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Lemon Cream Cake

This lemon cream cake recipe is my go-to when I want an all-out lemon dessert experience! Moist Limoncello-infused cake is paired with whipped mascarpone frosting for a treat that’s sure to please.

Overhead view of lemon cream cake slice on plate, with remaining cake and slices of lemon in background

Two-Layer Lemon Cake With Mascarpone Frosting

I often mention my grandmother and her love of baking. She was always making something delicious, from cakes to fried pies. One of the cakes she frequently made was a lemon cake that consisted of dense lemon cake layers and a light, fluffy, lemon-y frosting that I could have eaten with a spoon!

I have many of her recipes, but the one for her lemon cake is regrettably absent from that collection. I’ve been trying to recreate that cake for a long time, and I believe I’ve finally gotten very, very close with this lemon cream cake! 

I do feel pretty sure, however, that her version didn’t involve Limoncello. That lovely lemon liqueur isn’t baked into the cake. Rather, it is brushed over the baked cake layers and allowed to soak into them to add even more lemon flavor to this all-out lemon delight.

As for the frosting, it couldn’t be simpler. Just three ingredients give you a fantastic frosting with a lovely lemon flavor! I will warn you that once mixed, the frosting is very thin. It doesn’t have the consistency of a traditional frosting. But chill your frosted cake for a bit, and it will set up beautifully.

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Overhead view of ingredients for lemon cream cake

What You’ll Need

Scroll down to the recipe card to find the ingredient quantities and recipe instructions.

For the Cake:

  • All-purpose flour – Learn how to measure flour for baking.
  • Baking powder
  • Salt
  • Lemon – You’ll need both the zest and the juice; zest the lemon first, then juice it.
  • Unsalted butter – Let this soften so it can be incorporated into the other ingredients.
  • Granulated sugar
  • Eggs – Set these on the counter with the butter to let them warm up a bit.
  • Milk – Whole milk is best for baking, but you can certainly use another milk you happen to have on hand.

For the Frosting:

  • Mascarpone – Some grocery stores sell this in the gourmet cheese section, others sell it alongside the ricotta near the bags of shredded cheese, and occasionally you’ll find it near the yogurts. Be sure to check all three places!
  • Heavy cream
  • Lemon curd – Use store-bought or homemade lemon curd.
  • Limoncello – You can omit this if you prefer not to use it.

Can I Replace Mascarpone With Cream Cheese?

Yes, you can replace the mascarpone in this recipe with cream cheese. Use the same amount and follow the frosting instructions as written.

Side view of lemon cream cake on plate, with remaining cake in background

How to Make Lemon Cream Cake

Although this is a two-layer cake, it’s not a fussy one that requires elaborate piping and such. In fact, I’d say this is a great cake for beginners because it’s quite impressive in flavor, but still very easy to put together.

Make the Cake:

Prepare. Preheat your oven to 350°F. Butter two 9-inch round cake pans, then line the bottoms with parchment paper and butter the paper.

Mix the dry ingredients. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and lemon zest in a mixing bowl.

Mix the wet ingredients. Use an electric mixer on medium speed to beat the butter and sugar in a second mixing bowl, until they’re light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, followed by the lemon juice.

Finish the batter. Reduce mixer speed to low and add the flour mixture in three portions, alternating with two portions of milk. 

Bake. Divide the batter between the prepared pans and spread it evenly. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. 

Cool. Let the cakes cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then invert them onto a wire rack to cool completely. (Learn more: Why Every Baker Needs Wire Cooling Racks)

Make the Frosting and Assemble:

Whip the frosting. Use an electric mixer on medium speed to beat the mascarpone, cream, and lemon curd in a mixing bowl until they’re well-combined and smooth. 

Frost the first cake layer. Place one cooled cake layer on a cake plate. Brush or drizzle half of the Limoncello over the cake, then spread half of the frosting on top.

