Do you love coffee cake? Do you love lemons? Well, this recipe is for you! This Lemon Cream Cheese Coffee Cake is moist, fluffy, and full of flavor. It’s the perfect treat to enjoy with your morning cup of coffee or tea.
Lemon Cream Cheese Coffee Cake
This soft-yet-dense Lemon Cream Cheese Coffee Cake is bursting with lemon flavor. There’s lemon juice and/or zest in each of the three components of the cake. If you love lemon, then I think you’ll adore this cake in all its lemon glory.
Added to all that lemon flavor is a good dose of cream cheese. I spread the sweetened cream cheese filling between layers of cake batter to create a distinct line of filling. But if you prefer, you can swirl it with the top layer of cake batter for a little different look.
The flavors of this Lemon Cream Cheese Coffee Cake are so lovely, they will make your taste buds tingle with joy! Pair it along side a cup of coffee or tea for the perfect breakfast or brunch treat. You can also enjoy a slice as an afternoon snack. Either way, you’re sure to love every bite. I think what I like best about these kinds of cakes is their sweet simplicity. Why not have a slice later on after dinner, too?
What You’ll Need
Besides the lemons, everything else here is a basic baking ingredient. Don’t be put off by the long-ish list of ingredients, as some of them repeat among the different components.
For the topping:
- All-purpose flour
- Granulated sugar
- Lemon zest
- Unsalted butter – Make sure your butter is cold. I like to cut it into cubes and return it to the refrigerator while I gather the other ingredients.
For the filling:
- Cream cheese – I recommend full-fat cream cheese for the best results. Bring it to room temperature for a smooth filling.
- Granulated sugar
- Egg – Also at room temperature
- Lemon juice
For the cake:
- All-purpose flour – As always, measure by weight or use the spoon and sweep method.
- Baking powder
- Lemon zest and juice
- Unsalted butter – Set out the butter about half an hour before baking so it can soften.
- Granulated sugar
- Egg – Bring to room temperature.
- Milk – Set out the milk with the egg so it can come to room temperature.
How to Make Lemon Cream Cheese Coffee Cake
You’ll be making three separate components for this cake, but each one mixes quickly and easily with no special equipment.
Make the topping
Combine most of the ingredients. Stir or whisk the flour, sugar, and zest until combined.
Add the butter. Mix the butter into the flour mixture with a fork or your fingers until the mixture forms crumbs. Refrigerate until time to assemble the cake components.
Make the filling
Mix the ingredients. Beat the cream cheese and sugar with an electric mixer on medium speed until thoroughly combined. Add the egg and lemon juice, and mix well.
Make the cake
Prepare for baking. Heat the oven to 350°F. Grease an 8-inch square baking pan. Alternatively, you can line the pan with parchment paper and grease the paper.
Combine the dry ingredients. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and lemon zest.
Combine the wet ingredients. Beat the butter and sugar with an electric mixer on medium speed until the mixture is fluffy and lightened in color. Mix in the egg and lemon juice.
Add the dry ingredients and milk to the wet ingredients. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture in three portions alternating with two portions of the milk. Don’t over-mix; mix just until combined.
Assemble the layers. Transfer about half of the cake batter to the prepared pan, spreading it evenly. Top with the filling mixture, carefully spreading it almost to the edges. Dollop the remaining cake batter on top of the filling, and gently spread it to cover the filling. Sprinkle the topping mixture over the top of the cake.
Bake. Place the pan in the heated oven, and bake 30 to 35 minutes. The cake is done when the edges are golden brown and a pick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Cool. Place the freshly baked cake on a wire rack and allow the cake to cool before serving.
Tips for Success
- Use fresh lemons. For the best flavor, use fresh lemon juice and zest. Learn more: How to Zest and Juice Lemons
- Use a light-colored metal baking pan. The cake will bake more thoroughly and evenly in this type of pan.
- Don’t over-mix. Too much mixing can lead to dense, tough cake. When it’s time to add the flour and milk, mix just until the batter is combined.
How to Store
After the cake has cooled, store it tightly covered in the refrigerator. Make sure it’s well-sealed, as the refrigerator can make cake dry over time. Properly stored, the cake should keep up to 5 days.
Let servings come to room temperature before serving. If you like, you can briefly warm servings in the microwave.
How to Freeze
Wrap any remaining cake in two layers of plastic wrap and then wrap again in aluminum foil or place in a freezer-safe container or zip-top bag. Make sure the cake has cooled completely before storing. It should keep up to 3 months in the freezer. Thaw the cake overnight in the refrigerator.