This single layer lemon cake with lemon curd whipped cream frosting is the PERFECT cake for spring. It is bursting with lemon flavor, has the softest cake texture, and the lemon curd whipped cream frosting is the cherry on top of this wonderfully splendid cake. Not to mention, it's so easy to make!
Don't get me wrong, I love layer cakes, but I just wanted to make something simple, delicious and wildly easy. And this cake is just that. If you have some lemons and 35 minutes of free time, you have this dessert and you will NOT regret it. I couldn't think of a better way to celebrate the beginning of the summer season.
What ingredients do I need for a lemon cake?
For the cake, you will need:
- Baking powder
- Unsalted butter
- Vanilla extract
- Lemon extract
- Lemon zest
For the whipped cream, you will need:
- Heavy whipping cream
- Lemon curd
Why do I need lemon extract?
I tested this recipe a couple of times (and by a couple I mean, like, 7). At first I was using lemon juice but it was just waaaaaaay too acidic. Because of this, using straight lemon juice can really mess up the rise of this cake - it will rise too quickly in the oven and then sink. And nobody wants a sunken cake!! Leavening agents (specifically, baking soda) require an acid to rise such as lemon juice, lime juice, buttermilk, regular cocoa powder (not dutch processed), brown sugar, yogurt, vinegar, etc., etc., etc., so when we put a TON of lemon juice in cakes, the leavening agent gets all confused.
To get scientific for a minute, baking soda is a BASE and when a BASE mixes with an acid, let's say vinegar, it erupts a bunch of bubbles. This reaction causes carbon dioxide, which is what gives baked goods that beautiful rise. Baking powder simply has baking soda and an acid in it, so it does not need something else acidic in the recipe to rise.
What if I don't have buttermilk?
Honestly, who has buttermilk on hand? If you don't, you can make your own by combining 1 cup of whole milk with 1 tablespoon lemon juice OR 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar.
How can I zest a lemon?
Haven't ever zested a lemon before? No problems there!! Make sure to wash your lemon and then, well, zest! If you don't have a zester, you can use a fine cheese grater or a microplane. Scrape the lemon against your zester of choice until you see the white part of the lemon. Rotate the lemon while repeating this until you have gone all the way around and then BOOM you have lemon zest!
What should the bake time be?
- For an 8x8-inch pan: the cake should take somewhere between 24-26 minutes to bake through, depending on your oven
- For a 9x9-inch pan: the cake should take somewhere between 22-24 minutes to bake through, depending on your oven
- I haven't tried it, but you could also probably use a 6x6-inch pan, and bake for about 28-30 minutes
How can I store this lemon cake?
This cake can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 4-5 days. I hope you love this recipe, happy baking!
Lemon Cake with Lemon Curd Whipped Cream Frosting (Single Layer)
- 1 ½ cups all purpose flour spooned and leveled
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp salt
- ½ cup unsalted butter room temperature
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 2 eggs room temperature
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp lemon extract
- ½ cup buttermilk room temperature
- 2 tbsp lemon zest about 1 medium sized lemon
Lemon Curd Whipped Cream Frosting
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 3 tbsp lemon curd
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line an 8x8 or 9x9 inch cake pan with parchment paper. In a medium sized bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. In a separate bowl, beat together the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about two minutes. On medium speed, add the eggs one at a time, mixing well in between each addition. Add the vanilla extract, lemon extract and lemon zest and mix on low speed until combined. Add half of the dry ingredients while mixing on low speed until just incorporated. Add in the buttermilk and mix on low speed until just incorporated. Add the other half of the dry ingredients and fold until fully combined. Bake for 24-26 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Lemon Curd Whipped Cream Frosting
- In a bowl, combine the heavy cream and lemon curd and whip on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form. Once the cake is completely cool, frost and enjoy!