Add the second cake layer. Place the remaining cake layer on top of the frosted layer. Brush with the remaining Limoncello, then spread the remaining frosting over the top of the cake.

Chill. Refrigerate the lemon cream cake for at least an hour before serving.

Whole lemon cream cake on cake stand, viewed from side to show layers

Tips for Success

Read over my baking tips for beginners, then follow these additional pointers for a perfect lemon cream cake.

  • Mix the batter just until combined. The more you mix the batter, the more the gluten in the flour will develop—and this will mean a tougher texture with less rise.
  • Make perfectly even layers. If you want to go the extra mile, weigh the mixing bowl that will hold the cake batter. Then, weigh it again after you’ve finished mixing the batter. The difference between the two numbers is the weight of your batter. Divide that number in two and that’s how much batter should go into each of your cake pans.
  • Remove the dome. If you want a bakery-style layer cake, you’ll want to trim the dome from the centers of the cake layers, making them flat. There are special tools for this, but all you really need is a long serrated knife; if you have a lazy Susan to slowly spin the cake on as you slice a thin layer from the top, that helps too.
Overhead view of whole lemon cream cake cut into slices

Serving Suggestions

If you like, top this cake with some fresh berries. Blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries… whichever you prefer. It will add more flavor and will certainly be eye-catching. 

Feeling extra ambitious? Candy some lemon peel and use that as a garnish. Less ambitious? White chocolate shavings make a pretty finishing touch, too.

How to Store

My grandmother always kept her lemon cream cake in the refrigerator and served it straight from there. I do the same with this cake. Keeping it chilled will keep your frosting from running away. Stored covered or in an airtight container, this cake will last about 4 days in the fridge.

Overhead view of slice of lemon cream cake on spatula

Can This Recipe Be Frozen?

Yes, you can freeze lemon cream cake for up to 2 months. Place it on a parchment-lined baking sheet and freeze it just until the frosting is solid. Then, wrap the cake tightly in a layer of plastic, followed by a layer of foil. 

When you’re ready to serve, let the cake thaw in the refrigerator.

More Lemon Cake Recipes

Slice of lemon cream cake on plate, with bite taken out of tip

Lemon Cream Cake

Yield 12 to 14 servings
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes

This easy lemon cream cake pairs moist Limoncello-infused cake with whipped mascarpone frosting for an all-out lemon dessert experience!

Side view of slice of lemon cream cake on plate


For the cake:

  • 2 cups (240g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • zest of 1 medium lemon
  • 1/2 cup (113g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 & 1/4 cups (250g) granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • juice of 1 medium lemon
  • 1 cup (237ml) milk

For the frosting:

  • 8 ounces (227g) mascarpone, softened*
  • 1 cup (237ml) heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup lemon curd, store-bought or homemade
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons Limoncello**


To make the cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter 2 9-inch round cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper. Butter the paper.
  2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and lemon zest. Set aside.
  3. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Mix in the lemon juice.
  4. Reduce mixer speed to low. Add the flour mixture in three portions, alternating with two portions of milk. Mix just until combined.
  5. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. Spread evenly.
  6. Bake 30 to 35 minutes, or until a pick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean. Cool the cakes in the pans for 10 minutes. Then invert the cakes onto a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the frosting:

  1. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the mascarpone, cream, and lemon curd until thoroughly combined and smooth. Do not over-mix.
  2. Place one cooled cake layer on a cake plate. Brush or drizzle about half of the Limoncello onto the cake. Spread about half of the frosting over the top of the cake.
  3. Place the other cake layer on top of the frosted layer. Brush with the remaining Limoncello. Spread the remaining frosting over the top of the cake.
  4. Chill the cake for at least an hour before serving to allow the frosting to set.


*Cream cheese will work if you don't have mascarpone.

**If you don't have Limoncello or just prefer not to use it, you can omit it.

Recipe slightly adapted from Taste of Home.

