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Lemon Cake


This cheery lemon cake is perfect for festive occasions. Top it off with our Whipped Frosting that's the perfect light and fluffy complement to this moist cake.

  • Prep:
  • Total Time:
  • Servings: 12

Source: Everyday Food, May 2009


  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pans
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for pans
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs plus 3 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup low-fat buttermilk
  • 1 lemon, thinly sliced and seeded
  • Whipped Frosting


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour two 8-by-2-inch cake pans, tapping out excess flour. In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and lemon zest.

  2. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and 1 1/2 cups sugar until light and fluffy. With mixer on low, beat in eggs and yolks, one at a time. Beat in 2 tablespoons lemon juice. Alternately beat in flour mixture and buttermilk beginning and ending with flour mixture; mix just until combined.

  3. Divide batter between pans; smooth tops. Bake until cakes pull away from sides of pans, 32 to 35 minutes. Let cool in pans 10 minutes. Run a knife around edges of pans and invert cakes onto a wire rack.

  4. While cakes are baking, bring remaining 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup water to a boil in a saucepan. Add lemon slices and simmer 25 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer lemon slices to a waxed-paper-lined plate. Stir remaining 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice into syrup.

  5. Using a toothpick, poke holes in warm cakes on rack. Brush with lemon syrup. Let cool completely. Prepare frosting, substituting 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice for vanilla extract. Frost cooled cakes and top with candied lemon slices.


To make the recipe Martha prepared with John Barricelli on "The Martha Stewart Show," follow these instructions immediately before frosting the cake: Place one cake, bottom side up, on a cake stand. Tuck strips of parchment paper underneath. Using an offset-spatula or table knife, spread top with lemon curd. Top with remaining cake; continue frosting top and sides as directed.

Cook's Notes

When making frosting, substitute 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice for the vanilla extract.

Reviews Add a comment

  • CakenGifts12
    20 MAY, 2017
    "I love this recipe! Excellent taste"THANKS for sharing GOOD Recipe.
  • cboucher31
    15 MAY, 2017
    This is by far the best lemon cake I've ever tasted! I made one on a Tuesday and it was gone on Wednesday (only 4 in our household) and I HAD to make another one! NEVER has a cake gone so quickly and been requested for another so rapidly! If you follow the directions precisely you will not be disappointed. I've made this cake so many times now, and it comes out perfectly every single time! When invited to a get-together and I ask "what do you want me to bring?", they always say bring the lemon cake please!
  • jeniandjonimae
    7 MAY, 2017
    I haven't even made this cake yet, but can tell by the comments on here that it is a beautiful cake, BUT THAT IS ONLY IF YOU LIKE 'LEMON ' CAKES! I MUST say that the negative comments must come from those who 'think' that they are following a recipe and simply don't know the rules for 'baking'!!! Such as one who claimed the cake was dry, tasteless ,and too dense. Plus, it left a bad taste ??? In their mouths and it was thrown in trash. I would suggest that any cake can make those claims if one does not know the secrets of taking a cake out of the oven at the precise moment. Even 1 minute can make a huge difference in the texture of any cake. Also, with a 'lemon' recipe using grated lemon, knowing HOW to grate lemon peel can be bitter by even a small bit of grating too deeply past the out peeling., etc. Suggestion: practice makes perfect.
  • MS11801247
    29 APR, 2017
    So many seemed to have a problem making this cake. I followed the recipe exactly and it came out amazing - a moist, tender lemonly crumb
  • writesewgmail
    26 MAR, 2017
    Loved this cake! I made it for a party and it was a big hit, with lemon buttercream frosting and sprinkles. What a great recipe! Will be making this again.
  • mybonesaolcom
    27 JUL, 2016
    Followed the recipe exactly. Cake was awful. Most at the party through it away. Cake was dry, tasteless and way too dense. Candied lemons left a bad taste in your mouth that could not be washed out. Trust me skip this one.
  • LHuf
    11 MAR, 2015
    Made this cake as recipe directed. Cake came from the oven looking rubbery, but not brown, leaving sides of pan. Toothpick inserted it tested done. I cooled and frosted. Cake looked beautiful with lemons and yellow sugar sprinkled on top of whipped frosting. Had difficulty cutting. Texture looked like a pound cake, but heavy and dense. The taste was good. Several guest tried it. Over half went in trash. Can't blame it on baking skills or oven. 2 other cakes were beautiful and delicious.
  • Elianna Meneses
    26 AUG, 2014
    The centigrades for the oven baking most be wrong! My cake is completely burned
  • farialsabrina
    7 AUG, 2014
    Loved it. Tried few other recipes and finally found the one I really love. Used it to make cupcakes with cream cheese icing, everyone loved it. Thanks for the tutorial and the recipe.
  • kranapple
    14 APR, 2014
    This cake is moist and dense. I would not use the words "light" or "fluffy" to describe it. However my oven may be to fault for that. I had to cook it at a much lower temp to prevent burning. I will note that all of my ingredients were fresh as I have not baked much in this oven and had nothing on hand. I paired it with a lemon cream cheese frosting and it was delicious.