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My hope is to inspire you to be fearless in the kitchen, to try new things, to take the time to make things the homemade way and most importantly, to have fun doing it!

Lemon Layer Cake with Vanilla Bean Frosting

If you’ve been following me for a while, you’re probably aware of my feelings regarding lemon desserts.  In the past, they were totally negative.  Over time, I’ve really grown to appreciate lemony sweets and such but even so, they are almost never my first choice.  Give me a super chocolatey something or fruity dessert any day.  Lemon is essentially a bottom-tier choice for me personally, and it only ranks above things I just don’t like such as anything involving mint.  However, a few months back I made a couple of cakes with lemon tiers.  I didn’t have a go-to lemon cake at the time so I adpated my favorite vanilla bean cake recipe to be lemon flavored instead.  The funny thing was that when all the cakes were leveled and Ben and I snacked on the scraps, we found that the lemon was our favorite flavor of all.  It was something to keep in the back of my mind, for sure, but I still wasn’t about to whip up a lemon cake for no reason.  I still have lots of chocolate to eat after all.

When I asked my dad what kind of cake he would like for his birthday this year, I was expecting his usual order – German chocolate.  Imagine my surprise when (1) he really thought hard about his decision, and (2) he asked for something lemony.  He’s always liked lemon desserts but they have never trumped German chocolate before.  I was excited at the prospect of doing something new, and getting to further develop the concept of a lemon layer cake.

Die-hard lemon lovers would likely use lemon curd for the filling between the layers and though I considered this, I ultimately decided to go a different direction because lemon curd is typically unappetizing to me.  I liked the idea of a lemon mousse type of filling so I search high and low for something that would work.  After scouring my cookbooks and the internet, nothing I found caught my eye so I decided to wing it.  What I came up with was a light, lemony whipped mascarpone filling that ended up being Ben’s favorite part of the cake.  A lemon frosting would have been a logical choice, but instead I opted for a vanilla bean buttercream to provide a complimenting contrast (and, let’s be honest, because I can’t resist seeing those gorgeous flecks of vanilla bean in creamy white frosting).   The combination of the soft lemony cake layers, whipped lemon cream filling and the vanilla bean frosting made for a cake that thrilled both the lemon lovers and the lemon just-okay-ers.  Lemon was definitely the star without being in-your-face strong.  I garnished the cake with candied lemon slices as well as mint leaves, and they really made the presentation.  As for the birthday boy (normally not a sweet tooth), he reported that he finished the cake over the rest of the week, even enjoying a piece for breakfast one day.  I’ll call that a success.

Note: Don’t be intimidated by the candied citrus!  It takes just a couple minutes of work and adds such a nice touch.  I’ll admit I was afraid to try a piece but I actually really liked it.

Lemon Layer Cake with Vanilla Bean Frosting
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Ingredients:
For the cake:
3 cups cake flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
16 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
Zest of ½ a lemon
2 cups sugar
5 large eggs, at room temperature
1¼ cups buttermilk, at room temperature
1 tbsp. lemon extract
1 tsp. vanilla extract

For the filling:
4 oz. mascarpone or cream cheese, cold
2½ tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1¼ cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2 tsp. lemon extract
Zest of ½ a lemon
1 cup heavy cream, chilled

For the frosting:*
1½ cups plus 2 tbsp. (3 sticks plus 2 tbsp.) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
Pinch of salt
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tbsp. heavy cream

For the candied lemon slices:
1-2 whole lemons, preferably organic
1 cup sugar
1 cup water

*Note: This will make a bit more frosting than you need for the cake.  You can scale it down a bit or just have left over frosting…always a good thing in my book.

Directions:
To make the cake, preheat the oven to 350° F.  Butter and flour the edges of 3 8-inch round cake pans and shake out the excess.  Set aside.   Line the bottoms of the pans with parchment paper.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine the cake flour, baking powder and salt.  Whisk together and set aside.  Add the butter to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Add the lemon zest to the bowl of the mixer with the butter.  Beat on medium-high speed for 3 minutes, until light and creamy in color.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat for one more minute.

Add the sugar to the butter mixture, ¼ cup at a time, beating 1 minute after each addition.  Mix in the eggs one at a time until incorporated.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl after each addition.  Combine the buttermilk and the lemon and vanilla extract in a liquid measuring cup.  With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients alternately with the wet ingredients, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients and mixing just until incorporated.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix for 15 seconds longer.

Divide the batter between the prepared baking pans.  Bake until golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 20-22 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through baking.  Let cool in the pans about 10 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack and let cool completely.

To make the filling, combine the mascarpone and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer.  Beat on medium-high speed until smooth and well combined.  Mix in the confectioners’ sugar and beat on low speed until incorporated.  Blend in the lemon extract and lemon zest.  Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl and set aside.  Wipe out the mixer bowl and fit with the whisk attachment.  Add the  heavy cream to the bowl and whip on high speed until stiff peaks form, being careful not to overbeat.  Mix about a third of the whipped cream into the lemon-mascarpone mixture to lighten.  Gently fold in the remaining whipped cream until no streaks remain and the mixture is evenly blended.

