Remember Mom's heavenly angel food cake? Ours has the same ethereal texture (due to egg whites) but with a bright burst of lemon flavor, thanks to fresh juice and zest. Fluffy citrus cream frosting and pretty candied lemon "daffodils" make it an even more memorable dessert.

Martha Stewart Living, May 2009


Read the full recipe after the video.

Recipe Summary

Makes one 10-inch cake


For the Cake
For the Lemon Cream
For the Candied Lemon-Peel Flowers


Instructions Checklist
  • Make the cake: Preheat oven to 325 degrees, with rack in lower third of oven. Sift flour and 1/2 cup sugar into a bowl.

  • Whisk whites with a mixer on medium speed until frothy, about 1 minute. Add lemon zest and juice, cream of tartar, vanilla, and salt; continue whisking until soft peaks form, about 2 1/2 minutes. With mixer running, gradually add remaining cup sugar.

  • Increase speed to medium-high; continue whisking until firm, not stiff, peaks form, about 7 minutes. Sprinkle whites with 1/3 of the flour-sugar mixture. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold to combine. Sprinkle remaining flour-sugar mixture over whites in 2 additions; gently fold to combine.

  • Transfer batter to a 10-inch angel food cake pan with legs. Gently run a knife through the center of the batter to remove any air bubbles. Bake until a tester inserted into center comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes.

  • Remove pan from oven, and invert onto its cooling legs (if your tube pan doesn't have legs, invert it over the neck of a wine, or similarly shaped, bottle to cool); let cool, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Run a knife around the inner and outer edges of cake to remove. Invert onto a serving platter. (Use a knife to separate cake from bottom of pan.) Let cool on a wire rack. Unfrosted cake can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 days.

  • Make the lemon cream: Prepare an ice-water bath. Whisk lemon juice, sugar, flour, and salt in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil; whisk constantly for 1 minute, until it thickens. Transfer to a heatproof bowl set in ice-water bath to cool completely, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, whisk cream and lemon zest with a mixer on medium speed until medium peaks form, about 3 minutes. Gently fold whipped cream into juice mixture in thirds. Refrigerate lemon cream, up to overnight.

  • Make the candied lemon-peel flowers: Combine sugar and water in a large saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Bring to a simmer. Meanwhile, using a vegetable peeler, peel 3 lemons to create 6 long strips (at least 5 inches long and about 1/2 inch wide). Remove pith from strips using a paring knife. Cut tops and bottoms off remaining 3 lemons; cut each in half lengthwise. Remove flesh. Cut out 6 flowers from the peels using a 2-inch flower-shaped cookie cutter and remove pith; cut indentations into petals for definition. Punch a hole in the center of each flower using a 1/4-inch plain round piping tip.

  • Add lemon-peel strips and flowers to the syrup. Gently simmer until translucent and tender, about 35 minutes. Remove peels from syrup using a slotted spoon, and transfer to a wire rack set over a parchment. Let dry slightly, about 30 minutes.

  • Trim strips to 5-inch lengths, and roll each to form centers of flowers; fit into flower holes and let stand on wire rack until slightly dry but still sticky, about 30 minutes.

  • Frost cake with lemon cream. Garnish with candied flowers. Serve.

Cook's Notes

This recipe has been amended to reflect several changes to the original version from the May 2009 issue of Martha Stewart Living.


Reviews (6)

136 Ratings
  • 5 star values: 29
  • 4 star values: 42
  • 3 star values: 43
  • 2 star values: 18
  • 1 star values: 4
Rating: Unrated
I was happily surprised by the intensity of the lemon cream flavour, I'd been worried that the cream would dominate and it would just be vaguely lemony but it's a lovely strong sweet-tart froth. To the person who had trouble getting peaks, what was the weather like that day? High barometric pressure and electrified air can play merry hell with eggs. Just try making mayonnaise during an electrical storm, it's impossible.
Rating: Unrated
This cake is phenomenal!! I have a ton of lemons from my tree in the backyard and wanted to make something light and lemony. It does take 12 egg whites, but it is TOTALLY worth it! I am only rating the cake, not the creme frosting. Instead, I made a glaze with fresh squeezed lemon juice and powdered sugar, which added a nice sweet/tartness to the light lemony flavor of the cake. I have never made an angel food cake in a pre-heated oven before, and was a little worried, but it came out wonderful.
Rating: 5 stars
Best cake I have ever made ! Everyone loved it (Even someone who hates lemons) ! It melted away on my tongue like cotton candy and the sour lemon tasty was just perfect.
Rating: Unrated
This cake is great, but even with an electric stand mixer I had to beat it for almost 30 min to get peaks, not sure if I did something wrong...but leave yourself lots of time!
Rating: Unrated
This is the first homemade food cake I have made and it was very simple and very very delicious! I was worried it would either have too much or too little lemon but the cream balances this cake very well. The next day I made this for another family and they loved it too! Great recipe-this will be kept in the recipe box for sure!
Rating: Unrated
I made this one and liked it - my results here: