Lemon Crunch Cake

Lemon Crunch Cake
Photo: Will Anderson
Prep Time:
35 mins
Total Time:
3 hrs 5 mins

Tender, lemony butter cake lies beneath a crisp, crunchy, crackling shell for a delicious contrast in every bite of this cake.


  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan

  • 2 ½ cups sifted cake flour (not self-rising), plus more for pan

  • 2 teaspoons baking powder

  • Pinch of coarse salt

  • ¾ cup whole milk

  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

  • 1 ⅓ cups granulated sugar, plus ¼ cup for topping

  • Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon, plus 1 packed tablespoon thin strips lemon zest

  • 3 large egg whites, room temperature

  • 2 tablespoons coarse sanding sugar

  • Lightly sweetened whipped cream, for serving


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brush an 8-by-2-inch square cake pan with butter. Line with parchment, leaving a 2-inch overhang on all sides; brush parchment with butter and dust with flour, tapping out excess.

  2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Stir together milk and vanilla in another bowl. Beat butter on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar in a steady stream and beat, scraping down sides of bowl as needed, until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in finely grated lemon zest and juice.

  3. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in 3 batches, alternating with milk mixture; beat until just combined.

  4. In a large bowl, whisk egg whites until soft peaks form. Fold half into batter, then fold in remainder. Transfer to prepared pan, smoothing top. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup granulated sugar, julienned lemon zest, and sanding sugar.

  5. Bake until a tester inserted in center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Let cool in pan on a wire rack 30 minutes. Using parchment, carefully transfer to rack; let cool completely. Slice with a serrated knife, dollop with whipped cream, and serve.

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