To make the frosting, add the butter to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.  Whip on medium-high speed until smooth, about 1 minute.  Add the confectioners’ sugar to the bowl and mix on medium-low speed just until incorporated.  Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean pod into the bowl and add in the salt.  Continue to beat on medium-high speed until smooth, about 1-2 minutes.  Mix in the vanilla extract and heavy cream on low speed just until incorporated.  Increase the mixer speed and whip on high speed until light and fluffy, scraping down the bowl as needed, about 4 minutes.

To make the candied lemon slices, wash and dry the lemons thoroughly.  Use a sharp serrated knife to make very thin slices of lemon.  Poke out any seeds in the slices with a toothpick.  Combine the sugar and water in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.  Heat the mixture until the sugar dissolves.  Add the lemon slices to the mixture so that they are in a single layer (none overlapping), reduce the heat to medium-low and let simmer about 20 minutes, turning the slices at least once so both sides are candied.  Remove from the heat.  Store in a container with the syrup until ready to use.

(Level cake layers if necessary.)  To assemble the cake, place one of the layers on a serving platter.  Top with half of the lemon-mascarpone mixture and smooth in an even layer.  Place a second cake layer on top of the filling and top with the remaining filling.  Place the final cake layer on top.  Frost the top and sides of the assembled cake with the vanilla bean frosting.  Use a pastry bag with a decorative tip to pipe accents on the cake.  Garnish with the candied lemon slices.

Source: cake adapted from Confections of a Foodie Bride, frosting adapted from Sweetapolita

  • http://polkadotcupcakecooks.blogspot.com polkadotcupcake

    hey! I was *just* looking around for a lemon-but-not-too-lemony cake for the proliferation of lemons that I just came into possession of.. and this falls into my reader! I mostly feel the same way about lemon desserts – chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, fruit, anything is really above lemon for me as far as cake goes. But my hubs LOVES lemon, and I love him. But I want to like it too!! This looks like it’ll tick all the boxes, so thank you!!

  • http://dailylifeofadesperate30somethinggirl.blogspot.com/ Marieke

    That cake looks amazing. My girl loves anything lemon, so I think this will definitely be a great cake for her birthday! Thanks!

  • http://keepitsweetblog.com Lauren at Keep It Sweet

    I have the same feelings towards lemon desserts! I only recently started to appreciate them at all. This cake is beautiful and would make a great dessert for the lemon and non-lemon lovers.

  • Amy

    Wow! This looks absolutely fantastic! I always bake a cake for the ladies at work on their birthday, and this will definitely be the next one I take on!

  • http://aglassofmilk.wordpress.com jennie

    the cake is stunning! i love lemon and your lemon/mascarpone filling sounds amazing. and of course, the flecks in the frosting are completely beautiful. can’t wait to make this one. hmmmm, whose birthday is coming up?

  • http://www.stuffgrowing.blogspot.com EG

    What a BEAUTIFUL cake, and as I think the combination of lemon and sugar is always a winner, it sounds delicious to me! I’ll try this for sure!

  • Maggi

    Very nice! I would have loved seeing a photo of the cake with a slice out of it. ;)

  • Paula B.

    Lovely,thinking back to August twenty years ago next week when we had a wonderful lemon (with a vanilla buttercream frosting)wedding cake. There was chocolate too, a football shaped groom’s cake! Your filling sounds decadent – looking forward to baking this.

  • http://thelittlekimchipierogi.wordpress.com the little kimchi pierogi

    This cake is really beautiful. For the life of me, I don’t know how you have time for this! And what method do you use to frost your cake so smoothly? My current favorite is the “upside down” method, but always looking for new ones!

  • http://www.easyeverydayeats.com Erin

    Your cakes are always gorgeous! I have to agree… I’m generally not a big lemon curd fan, but I love the idea of whipped mascarpone with lemon. Genious! Love all your recipes!

  • http://kitchensimplicity.com Cheri | Kitchen Simplicity

    Love the sound of that mascarpone filling! For someone who isn’t a big fan of lemon desserts you sure created a showstopper. It sounds like the perfect lemon cake. :)

  • Brenna J

    I absolutely LOVE lemon desserts and I just can’t wait to make this!!

  • http://www.allthingsalicia.typepad.com Alicia

    Wow that looks fabulous! My lemons won’t be ready for another month or two, but I have many events in the next few months I could take this to and I’m super excited to try it!

  • http://nygirl23.blogspot.com Chelsea

    Annie, that looks straight out of the bakery – fantastic job you did here! I love lemon – it’s even part of our wedding cake (with curd filling), but I am ecstatic to make this dessert! Thank you so much for posting!

