons zested (about 2 Tablespoons of zest)
  • ¾ cup unsalted butter softened
  • 1 ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 ½ cups cake flour
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt

For the Frosting

  • 1 cup unsalted butter softened
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 lemon zested and juiced
  • 2 Tablespoons heavy cream
  • ¼ cup lemon curd**
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Instructions 

  • To prepare cake, grease and flour two 9-inch cake pans and line bottoms with parchment paper (cut circles to fit). Set aside.
  • In a small bowl, beat egg whites, 1/4 cup of the buttermilk and lemon zest. Set aside.
  • In mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar until creamy, about 2-3 minutes. Add in dry ingredients and mix until combined. Slowly add in egg white mixture. Beat in remaining buttermilk.
  • Pour evenly into cake pans. Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 25-28 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean. Remove and cool in cake pans 5 minutes. Invert onto a wire rack and cool completely before frosting.
  • For the frosting, beat butter for 3-5 minutes until pale in color. Add powdered sugar, lemon zest and lemon juice (about 2 Tbsp from fresh lemon). Don’t add the heavy cream yet. Beat for 3-5 minutes until fluffy. Remove 1 cup of this frosting mixture. Set aside for now.
  • To the big bowl of frosting add 2 Tablespoons of heavy cream and beat an additional 2-3 minutes until light and fluffy.
  • To make the filling, take that 1 cup of the frosting and add ¼ cup of lemon curd and beat until combined.
  • To assemble, place the first layer of the cake on a server or cake platter. Gently tuck strips of parchment paper under the cake to keep the frosting off your serving dish. 
  • Spread the lemon curd frosting over the top of the cake.
  • Place the second cake layer on top of the filling and press down slightly to secure.
  • Spread the remaining frosting over the sides and the top of the cake. Remove parchment paper slips. Enjoy.

Notes

  • Lemon Curd. Use my recipe for homemade lemon curd or buy a jar from the store.
  • Egg Whites. It's easier to separate your eggs when they are cold. Save those egg yolks to make lemon curd.
  • Lemon cupcakes. You can use this lemon cake to make delicious Lemon Cupcakes.
  • Plan Ahead. Because you've got several components to this cake, plan ahead. Make the lemon curd the day before to make things easy. You can also bake the cake layers up to 1 day in advance as well. Wrap them in plastic wrap and store at room temperature.
  • Buttermilk. The tanginess of buttermilk not only gives flavor to this cake, but also creates a slightly porous yet fine crumb! None on hand? Use my buttermilk substitute recipe.
  • Freeze. This lemon cake freezes well. Wrap the leftover slices of cake in plastic wrap and place in airtight container (or freezer bag). Thaw in refrigeratore overnight.
  • How do I make my cake layers level? To make level layers of cake, you can slice the dome off the tops of a cooled cake using a serated knife. Or preven them from doming by using bake even strips instead!
  • Storage. Most layer cakes stay fresh at room temperature, if properly covered for several days.

Nutrition

Serving: 1slice, Calories: 639kcal, Carbohydrates: 93g, Protein: 5g, Fat: 29g, Saturated Fat: 18g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 9g, Cholesterol: 81mg, Sodium: 242mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 68g
Course: Cake
Cuisine: American
Did you make this recipe?Mention @shugarysweets or tag #shugarysweets!
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About Aimee

Aimee is a dessert lover (specifically rice krispie treats), workout enthusiast, self-taught foodie, and recipe creator.

Learn more about Aimee.

Affiliate Disclosure:**There may be affiliate links in this post! By clicking on them, or purchasing recommended items I may receive a small compensation. However, I only recommend products I love! Thank you for supporting Shugary Sweets! See my disclosure policy for more info**

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Posted on March 18, 2021

Comments & Reviews

  1. Can you post the original recipe where the frosting wasn’t part of the cake? It was a crumb topping on the top of the cake?

  2. 5 stars
    I made this cake for my granddaughters wedding cake. It turned out great!!! Was beautiful and delicious.

  3. I don’t know what I did wrong. I made 2 batches and followed the recipe both times and both loaves spilled over in the oven and then sunk. It tastes good (I cut it into cubes) but it has to be something I did?

  4. 5 stars
    This cake has so much flavor and a delicate texture. The curd in between layers is wonderful followed with a delicious buttercream lemon frosting.

  5. I made this exactly as written and it’s one of the best cakes I’ve ever made. It’s a family favorite now.

  6. 5 stars
    I just made this cake for the first time and it is fantastic! The lemon flavor comes through perfectly — not too much, not too little. I will be making this cake again and again. Thanks for a great recipe!

  7. I made the lemon curd yesterday and it tastes out-of-this-world delicious! It’s in the fridge

    Today I made the cake layers using gluten free flour mix It obviously wasn’t a “cake” flour, so for very cup called for in this recipe, I used 3/4 cup of the gf flour mix along with 2 tablespoons tapioca flour (also have corn allergy). Cake looks perfect as it’s cooling.

    Putting it all together tomorrow.

  8. 5 stars
    Just wow! I have just discovered your blog and love it! Can’t wait to check out more of your recipes. I just wanted to chime in to say that I love all of your visuals (because I am someone who needs visuals 😊).and I also love all your great tips! Thanks for sharing your knowledge and great recipes with all of us!!

  9. This sounds similar to a recipe I saw. However, you sliced the cake rounds in half and brushed all slices with lemon syrup (lemon juice, sugar, and water), then assembled. First or bottom half of cake top with lemon curd, second layer top with frosting, third layer top with lemon curd, and last layer top with frosting and frost sides.

  10. Can you clarify beating the egg whites with zest and buttermilk—-should egg whites be beaten to
    foamy or soft or hard peaks??????? or simply combined

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