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Lemon Layer Cake

Look no farther than this lovely lemon layer cake recipe for your next spring or Easter dessert! This light lemon spring cake has luscious lemon curd sandwiched between two layers of soft lemon cake. Spring on a plate!

lovely lemon cake

So, what do you think of my first attempt at frosting a naked cake?! It’s not perfect, but I’m pretty happy with how it turned out. The taste and texture of this truly lovely lemon layer cake recipe is spot on, which is really what matters, right?

Since my Dad’s passing almost 6 years ago, it’s been a tradition of mine to make a cake to honor his birthday on March 18th. It just so happened that this year I was also asked by my sweet friend Kendra of Joy In Our Home to join her spring blog hop and create a spring recipe for the hop. Perfect timing for a spring cake!

I participated in Kendra’s Christmas blog hop last year, and it was so much fun! Remember that real mint chocolate no churn ice cream!? At the end of this post you’ll find all of the creations from the hop; be sure to check out the beautiful décor from 2 Bees in a Pod and the amazing-looking slow cooker honey ham from Countryside Cravings!

Now, shall we talk about this lemon layer cake!?

lovely lemon cake

What goes into a lemon layer cake?

There is so much lemon in this beauty! The cake itself contains the zest and juice of 2 whole lemons, and then it’s filled with a super easy and delicious lemon curd and a rich, tangy lemon buttercream. 

Lemon! So good.

While I usually like to use oil in my cakes to make sure they’re super moist, I used butter in this cake to ensure I got a bit of a denser cake that will hold up to the lemon curd filling. Plus, that buttery crumb is the perfect compliment to the lemon flavor.

The cake comes together easily, but make sure you leave enough time to bake and cool the layers, and prepare and cool the curd. I’ve set the temperature for the cake low at 325 F to ensure the tops don’t puff up too much. I didn’t even have to level off my layers; they were perfectly flat!

The curd is easy; it took me about 20 minutes in total to make, and then I had to cool it down in the fridge for a couple of hours. I used the method from my friend Monica over at Nourish and Fete but for a slight twist, you could easily use my Meyer lemon curd too!

How much lemon buttercream does this recipe make?

The recipe makes enough buttercream to frost the entire cake; if you’re making the cake “naked” like mine, you can add more frosting in between the two cake layers and on top, although you’ll likely still have some leftover. I used my leftover frosting on cinnamon buns a few days later 😉

I prefer to store this lemon layer cake in the fridge, letting it come to room temperature a few hours before serving. This keeps the curd fairly solid and everything nicely intact.

If you’re the one designated with dessert for this year’s Easter dinner, this is the cake for you. The lemon just screams spring, don’t you think!? If you’re looking for some other options, check out this orange-carrot cake from last year. It was sublime!

PS – don’t forget to go hopping around to the other posts listed at the bottom of this one. There’s some amazing décor ideas as well as other great spring recipes!

lovely lemon cake

lovely lemon cake

I love lemon! Here’s a few other tasty lemon treats from the blog:

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lemon layer cake

Lemon Layer Cake

  • Author: Katherine
  • Total Time: 2 hours 10 minutes
  • Yield: 1 2-layer cake 1x


Look no farther than this lovely lemon layer cake recipe for your next spring or Easter dessert! This light lemon spring cake has luscious lemon curd sandwiched between two layers of soft lemon cake. Spring on a plate!




  • 1 1/2 cups cake flour*
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 lemons (juice + zest)
  • 1 1/3 cup buttermilk*

Lemon Curd

  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • grated zest of 1 lemon
  • juice of 1 lemon (1/3 cup)
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into small cubes

Lemon Buttercream

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • juice of 1 lemon (1/3 cup)
  • 8 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream


  1. Make the cake. Preheat the oven to 325 F and generously grease and lightly flour 2 round 9″ cake pans.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine both flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt together.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or using a handheld mixer, beat the butter until creamy. Add the sugar and beat for another 2 minutes or until well combined. With the mixer running on low, add the eggs, 1 at a time, followed by the vanilla. Mix on medium, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed, for about 2 minutes. Add the lemon juice and zest and mix on low for 1 minute. With the mixer running on low again, slowly add the dry ingredients until incorporated. Slowly pour in the buttermilk and mix just until combined. Be careful not to overmix!
  4. Divide the batter evenly between the 2 cake pans; use a kitchen scale for accuracy if desired. Bake the cakes for 45-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow the cakes to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before running a knife around the edges of the pans and inverting onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  5. Make the lemon curd. In a small, heavy saucepan, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar. Whisk in the lemon zest and juice. Place the pan over low heat, using a wood spoon to stir almost constantly until the mixture thickens, about 15-20 minutes. Do not be tempted to turn up the heat!
  6. Once the mixture has thickened, add the butter and stir until completely melted. Remove the curd from heat and allow it to stand until it comes to room temperature. Place the curd in the fridge and cover tightly until cooled and ready to use.
  7. Make the frosting. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or using a handheld mixer, beat the butter until light and creamy. Add the lemon juice and 2 cups of powdered sugar and slowly mix; the frosting may look chunky but will smooth out with more powdered sugar. Add the heavy cream, followed by the remaining powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, mixing in between each addition. Stop adding sugar once the frosting reaches your desired texture; if you added too much, you can always add a little more cream to thin it out.
  8. Assemble the cake. Place one layer of cake on your cake stand or a cardboard cake base. Top the cake with about 1 cup of frosting (use less if you are frosting the entire outside of your cake as well). Build up the edges of the frosting to make a little frosting ridge to help contain the curd. Pour the curd directly into the middle of the cake, without spreading it around. Place the second layer of cake on top. The curd will spread under the weight of the cake; if any leaks out the side, you can scrape it away. Frost the top and sides (if desired) of the cake. Place the cake in the fridge for at least 1 hour prior to serving.