  • Nicole G

    Really pretty cake! No one else (besides me) in my family enjoys lemon desserts. I try not to make them very much because I will end up eating the entire thing! This will go on my list of cakes to try for sure.

    (Eagerly awaiting your first pumpkin post since you are like me and usually can’t wait too long! ;)

  • Annie

    I don’t know that there is a special name for my method and I don’t know what the “upside down” method is. I just use a crumb coat, offset spatula, and a rotating cake stand.

  • Annie

    As usual, with birthday cakes I tend not to photograph them once cut because I prefer to let the moment be about the birthday and not about getting a great photo.

  • http://madeinsonoma.blogspot.com/ Kelli H (Made in Sonoma)

    BEAUTIFUL! This one is gorgeous!

  • http://www.sporadiccook.blogspot.com Julie

    I kinda have the same feeling toward lemon, but I when I get my hands on a good lemon dessert, I’m always glad I did. This cake looks beautiful and light.

  • http://www.katieemrich.blogspot.com katie

    This cake is gorgeous!

  • http://dinahs-dishes.com Dinah

    The cake looks beautiful and the filling sounds absolutely amazing.

  • http://Andrea-thekitchenwitch.blogspot.com Andrea the Kitchen Witch

    Annie your cakes are always visually stunning! This one is no exception. Like you I’m not lemon’s biggest fan when it comes to dessert. it tends to go into the bitter range to me when baked, but this does sound good. I love the marscapone layer, totally decadent :) And I have to say big KUDOS to you for respecting the birthday persons day and not photographing the cake while its being cut or after, its awesome that you focus on the birthday not the photo.

  • http://kristineskitchen.wordpress.com Kristine

    This cake is just stunning! I am always amazed at the incredible cakes that you think up and create.

  • http://elieslie.blogspot.com/ Elies_Lie

    This cakes looks amazing Annie!
    Great work u have done! ;)

  • http://www.onceuponacuttingboard.com/ Natalie

    Wow, that cake is absolutely gorgeous! I love the candied lemon on top and the mint adds the perfect pop of color. Yet another recipe to bookmark from your site!

  • http://casualbaker.blogspot.com Sheena S.

    Gorgeous cake, as always. The lemon-vanilla combo is simply inspired!

  • http://laynenp.blogspot.com Layne

    Funny! In addition to your dislike of mint (BLECH!) I also share your ambivalence toward lemony desserts. I just don’t get them. Why waste calories on a lemon tart when you can have chocolate? Fruit cobblers? BREAD PUDDING?!?

    But your creamy/vanilla-y take on a lemon cake sounds delicious. I would definitely try this at a party. LOVE the vanila specks in the icing paired with the candied lemon slices. GORGEOUS!

  • http://laynenp.blogspot.com Layne

    BTW, you seem like you don’t like to talk too much about your residency, but I work with and help train residents every day and I’m super curious how it’s going. More importantly after hearing about their schedule I can’t imagine how you have time to do all this baking LET ALONE keep up this blog.

    Will you at least answer one question? WHAT is your residency? Peds? General? Surgical? (There’s no WAY you have enough time to be a surgical resident!) I’m so curious what your field is!

  • Annie

    Hi Layne,
    I try keep the details of my professional life separate from the blog as much as possible. I won’t share my specialty, but I’m not a surgeon. You are right, there is no way that would work :)

  • Tiffani

    What a beautiful cake, Annie!!

    BTW, in the same thread as Layne’s question… I enjoy reading quite a few baking and cooking blogs, and have even considered starting one myself. But I’ve noticed most bloggers – that is their job, other than being a stay-at-home/homeschooling mother, which I fully realize is a job in it’s own. I have two beautiful boys very similar in age to your two children, and also am a professional working full time outside of the home. I can’t imagine how I would find time to maintain a blog!! This is one of the reasons I absolutely love reading your blog – and I just have to ask…how do you find the time?! :)

  • http://theyellowhousecook.wordpress.com/ Marie | theyellowhousecook

    Looks stunning, sounds delicious. Yum!

  • http://theprocrastobaker.blogspot.com Sasha @ The Procrastobaker

    Oh annie this is beautiful, and just the most gorgeous flavours in this cake. I would love this i know, and it is going straight to the top of the cakey-make list! :)

  • http://onceuponarecipe.wordpress.com Amanda

    This is such a gorgeous cake, I’m in awe of its beauty! Plus, I LOVE lemon. I’m not sure I could make it look as pretty as yours, but perhaps I’ll give it a shot!

  • http://www.sodomesticated.blogspot.com Emily@SoDomesticated

    Oh my goodness, that is one beautiful cake!

  • http://sweetnerdylife.blogspot.com Mary Beth

    This looks so delicious! I’m a die hard lemon dessert fan, so this will definitely be something I would love to make. Next time I’m in need of making a cake, I will remember this recipe!

