Simple Lemon Cake

Whole lemons are the base of this rich, citrusy batter. Precooking the fruit removes the pucker and makes for an intensely flavored cake.

  • Prep:
  • Total Time:
  • Servings: 10
Simple Lemon Cake


  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick), room temperature, plus more for pan
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for pan
  • 1/2 pound lemons (about 2), ends removed, cut crosswise into thin slices, and seeds removed
  • Coarse salt
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Confectioners' sugar, for dusting
  • Raspberries and whipped cream (optional), for serving


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter and flour a 9-inch round cake pan (2 inches deep). In a medium saucepan, cover lemon slices with 3 cups water. Add pinch of salt, cover, and bring to a boil over high. Boil lemons, partially covered, until very tender, 15 minutes. Drain in a colander and transfer to a food processor, along with lemon juice; process until smooth. Set aside.

  2. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter on medium, 2 minutes. Gradually add granulated sugar and continue to beat until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes, scraping down bowl as needed. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition.

  3. With mixer on low, gradually add flour mixture in three additions, alternating with two additions buttermilk. Beat in vanilla, then fold in lemon mixture.

  4. Transfer batter to pan and bake until deep golden brown and a toothpick inserted in center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool in pan on a wire rack, 20 minutes. Remove cake from pan and let cool completely on rack. Dust with confectioners' sugar and serve with raspberries and cream, if desired.


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