Cake keeps best in the fridge, but can also be stored at room temperature for 2-3 days, covered. If storing in the fridge, allow the cake to sit at room temperature for about 1 hour before serving.


  1. If you don’t have cake flour, make your own by measuring out 1 1/2 cups of flour into a bowl, then removing 3 tbsp of flour. Replace the 3 tbsp of flour with 3 tbsp of cornstarch. Sift together.
  2. To make your own buttermilk, combine 1.5 tbsp lemon juice or vinegar with milk and stir it around, allowing it to sit for 10 minutes before using.

Lemon curd recipe adapted from Nourish and Fete.

  • Prep Time: 1 hours
  • Cook Time: 1 hours 10 minutes
  • Category: cakes
  • Method: oven bake
  • Cuisine: american

Keywords: lemon layer cake recipe // light lemon cake // lemon spring cake

Recipe Card powered byTasty Recipes

Here are the rest of the spring blog hop posts!

Tablescapes on Monday

Timeless Creations | The Crowned Goat | The Painted Hinge
City Girl Meets Farm Boy | Live Laugh Rowe

 Vignettes on Tuesday    Joy In Our Home | Kingsbury Brook Farm | Chatfield Court
Curly Crafty Mom | 2 Bees in a Pod

 Recipes on Wednesday

Love In My Oven | Countryside Cravings | Crisp Collective
Berly’s Kitchen | Kelly Lynns Sweets & Treats

 Front Porches on Thursday

White Arrows Home  | DIY Beautify | Poofing the Pillows
Little Brags | Noting Grace

 Mantles on Friday

Repurpose and Upcycle  | Pennies From Heaven Home
The Homemaking Momma  | A Brick Home


Lemon Layer Cake


  1. Pingback: Slow Cooker Honey Mustard Glazed Ham | Countryside Cravings

  2. I LOVE anything with lemon so I am super excited to try out this recipe. Plus, I’ve never tried to make my own lemon curd so that will be a fun new experience too. I think it’s really sweet you remember your dad each year in this way, it’s such an awesome way to celebrate his life. Hugs, CoCo

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  4. What a lovely cake and I happen to love lemon!! That’s so nice to remember your dad each year with a cake!!

  5. This is definitely lovely Katherine! And totally perfect for Spring. Thanks for inviting me to the Blog Hop…this was my first one and it was so much fun!! XOXO

  6. This looks so amazing — and I can only imagine how delicious it is. Those pops of color from the flowers are delightful as well. Happy Spring, Katherine!

    Kelly Rowe

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  8. Lemon desserts are speaking my language! And I love the rustic presentation.

  9. Carrie at Curly Crafty Mom

    I have always wanted to try making a naked cake, too! They are so pretty and I love the fresh flowers you added to it. Also, lemon curd? Yes, please!! Such a nice thing to do in your dad’s memory!


  10. Hi Katherine, wowsers this cake is gorgeous and I am sure even more delish…I love how you used the flowers to decorate, super pretty pics. Christine from Little Brags

  11. This is a beautiful cake Katherine! I love that it’s loaded with lemons! Citrus adds such a lovely taste to cakes, and lemon definitely screams spring! Not to mention the lovely flowers on top! A must bake cake for spring gatherings!

  12. I love lemon anything, and this cake looks delicious! Definitely on my list to make for spring!

  13. marcie@flavorthemoments

    I love your tradition to bake your father a cake on his birthday every year! Your first naked cake came out so beautifully and those flowers! Lemon is such a great flavor to ring in spring — it doesn’t get much better than this!

    • Thank you Marcie – I like to make a point of remembering him and talking about him for the boys, as they never got the chance to meet him! I absolutely love lemon, and it sure does make me feel all of the spring vibes 🙂 Cheers, my friend!

  14. That’s such a lovely tradition to make a cake every year in memory of your dad! And this is a gorgeous cake. I love lemon anything, so lemon curd + cake sounds like a dream!