  • http://laurajayne.me LauraJayne

    I adore lemon desserts – yours looks (and sounds SO good). I’m totally craving lemon now – it’ll motivate me to finally figure out gluten-free version of my favorite lemon bars!

  • http://www.crumblycookie.net Bridget

    I saw a lemon layer cake on another blog earlier today (I don’t remember which), and it had a pile of fresh lemon slicess on top, which just seemed so wrong. You can’t eat those! I was thinking that candied lemon slices make so much more sense, and of course you were too!

  • http://itsthecookiemonster.wordpress.com Connie the Cookie Monster

    oh my this cake sounds lovely! im not a huge fan of lemon curd either and lemon mousse sounds like a perfect solution to that!

  • http://www.blondeinthekitchen.blogspot.com Morgan

    I’m not a huge lemon-lover either when it comes to desserts. For me, it’s all about the chocolate. I’m actually planning on making your Lemon Blueberry cupcakes today! I think I might add some blueberries to the icing too though, just to really amp up the flavor.

  • http://www.bakemeblush.blogspot.com Nicole @ Bake Me Blush

    How you managed to get a cake looking so perfect, I’ll never know. I just bought a nice bunch of vanilla beans and I’m looking for ways to use them, so thanks for the recipe!

  • http://www.crypticwords.blogspot.com Jennifer H

    I made your lemon cake recipe last night and it was amazing. It was moist, lemony, light–just perfect. Everyone who tried it loved it. Thanks for sharing such a great recipe.

  • http://sweetsugarbelle.com sweetsugarbelle

    Annie! First of all the photos and the cake are GORGEOUS! I too had to grow into loving lemon but now that I’m more open to it I enjoy lemon desserts as long as they aren’t too tangy. This seems perfect for my taste. Again….beautiful cake and photos!!! BRAVO!

  • http://easyas314159.blogspot.com/ Jess Gavura

    I just tried this cake for my 21st birthday cake but I put some homemade lemon curd and then the lemon cream cheese frosting on it. The cake was to DIE FOR. I can honestly say that it is probably the best birthday cake I’ve ever had. I even made seven cupcakes just so I could eat the cake without actually eating the cake. Thanks so much for this recipe. It’s definitely a keeper.

  • http://www.sixteenbeans.com kyleen

    Your cake is so pretty. I love the specks of vanilla bean visible throughout the frosting.

  • http://www.myfudo.com Tres Delicious

    What a delectable cake you’ve got here. I love your frostings.

  • http://www.thehungryhousewife.com leslie

    Sounds absolutely mouth watering

  • joan

    I’ll be making this for my friends birthday next week!
    Good on ya for keeping your personal life just that, personal. I love your blog, it’s truly my favorite food one out there. Thanks for all you do to inspire all of us.

  • Rebekah

    Annie, I am also an Indianapolis resident and have THE hardest time finding mascarpone, I was just wondering if you could tell me where you get yours?

  • http://warmvanillasugar.wordpress.com/ Katrina

    This is so pretty! Awesome cake :)

  • Lynn

    I have the layers cooling as I type. My layers are rather flat, I don’t know if I did something wrong, but I am pretty sure I followed the directions to the letter…maybe I measured something wrong. Or, maybe they are going to be delicious when I cut into it. I will let you know!
    The filling is SO good. My kids wanted to eat it by the spoonful.
    I am off for a run so I can enjoy the cake with no guilt!

  • Olivia

    Annie – your frosting skills astound me! If I attempted a cake like this, it most certainly would not turn out as beautiful as yours did! I hope your father had a wonderful birthday.

    Olivia.

  • Annie

    You can find it in pretty much every grocery store, wherever the specialty cheese section is, like by goat cheese and such. Believe me, if Kroger has it (they do), then every store has it.

  • http://atthepatisserie.wordpress.com Ann P.

    this looks absolutely scrumptious! Annie, you’re amazing!

  • http://www.roxanagreengirl.com/ Roxana GreenGirl

    Lately I have discovered I actually like lemons in my desserts and would eat lemon curd with the spoon straight from the jam (you’re going to make a silly face as you read this)
    Maybe next time you make a cake can you take a photo on how you frost the cake so evenly? I’ve been staring at it for the last 10 minutes and I can’t figure out how you did such a perfect frosting. Thanks!

  • http://www.carolinaheartstrings.com carolinaheartstrings

    Wow. What fantastic pictures of a wonderful recipe. Cannot wait to try this one!

  • http://cafelula.wordpress.com Julia

    Wow, how impressive is this cake?! Looks yummy and very pretty.

