Lemon Layer Cake with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

A luscious layer cake bursting with the bright flavor of sunshine! Fresh lemon zest and juice permeate every corner of this sweet and tart cake, from the moist crumb to the delectable cream cheese frosting.

It’s scrumptious straight from the fridge, like drinking cold, sweet lemonade on a sweltering summer day when your mouth is as parched as a desert. Similar and a whole lot better, because it’s in dessert form! And what could be better? Dessert trumps everything.

With fresh blueberries and organic coconut flakes to dress it up, this is one of the most refreshing summer cakes you can make. If you’re reading this in the middle of winter it will transport you right smack into the middle of summer. Because it is summer.  

Summer in a cake.

Lemon Layer Cake with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

Rating: 51

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cook Time: 32 minutes

Total Time: 10 minutes

Yield: 1 (8-inch) layer cake

Lemon Layer Cake with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

A luscious lemon flavored layer cake with a rich cream cheese frosting bursting with the bright flavor of lemon flavored sunshine!


2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 + 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
3 large eggs
the zest of 2 lemons (just the yellow part not the white pith)
2 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice
1 cup buttermilk
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
8 tablespoons butter, softened
the zest from 1 lemon (just the yellow part not the white pith)
1 tablespoon fresh-squeezed lemon juice
4 cups confectioners’ sugar
coconut flakes and/or blueberries, for garnish, optional


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour 2 (8-inch) round cake pans, line bottom with parchment paper if desired.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, stirring with a whisk.
  3. In a separate, large mixing bowl beat sugar and butter until fluffy about 5 minutes, beat in eggs one at a time. Beat in lemon zest and juice. Beat in flour and buttermilk in three additions, alternating between the two and beginning and ending with flour.
  4. Pour batter into prepared pans; sharply tap pans once on counter to remove air bubbles. Bake at 350°F for 32 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 minutes on a wire rack; remove from pans, continue cooling on wire rack.
  5. In a large mixing bowl beat cream cheese, butter together 3 minutes on medium speed until light and fluffy. Beat in zest and lemon juice. Beat in confectioners’ sugar a cup at a time and continue beating on medium speed about 5 minutes until thick and fluffy. Frost cake when completely cooled, store in refrigerator.

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    • Reeni says

      Hi Jo! You should be able to pipe it! I made it 3 years ago so it’s hard to remember. . . you might want to add a little more butter like 1/2 stick or even a whole stick.

  1. Irene Smalls says

    What a wonderful recipe! I am writing a children’s book Pop Pop and Me and A Recipe. The story is about a young boy and his grandfather cooking his favorite lemon cake. I would like to put your recipe in the back of the book as the recipe. I will give full credit to you as the creator of the recipe and put whatever contact information you wish. Of course, I will send you a copy of the book as a “Thank You”. Regards,

    • Reeni says

      Hi Irene! That would be ok with me. Please credit it to Reeni Pisano with my website name. I can’t wait to see read it! :-)

  2. Bea says

    Hi, this recipe looks great! I have a question though, I’m from the Philippines and buttermilk isn’t readily available here. Is there something else I can use instead of that? I heard Marie used yogurt, you think that would do? What about sour cream? Hope you could help! Really want to give this a try. Thanks :)

    Cool blog by the way!

    • Reeni says

      Thank-you Bea! Yogurt or sour cream should work fine in this! I am a big fan of using them for baking! They prevent dryness and add great flavor.

    • Virginia Wagner says

      Use 1 cup milk with 1 tablespoon lemon or vinegar. Wait 5 minutes and use as buttermilk.

    • Adriana says

      You can actually add like a tablespoon of lemon juice to plain milk and let it set on your counter for about 5 minutes and it will turn your milk into buttermilk. I love science!

      • Reeni says

        Thank you Adriana! That’s a great substitute but it isn’t really buttermilk – it’s acidified milk. True buttermilk has active cultures in it, is a little thicker than regular milk and a whole lot more flavorful.

  3. Marie says

    I’ve made this cake several times now and it’s always a big hit. It was used as my wedding cake and the guests LOVED it.. The only changes I have made are less powdered sugar in the frosting and plain yogurt instead of buttermilk..

  4. Krista says

    I made this cake last night and it was wonderful! I was too lazy to make a layer cake so I baked it in a 9 x 13 pan and we had a sheet cake. I also only used 2 cups of sugar in the frosting but added extra lemon juice. I also added the juice of 2 lemons to the cake batter. This is definitely a recipe I will make again!!

  5. Amber says

    Amazing cake! Exactly what my lemon craving needed. And people are still talking about this frosting. Thanks for sharing!!!

  6. Mai linh Tran says

    Let me first say, I usually don’t write reviews but I made this cake last night and it was absolutely amazing! It’s perfectly moist, not heavy, or greasy. I would describe it as light, fluffy, and the perfect amount of lemon.
    The one thing I would change is the lemon juice in the frosting because it made it a little runny, otherwise this is definitely a five out of five!

  7. Pjsister says

    Dear Cinnamon GirlI just finished  making this lemon cake – it is ridiculously delicious. The cake is moist and lemony. I garnished mine with coconut  and since I accidentally tore one of the layers- I used a reduced guava jelly syrup between layers to keep the crumbs and bottom layer intact. I like this recipe very much because the proportions seem reasonable (ie. not 8 eggs and one lb. of butter or something for a cake) and the ingredients listed are things one can find with relative ease. This one is such a keeper! Brilliant. 

    • Norma says

      Sounds so yummy!! Can this recipe be doubled and how does it bake in large pans (over 9 inch)?

      • Reeni says

        Hi Norma! I never doubled the recipe so I can’t answer that one. It should be fine in a 9×13. If you experiment with different sizes I appreciate you letting me know so I can make a note of it for others. Have a great day!

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