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    87 Comments on “Lemon Cream Cake”

  1. I would love a a slice of this with fresh berries on top! How delightful would that be?

  2. Someday, we will find the recipe! I cant wait to try this. Thank you for recreating this memory for us!

  3. OMG. You had me at lemon. I adore anything “real” lemon. Can’t stand fake stuff. For years I couldn’t handle lemon extract in baked goods because it tasted so phony but then I found lemon oil and all got happy again (not to mention finding a higher quality lemon extract to argue that isn’t a bad ingredient!). I have a friend with an up-and-coming birthday. This one would be perfect. Thanks, Jennifer. You always know the perfect recipe when I need it!!

  4. Well shoot looks like I’m going to have to make me one of these lemon cream cakes all because of your tempting mouthwatering images…thanks Jen.

    I was kinda pondering on poking some holes in it as well with a wooden skewer and adding some lemon glaze like what you did on your lemon poke cake maybe add in some butter and lemon extracts because that is what I

    Thanks..Big Hug!

  5. Love all things lemon!! Especially layer cakes. 🙂

  6. I notice instructions say to beat “Mascarpone” (for frosting) but don’t see it listed as an ingredient. Notes say to use cream cheese if you don’t have mascarpone –which do I use & how much. 8 oz whether mascarpone or cream cheese? Thanks–looking forward to trying this recipe 😊

  7. This lemon cream cake looks so pure and innocent. The color gave me a heavenly feel. And I am very sure that it will taste better with some berries. But nevertheless, it’s gorgeous!

  8. what is lemon curd?

  9. i will make this wonderful lemon cake. i miss my grandmother she would make Delicious cake’s and pie’s baked and fried.

  10. I made this cake today. It came together really easily. I made my own lemon curd and had some left over so instead of using the Limencello, I poked holes in the layers and poured the warm lemon curd over each so it could soak into the cake and set-up while they cooled. I also mixed the cream cheese and lemon curd together then turned the mixer to high and whipped in the heavy cream. This gave it a really fluffy consistency. Everyone loved it! Wonderful flavor. Thanks for sharing!!

  11. This was an awesome cake to make. It had a really great flavor. I did want to know if you could make it with cake flour instead of all purpose flour and if you can how much cake flour do you use?

  12. I made this cake for a social event and it was a hit.I did not have Limoncello, so I made the cake without it. The cake is light, fluffy and very moist and the frosting is perfect. The flavor of the cake really shines because neither the cake or the frosting is too sweet. This recipe will be making it into my permanent recipe folder for sure! Thanks for a great recipe.

  13. Such a beautiful looking cake!! I love lemon

  14. Swooning! Both the cake and frosting look fabulous!

  15. Jennifer I love getting your updates and weekly newsletters and this recipe looks like a dream xoxo

  16. that frosting, it looks dreamy!!!

  17. Mascarpone frosting, lemon curd and cream frosting…Sounds like heaven to me!

  18. Lemon cake will forever remind me of my sweet gramma. Love this!

  19. I love how light and fluffy this cake looks. There are two neglected Meyer lemon trees in our neighborhood – no one picks the fruit except me. I see a cake in our future!

  20. What is lemoncello

  21. Perhap your grandmother added a bit of lemon zest to it???  The smallest ingredient can make the biggest difference and the zest just puts it over the edge for me. 

  22. I just made this cake and it is in the oven right now! I can’t wait to finally try it! I’m sure it will be heavenly 🙂

    Thank you so much for this recipe!

  23. Thank you for sharing, would this cake hold under fondant? Thanks again! 

  24. It was delisious! Thank you for sharing. Just a note for those who’ve never worked with Marscapone chees, “until thoroughly combined” happens fast and too long “breaks” the frosting and that is too long and a point of no return; had to toss out the frosting and do over. 

  25. I made this cake with some minor tweaks and everybody loved it.Can I double the recipe to make two cakes?Any ingredient which needs to be adjusted?

  26. I didn’t care for this cake. The frosting would be better using cream chees. The marcapone frosting was to thin and sweet. Cake was to dry for me.