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  16. I love how you frosted this cake Katherine…it looks absolutely stunning. Lemon is such a great fruit and the best flavor to celebrate the start spring. Love this recipe…it sounds so yum😋

  17. Kelsie | the itsy-bitsy kitchen

    I LOVE lemon desserts! The way citrus cuts through the intense sugar just makes me swoon. Your naked cake is just perfect–I’ve always been afraid to try making a naked cake because my cake layers are never photo-ready :). I’m super impressed with yours! Happy spring!

  18. This cake is beautiful! I love the flowers and twig decoration, so springy. You can never go wrong with lemon, what a nice tribute to your dad. And I think your first try at frosting a naked cake is spot on! Pinned! Take care.

  19. I’m so sorry about your dad, Katherine. Losing a parent is something that you never get over, the loss becomes a part of you. And I think it’s so wonderful to honor them in ways just like this. Really this cake is just beautiful and even more so when I know why you make it.

  20. Ben|Havocinthekitchen

    I love all lemony things, but I do prefer a tart, pronounced flavor. And I think that having incorporated lemons literally in all 3 elements, you’ve created the perfect lemon cake. Well done, Katherine!

  21. this sounds so good! and i like a denser cake, so adding butter sounds perfect (: and i love that there’s lemon in every single part of this cake. the more lemon, the better!

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  24. Agree with the more lemon, the better!! YUM!!! Looks so wonderful and such a beautiful tribute to your papa! <3 *hugs*

  25. Mmmm….lemon. More the better for sure! Your naked cake looks wonderful Kathy. I’ve never been confident enough with my cake layers to show them off:)

  26. Perfect spring cake! Lemon curd, plus lemon cake and buttercream sounds like a winning combo! I’m sure your dad would have loved a big slice. xoxo

  27. First attempt =massive success! You are so talented and kind Katherine!!

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  31. Oh my gosh – this is a perfect springtime cake! Lemon cake is so fresh and your recipe sounds delicious – we can’t wait to try it!. Making a cake is such a sweet way to honor your dad and his memory. Hugs, Vicki and Jenn

  32. This recipe looks amazing! I love lemon cake, and I think you did a fabulous job frosting a naked cake. YUMMMMM!

  33. This is mouth watering! I may have to try this but as a gluten free version for my husband! I think he’d love it!

  34. Awww! I think it’s quite lovely you make a cake to celebrate you father! This December will be 6 years since my father passed away too, so I love that you honor him with cake! Maybe I should join in your tradition? 😉 Anyways, this cake is just GORGEOUS!! I can’t believe it is your first time frosting a naked cake! I mean, NAILED IT! Cheers, doll! XO

    • Aww, so they both passed in 2012! So sorry for your loss as well, it’s not easy is it!? I think there’s never a bad reason to make cake, so it seems like a good idea to join in on my little tradition 🙂 Thank you SO much, Chey! I am pretty happy with how it turned out for a first try! Hope you’re having a great weekend! XOXO

  35. My family can’t get enough lemon recipes! I think this will be on our Easter table this year! Thanks for sharing. Pinned!

  36. whitearrowshome

    This may just be the prettiest cake ever!! Love it! I bet is delicious too! My mouth is watering! I think it is such a wonderful tradition to make your father a birthday cake! Pinned this recipe and decorating idea!

  37. I would be thrilled to have this cake! Lemon is such a wonderful Spring flavor. Not to mention, it’s absolutely gorgeous! Love that it has lemon curd, too.

  38. That’s one beautiful cake, my friend! I’ve never made a ‘naked’ cake before but have seen them around and you’ve knocked it out of the park! Love the presentation with the flowers and twigs. Lemon curd is one of my favourite things. Whenever I make it, I’m guaranteed to eat it straight up with a spoon. The colour always amazes me too! So sweeet that you bake a cake in memory of your dad too. Have a wonderful weekend! XO

    • Thank you dearest Dawn!! I have been wanting to try a naked cake for a while now! Hah – I am with you on the lemon curd. I couldn’t stop ‘taste testing’ it!! It’s always a good idea to make extra of these things, right?! Hope you’re having a great weekend too!!

  39. Kendra @ www.joyinourhome.com

    If I could reach through my screen, I’d have a giant piece of this cake! I LOVE lemon and that curd looks amazing! Love the “naked” cake look so much… especially cause I can’t ice a cake nicely to save my life! Lol! The flowers and twigs are beautiful and look so spring-y! Thanks for joining me this week…love having you!

    • Haha – why haven’t we developed that technology yet!? I guess then we’d all be HUGE because we’re constantly looking at amazing food photos 🙂 I like the naked cakes for the same reason, hah!! I am terrible at creating that ‘smooth’ cake finish! Thank you so much Kendra, I was happy to be a part of it all!! XO

  40. This sounds moist and wonderful for spring! It’s so pretty too. 🙂

    Pinning and sharing.

  41. hummingbirdthyme

    Katherine, this lemon cake! So beautiful! It looks and sounds perfect! I, too, just love love love a lemon dessert! This would be perfect for Easter! That frosting, too! It looks great on a naked cake!

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  43. There is no better cake than lemon cake.

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