  • Annie

    Roxana, check out Zoe Bakes’ blog for some great cake decorating tutorials. Her videos are far more helpful than any pictures I could take :)

  • Lynn

    This is a wonderful recipe. I made it for myself for my b-day! My friends loved it. Random people at the restaurant where I had dinner with my friends even loved it. The filling and frosting are perfect. The frosting is really easy to work with and the vanilla bean is so pretty! I was worried about the flatness of my layers, but that just made it easy to keep the cake straight. The cake is delish!
    Candy the lemons. I was hesitant, but they are easy, beautiful and delicious.
    I garnished mine with fresh picked blackberries….they were the perfect splash of color and flavor!

  • Heather

    Could I use 3-9 inch cake pans to make this recipe instead of 8 inch? If so, would I need to modify the cooking time or temp? Thanks, Heather

  • Annie

    It would be better to use two 9-inch pans, otherwise your layers would be super thin. You will need to adjust the baking time but I don’t know exactly how much. You’ll have to keep an eye on them and use the toothpick test. Enjoy!

  • Heather

    Thank you so much for your reply. I think you are amazing at what you do and can’t thank you enough for so many wonderful recipes that I have added to my “keepers” box! I found out about your site because my friend made your blueberry lemon cupcakes for a function and I was dying over them and she passed your website info onto me and I have been a follower ever since!

  • http://starsflourpower.blogspot.com/ Starla

    Baked it, loved it, blogged it, and linked back to your site. Thanks for so much inspiration! (..and no, my pictures never come out as nicely as yours..*sigh* )

  • http://katietully.com Katie

    I finally made this cake after lusting after it for a week… so delicious! I made it with 4 very thin layers and used varying amounts of food coloring to turn the layers into a gradient (from natural lemony-yellow cake to bright yellow cake), which added a little surprise on the inside. (It’s the graphic designer in me). Thanks for another great recipe!!

  • http://www.eatmedelicious.com Ashley

    You did an amazing job with this cake! I love the candied lemon slices on top and the big dollops of icing on top.

  • Dalia

    Hi Annie, It is Tuesday and I would like to get started on the cake for a birthday party on Friday. I plan to make the frosting and filling tonight and store in the fridge until Friday afternoon. Will I need to re-whip either or both for the correct consistancy when it is time to assemble?
    Thank you,
    Dalia

  • Annie

    I’m not sure making the filling in advance is the best idea, but either way, you will likely need to rewhip the frosting before using. Of course I haven’t made the components in advance myself, so I can’t say for sure. Enjoy!

  • Dalia

    Ok thanks. So, I will just make the frosting tonight and store in an airtight container. You mentioned it will make more than enough, so I am assuing it will last in the fridge for maybe a week or two for more yummy goodies!

  • Dalia

    Hi Annie. I made the frosting and stored it in a container in the refrigerator over night. The next day I took it out and it was hard as a rock! I only had 30 minutes until the guests were to arrive. I panicked and added more heavy creamy and tried to whip it. But the electric hand mixer almost broke. I kept adding more milk until I ruined it!

    Is it supposed to harden this way? And if so, was the solution to take it out of the refrigerator at least an hour before spreading so that it can thaw out?

    I ended up asking the neighbor to buy me vanilla frosting and bring it over on her way. The cake and filling was perfect though!

  • Annie

    It’s mostly butter so if you refrigerate it, it will resolidify just as butter would. It would have come back to frosting texture but you need to leave it out much longer than that at room temperature.

  • steph

    This cake is fabulous, my whole family loves it including me. But the vanilla bean frosting is dynamite. I love to just take a spoon and eat the frosting. Amazing thank you for sharing.

  • christyna

    New to the site! Absolutely fabulous blog :) Question: I noticed that you have a few three-layer cake recipes on your blog. I only own 2 8″, and 2 9″ pans. How would you recommend reducing the recipe to only do two layers, or would you recommend just going out and buying additional pans?
    Thanks!

  • Annie

    You can do whatever you prefer. I like the look of three versus two layer cakes so that’s what I tend to make. Back when I only had two cake pans I would divide the batter evenly into three portions, bake two layers and then bake a third. Or you could just buy more pans, or reduce the quantity. Hope that helps!

  • Katie S

    I made this for my husband’s birthday, and it was fabulous! I could seriously eat that vanilla bean frosting with a spoon. To die for. Every bit of this cake was beyond compare. Even the candied lemons came out good! Next time I’ll cut them a little thinner, though.

    Also…just a tip: I made mine the day before the party and foolishly put my mint garnish on the cake. It was wilted by the next day, so save your mint garnish until just before the party!

  • djandkellen

    I saw your post regarding the Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream and it looks divine!! Do you think that recipe would be good on this cake, or should I stick to the delicious, beautiful looking icing in this post? Thanks, Annie!! :)

  • Annie

    That’s really your call, but I prefer the pairing here which is why I did it that way :)

  • http://bakingconfessions.blogspot.com JoAnn

    Loved this cake! Thanks!

  • sara

    Does this cake have to be refrigerated? Made it today but power went out. Still hasn’t come back. I put the cake in the garage for the time being

  • Annie

    Please see the FAQ page.