  27. Made this cake yesterday–it is amazing! Very unique from any I have made–simple recipe, came out beautifully and very moist.  The frosting is so good–I whipped the cream before incorporating it into the curd and mascarpone with a wisk, and used a more tarte flavored curd.  Just so heavenly–and even better the day after.  Thank you for this recipe!!

  28. I made this earlier in June for my mom’s birthday since she is a lemon lover.  It was delicious, especially the icing.  I have to admit, too, that I made it on Saturday but because of an unexpected problem, I didn’t serve it until Tuesday evening!!!  It was still delicious and seemed perfectly fresh.  Will definitely try it again, and eat it right away to see if it tastes even better super fresh!

  29. Hi, 

    I really like this recipe. i was hoping you would be able to help me adjust the cake recipe so that I can use a 6inch cake tin instead? 


  30. Hi first I’d like to say I loved the cake & so did everyone i served it to! I wanted to know how to make the frosting just a tad sweeter. Just a bit to take away the cream cheese taste a little

  31. This is a Divine recipe!  I made 1.5 of the recipe, baking it into 4 layers. It was a huge hit at the party!  I paired it with Homemade Strawberry Honey Ice Cream.  I baked the cakes at 325 degrees. They came out perfect. Highly recommend this recipe!!  I decorated with Happy Birthday written with melted chocolate onto wax paper, then chilled. Slowly peeled off to apply to the cake. Very happy with the results😊

  32. Made this today its in the fridge waiting for my kiddos to get home so we can share it.  Comment: my layers are very short-only about 3/4 inch high. Did I do something wrong?  Otherwise, i am dying to eat it. The smell of the warm cake was making me crazy. I made microwave lemon curd for the first time and OMG!  I reserved some of the curd and spread it on the first layer. Licked the frosting bowl. Not too sweet. I whipped the cream first then added the curd and marscapone. 

    • Hi, Julia. These layers aren’t exceptionally tall, but that does sound thin. If you used larger pans than listed in the recipe, that would certainly do it. I would also check the expiration date on the baking powder.

      • Thank you. I just tested my baking powder in hot water and it barely fizzed so I guess thats the culprit. Even so the cake tastes delicious its just more dense. 

  33. I was wanting to make this as a bundt cake…would I need to adjust temp of oven and cook time?

    • Hi, Victoria. I’ve not tried that for this recipe, so I can’t speak from experience. You’ll need a fairly large Bundt pan (12 to 15 cups, I’m guessing), and the baking time will increase a good bit because the cake will be thicker. I’d guess that it will take about an hour to bake, but you’ll just have to test with a pick to see when it’s done. Also keep in mind that the texture will likely alter, making a denser cake.

  34. If I don’t have lemoncello you said to omit it. Can I use regular lemon to drizzle on the cake.  Thanks 

  35. Hi – I made this cake earlier this week and used straight lemon juice instead of limoncello. It tasted great. It was still sweet enough and added another layer of lemon flavor. I did use Meyer lemons which aren’t as tart.

  36. ***AWESOME RECIPE***
    THANK YOU!! I will be making this awesome cake very often. Boyfriend loves it…..who wouldn’t lol.
    I did make a little change. I added a small pkg. Of instant lemon pudding. Added a 1/4 cup more of flour, 1/4 cup more of sugar, 1/4 cup more of milk, an additional egg, and an additional 3 tbs. of butter. I did a lemon curd with it and topped it with lemon cream cheese frosting. OMGOSH!!! WOW…….I CANT BELIEVE HOW GOOD IT IS!!!!

  37. Dear baking friend Jennifer! how are you doing, i would to attend the baking courses but i am staying in Namibia/Windhoek.
    Where must i applier the course dear 

    My regards, ithank you
    Ms Beatha Shaanika

  38. I made cup cakes with this recipe. Made a couple of small tweaks. First, I sifted my flour b/c I like light cakes. With the frosting, I whipped the heavy cream first then added in the marscapone and lemon curd just until mixed. Loved the frosting, perfectly light and not too sweet. I didn’t have any limoncello, but really wish I did b/c I thought the cake needed just hint more of lemon. Also, I poked holes in the middle of the cup cakes and filled them with remaining lemon curd (highly recommend Mackays).