  • sara

    Thanks. I’ll have to wait till power is restored so I can use my actual computer. Having a hard time finding the page on my cell. Stupid snow storm in October!!!

  • Mandy

    So very sorry to hear about your dad. When I saw your post it immediately made me think of this cake. I made this cake for my best friends birthday and it was amazing! I think it was a wonderful gift for your dad who obviously enjoyed it to the last piece. Thank you for all your posts and candid snapshots of life.

  • Linda

    How sweet would you say this cake is? I’m planning on making this for my mom’s birthday on Feb. 12th and she doesn’t like things that are too sweet.
    Any suggestions on how much I can safely cut the sugar without it being too….not sweet? (For lack of a better word). Thanks so much for the recipe!

  • Anonymous

    Attempting to describe how sweet a cake is is sort of impossible, since that’s a totally subjective thing. What is not that sweet to me may be overly sweet to someone else. My best advice is to test it out in advance and make any changes you deem necessary.

  • Sherrie

    I can’t wait to try this recipe. Thank you for writing such great introduction to your recipe. I really enjoy reading the story before the recipe because it makes the recipe even more special.

  • Joy

    Stumbled upon this recipe after making my own frosting and filling. I was searching for the perfect cake to go with them. I used lemon swiss meringue buttercream and lemon curd filling and it was absolutely divine.

  • Melinda

    I tried this out on Sunday, though a bit time consuming to prepare, WOW it was good. This officially killed my New Year’s Resolution of eating sweets only ever OTHER day. At least it died happy, right?

  • Linda

    Thanks! I will duly be sticking my tongue into the batter and frosting and filling (haha)

  • sophistimom

    Wow, that is such a beautiful cake.

  • Mallory

    Made this cake for my birthday….It was AMAZING. My family all stopped mid-bite and said “Oh my god!” DELICIOUS!

  • Anna

    May i ask what tip you used to make the larger “swirls” on top of the cake as well as the smaller ones rimming the bottom?

  • Anonymous

    I don’t know. For things like this I usually just grab the closest star tip, and I rarely take note of which one it was. Sorry!

  • Anna

    No worries. Thanks for taking the time to read and reply to my question. :) I’m pretty new to your blog, but I’m already very inspired by your beautiful creations and how you manage to maintain a balanced work and family life. Keep up the wonderful job.

  • Shani

    Hi annie, why dont you just bake the whole batch in one pan and then divide it to 3 layers?

  • annieseats

    I’m not sure there is a pan that would a) hold enough batter to do that and b) cook that much batter evenly without being totally raw in the center. Not to mention, the probability of getting three even layers would be very low.

  • Steph

    I made just the frosting for some vanilla cupcakes, and oh my GOD. It’s delicious. My boyfriend’s niece and I just wanted to eat the whole bowl. It tastes like vanilla icecream!

  • Christy

    Is it necessary to use cake flour?

  • annieseats

    Please see the FAQ page. Thanks!

  • Carolyn S.

    Annie, this is an absolutely beautiful cake. I plan to make it as shown for my friends birthday in a couple of weeks and I think I am going to make it for my sisters baby shower as well! Her shower isn’t until early fall – but I plan ahead. I am thinking there well be about 40 people in attendance so I plan to experiment with 10″ pans and perhaps a 2 layer cake.. I don’t know :) I guess I will just have to bake several “practice” cakes over the summer and see what works!

    You should know that you have become one of my “GO TO’s” (along with ATK and Alton Brown!) for a guaranteed successful recipe every time. That’s a big deal to me because I cook and bake a lot and I love to try new things so it is reassuring to know that I can choose something to bring to a party and just know it will be delicious.

    Again, thank you for your sharing your recipes and expertise with us.

  • Carolyn S.

    Great question! I was about to ask the same thing! Guess I will just experiment with the extra frosting ;)

  • annieseats

    Well, thank you Carolyn! That is very sweet.

  • Christy

    Already looked there but didn’t find the answer…just info on bread flour.

  • annieseats

    Here is the info on substitutions: “Recipes call for certain ingredients because those ingredients work best. I recommend using the specified ingredients whenever possible. Remember, using a substitution may result in a mediocre outcome.” Hope that helps!

  • http://bethsblueplate.wordpress.com/ Beth

    I’m making the cake part of this recipe for a lemon/blueberry cheesecake cake that I’m taking to Easter dinner tomorrow. The batter… wow. I could have just eaten it straight from the bowl.

  • Allison

    About to make this for Easter. Do you mean regular cake flour or self-rising cake flour? Could you tell me the difference between regular flour and cake flour?

  • annieseats

    Regarding the difference between AP and cake flour, please see the FAQ page. If it doesn’t indicate self-rising, you can assume regular. Enjoy!

  • KC

    Hello I made your cake for an Easter brunch and it was absolutely amazing!

  • Elena

    Hi Annie! I have made a few of your recipes and they are always great! I am making this cake for my boyfriend’s dad’s birthday, and he loves lemon and chocolate…. do you think a chocolate buttercream with some lemon (or no lemon) would work with the rest of the cake? My feeling is no, but I figured I would ask!

  • annieseats

    I personally think no, but I know some people do like that combo. Good luck!

  • Ellis

    do you have to use an electric mixer

  • annieseats

    Please see the FAQ page. Thanks.

  • Charli Dickenson

    Fantastic recipe Annie. Went down very well here and was really straightforward to make. Thanks!

  • Mary

    I made this cake last year for my dad’s birthday and it was a big hit. My mom has requested it in cupcake form for her birthday. Do you think that it would work if I filled the cupcakes with the lemon mascarpone?

  • annieseats

    Sure. Enjoy!

  • Sara

    Do you think fresh lemon juice can be used instead of the lemon extract? I think I will make this for Mother’s Day..sounds SO good!

  • annieseats

    Lemon extract is much more potent than lemon juice. Lemon juice won’t lend nearly as much lemon flavor, and in using more of it, the consistency will be affected.

  • Melissa

    I made this cake for myself for Mother’s Day and it was wonderful! The filling is amazing. My two-year-old son and husband were both asking for “more cake.” I chose this recipe to try out my new stand mixer for the first time. I don’t know how I’ve made it with just a hand mixer in the past; buttercream will never be the same:) I’ve recently discovered your blog via Pinterest and am thoroughly enjoying the recipes. As a fellow physician, I know how busy life is… hats off to you for creating this inspiring compilation of delicious recipes and beautiful pictures!

  • annieseats

    So glad you enjoyed it, and congrats on the new mixer! You’ll love it!

  • Rebeccaannsims

    How do you store this cake? I am needing to bake a lemon cake for this Friday and was wondering if I could get away with baking/icing it tonight and praying it would be good for Friday evening. I just don’t have time tomorrow to do it. Any advice is greatly appreciated. I really want to try this cake out!

  • annieseats

    Please see the FAQ page. Thanks!

  • Chachak23

    Do you think I can turn this recipe into cupcakes?

  • annieseats

    Please see the FAQ page. Thanks!

  • Kate

    Annie, how would you compare this cake to the lemon/blueberry cupcakes? More/less dense? More/less lemon-y? Or, do you have a favorite? I was thinking of subbing the lemon/blueberry cake base (minus the blueberries) for a 6″ version of this cake. Thank you!

  • annieseats

    I’m not sure I’m able to compare them because I haven’t had them side by side, but this is my go-to cake for every occasion and I make it frequently in all shapes and sizes.

  • Kate

    Okay! Then I’m going to branch out – thanks!

  • Diva

    I am going to try this for a wedding celebration! Hope it turns out well!

  • MissesDaddy

    Dear Annie,
    I made your lemon mascarpone cake with vanilla bean frosting for my first sons first birthday, it will always remain dear to my heart! our lemon dessert snob of a grandmother was blown away. Such a delight that you have taken time to share your recipes that all taste of perfection.
    You are the BEST, I come to Annie’s Eats and only Annie’s Eats.

  • annieseats

    Aw YAY! So glad you all enjoyed it :)

  • Sky

    Hi Annie, I want to make this cake for my cousin’s baby shower but I have a bit of a dilemma. The filling sounds absolutely delicious but I know for a fact that my cousin LOVES strawberry filling– but I’ve never had lemon cake with strawberry filling. I know raspberry tends to be the go-to-filling when it comes to lemon cake… But I haven’t tried that either lol. So I was wondering what is your point of view? Do you think the strawberry filling would compliment the lemon cake? Thank in advance.

  • annieseats

    Sure, I think it would be great! Lemon goes well with most berries – raspberry, blueberry, blackberry and strawberry. Just makes me think of strawberry lemonade :) Enjoy!

  • Celine

    This cake is absolutely amazing! It may be in the top 5 cakes I’ve ever had. My mom said it reminded her of her wedding cake. The filling was heavenly and the cake itself had the perfect texture and flavor. Thank you for the amazing recipe!

  • Heather W.

    I was wondering if you happen to know who many cupcakes this would make. I read the FAQ page and know that these can be converted to cupcakes and cooked for less time. I thought that it would probably be around 24?

  • annieseats

    I think it makes around 30 cupcakes. Enjoy!

  • Kim from design life kids

    I made a vanilla cake using this recipe w/o the lemon this weekend for my daughter’s birthday and it was super yummy but pretty dense. It tastes like a fresh baked sugar cookie!

  • Emily Elliott

    Just have to comment how sorry I am for the loss of your dad. I also wanted to let you know that this cake is the ULTIMATE. This is my top requested cake for EVERY family birthday…in fact, we’re getting ready to go down to Florida for spring break and my son is requesting this for his birthday (*2nd year in a row*). In fact, this has been everyone’s birthday cake for the past two years. :) Thank you for helping us to create this new family tradition! Your recipes NEVER disappoint!