    I brought them to party and everyone loved them! This is a fanstastic recipe that makes a tasty “adult” cup cake (my son thought they weren’t sweet enough). 

    Thank you. I plan to check out more of your recipes.

  39. I made this yesterday for a friend’s birthday. She loves lemon so this recipe was a great choice. The frosting was a bit thin and I was afraid the layers would topple so I cut up the cakes and made it into a trifle. I layered the cake and the frosting and threw in some fresh raspberries. It was amazing!

  40. I followed the directions but ended up with frosting the consistency of soup. 

    • Went back and beat the marscapone and cream longer and it eventually thickened up, but next time I will whip the cream first.

  41. Wow, I was so excited to make this cake for Easter……but…the frosting was so runny.  Triple checked the ingredients and I was correct.  I actually refrigerated the frosting trying to firm it up and it did, but then just got runny again.  It was still tasty, but……☹️☹️

    • It is a thin icing, but chilling it keeps it firm enough in my experience. If you had troubles and didn’t change anything, then it might just come down to something as simple as a difference between brands of ingredients.

  42. Hello. What attracted me to this recipe is the picture of the cake crumb. Looks very delicate, moist and not dry.
    If i wanted to make this a yellow cake, can i omit the lemon juice in the batter? Will it change the texture of the cake? Or do you have a recipe for s yellow cske with this same crumb?
    Thank you

  43. Ok so i made this for a elderly friend loves lemon so this seemed like a good bet…. It was easy enough and the flavor was Amazing, However this came out very dry and almost like a pound cake which is fine but not my intent.  I was truly hoping for a light weight air like lemon cake that tasted fresh and not heavy, it was very good just not what I was hoping for ,,, 😐

  44. If u don’t want the cake to be heavy, then use CAKE FLOUR

  45. I’m looking to add blueberries to this how much fresh blueberries would you suggest? And do you have a lemon buttercream frosting recipe your would recommend?  My husband doesn’t like cream cheese!!

    • Hi, Carrie. This cake is pretty light and fluffy, so I’m not sure it would hold up well to the addition of berries. You can always serve it with fresh blueberries. I don’t think I have a recipe for lemon buttercream. Maybe give this one a try.

  46. I made this cake for Easter and was quite disappointed. It was not light and fluffy as some of the other comments, but super dense and not very moist. I brushed several tablespoons of the limoncello over the tops of both layers before frosting and it still tasted like a super dry mess…the frosting was light and refreshing, but I did not care for the cake part. I would try this again with cake flour, as I think the AP makes it too dense of a cake for my taste.

    • For the frosting, I used my stand mixer with the whisk attachment and let the lemon curd, mascarpone and whipping cream whip up to a nice light almost whipped cream consistency and had no issues with the icing being runny and it held up, even after sitting out (not refrigerated).

    • I’m sorry you had troubles, Anne! With that much difference in texture, I’d look at how you’re measuring flour (see How to Measure Flour) or the type of flour you’re using. Even among all-purpose flour brands, there can be quite a difference in protein percentage, which can make noticeable differences in consistency.

  47. I followed cake recipe totally, but the cake did not rise at all. I’m serving it for a dinner party tonigh and think it might not look right. Any reason why it didn’t rise?

    • Hi, Phyllis. I’m sorry you had troubles! Cakes can fail to rise for many reasons. If you didn’t change anything about the ingredients or directions, then it could be expired baking powder, inaccurate oven temperature, over-mixing, or several other factors.

  48. I want to make the cake for my mums birthday tomorrow. Is it really hard ?

  49. Soooo good!!! I Love this cake!  😍😍😍

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