  • annieseats

    Thank you, Emily. I’m so glad to know this cake is special to your family too!

  • Patti

    I’m a huge fan of the lemon blueberry cupcakes. How did this compare? Was it a moist cake?

  • annieseats

    Hopefully she will reply too, but I just have to say that this cake, of all the cake recipes I make, is my most trusted, most go-to cake. I make it all the time in so many flavor variations!

  • Patti

    Thank you Annie. I made this cake today and WOW is it good. Very moist cake. I love it! I made three 6″ cakes but for some reason I had to cook for longer than the 20-22 minute range. I’m not sure if I did something wrong. Anyway, it turned out Great! Time to make the filling and frosting!

  • Patti

    Help! I made a 3 tier cake. Two 6 inch and one 8 inch. I used a cake tester in the middle of the 8 inch cake and it was clean but after i took it out the middle sunk. It’s raw in the middle. Can I scoop out the middle? Is there a way to fix these?

  • annieseats

    That doesn’t sound fixable at this point. I would remake them and make sure they are fully cooked through before taking them out.

  • bridget

    I decided to make this cake today on a whim, for father’s day. I’ve been making your German chocolate cake every year for my dad’s birthday & It is the best german chocolate recipe I’ve found so I knew i could trust that this recipe would work out. I can say the same about this cake. Everyone LOVED it. They gobbled up the the whole thing but a couple slices. My family kept commenting on how nice and light it was. I made the candied lemons as well and saved the syrup to drizzle over slices for those who like a little more lemony flavor. It was a great success and I will be making it again and again!!!! Thank you!!!

  • Frances Russell

    Looks lovely! If you’re still looking for a lemon mousse recipe, the filling from Maida Heatter’s Lemon Chiffon icebox cake is delicious: http://www.loulies.com/lemon_chiffon_icebox_cake/

  • Shari

    Would I need to increase the recipe to make three nine inch layers?

  • annieseats

    Yes, if you want them to be about the same thickness as the 8-inch layers. I usually up it to a 1.5 batch if I am using 9-inch pans. Hope that helps!

  • Shari

    Aww thanks for answering so quickly!

  • Shari

    Thank you for replying so quickly!

  • Deb

    I make the filling in this recipe all the time to use as a lemon mousse with lemon meringue cookies. Because I love it :) Today I made it with greek yogurt cream cheese instead of the mascarpone and I think I love it even more. The texture was smoother but the tang was still there. Thanks for the great recipe!

  • bamaya212

    I made the filling twice last night and both times it looked curdled :( WHat did I do wrong or is this normal with marscarpone ? Please help!

  • annieseats

    Hmm – not sure. It may look a bit curdled when the lemon and mascarpone are mixed but usually gentle mixing can help even that out some. Was it a major curdling or just a little bit? That can happen when lemon is added to dairy in general.

  • bamaya212

    The first batch looked more curled than the second one. Maybe I didn’t beat the mascarpone and butter long enough? I followed the recipe but it went down hill after I folded in the whipped cream into the cheese. I ended up using the second batch in my cake. I hope it still tastes good!

  • annieseats

    Don’t worry, even if it is a little curdled, I’m sure it will still taste great. Enjoy!

  • http://sweetmeggiejs.weebly.com/ Meg

    Okay, so this cake…wow. I had been eyeing this cake ever since you posted it three years ago. But decorated layer cakes always seemed like a major time investment, and my extended family looooves the cake from the little bakery in my town, so I was always discouraged from rocking the boat and messing with that. Not to mention the thought of decorating a cake and having it actually look all professional…scary. Well I’ve been royal icing cookies for several years now (thanks to you!), and I’ve made croissants several times (also you!), so I figured I really shouldn’t be afraid of the decorating. I did a lot of research on technique, gave myself tons of time, and embraced the process. It was soooo fun. I can’t decide if the cake was prettier or tastier because it sure was both in spades. The lemon was just the right amount. And that gorgeous vanilla bean frosting…soooo good.

    Thanks for such an amazing recipe, gorgeous, inspirational photos, and the confidence to tackle a new kitchen adventure! I can’t wait to try my hand at another decorated layer cake!

  • Sarah Humadi Baker

    Do you recommend baking the cake with the oven fan on or off? I learned that sometime people suggest putting a water bath inside the oven while baking to keep a steady environment, would that work for his recipe?

  • annieseats

    I don’t think my oven has a fan and I have never used one, so I can’t really say one way or the other. It probably doesn’t matter much. Enjoy!

  • annieseats

    I do a crumb coat for every cake I frost, so I don’t really specify because I consider it mandatory. Also I know a lot of people will just skip it and that’s their prerogative. So, I don’t bother differentiating. Hope you enjoy it!