slice of lemon buttermilk cake on white plate with fork

Lemon Buttermilk Cake – Chef Dennis

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This simple southern Lemon Buttermilk Layer Cake is a classic dessert that is perfect for the spring and summer months. Light and fluffy with a tangy lemon cream cheese frosting, it’s a delightfully refreshing dessert that your friends and family will love!

slice of lemon buttermilk cake on white plate with fork

This delicious cake is perfect for the lemon lovers in your household, and although I don’t make it often enough, it’s one of my all-time favorite cake recipes.

If you love lemon desserts, my Lemon Cheesecake and Lemon Gelato are must-try recipes!

decorated whole lemon buttermilk cake

Lemon desserts always seem so refreshing and the lemon flavor makes a delicoius after-dinner treat. It’s the perfect cake for dinner parties, brunch or showers.

What ingredients do I need to make a Lemon Buttermilk Cake?

ingredients to make a lemon buttermilk cake

Let’s start by gathering the ingredients we need to make Lemon Buttermilk Cake. In Chef Speak this is called the “Mise en Place” which translates to “Everything in its Place”.

Not only does setting your ingredients up ahead of time speed up the cooking process, it also helps ensure you have everything you need to make the dish.

How do I make a Lemon Buttermilk Cake?

four images showing how to start making the lemon cake
  • Place the butter and sugar into a large mixing bowl,
  • Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until well blended and a pale yellow in color.
  • Whisk the eggs, buttermilk, fresh lemon juice, vanilla extract, and lemon extract together in a bowl and set aside until needed.
  • In another mixing bowl whisk together the all purpose flour, baking powder, and salt.
four images showing how to finish the cake batter
  • Add ⅓ of the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and mix in until just combined.
  • Add in half of the buttermilk mixture and combine.
  • Repeat this process until all of the flour and milk have been added in, adding the lemon zest with the last addition of the flour.
  • Use a rubber spatula to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl during the process to make sure everything is mixed in.
two images showing unbaked cakes and baked cakes
  • Divide the cake batter among the three prepared pans.
  • Bake at 350 for 25 -30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cakes sit in the pans for 5 minutes and then remove from the pans and transfer to a wire rack to cool.

*Allow layers to cool completely before assembly and frosting.

How to make lemon cream cheese frosting

6 images showing how to make the cream cheese frosting
  • Place the butter and cream cheese into the bowl of a stand mixer (or a large mixing bowl)
  • Beat together butter and cream cheese until creamy, about 2-3 minutes.
  • Add the lemon juice, vanilla extract, and salt
  • Mix until just combined. Con’t be tempted to overwhip at this stage.
  • Slowly mix in the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time until you have the desired consistency for the frosting.
  • beat mixture until smooth and creamy. Don’t over mix!

How to assemble a lemon buttermilk cake

four images showing how to assemble lemon cake
  • Place the first layer of cake upside down on a cake stand or serving plate. Add about 1 cup of the cream cheese frosting to the layer and spread it evenly on top of the cake.
  • Place the second layer of cake right side up onto the frosted layer. Repeat the process from the first layer. Add the final layer of the cake with the pan side down, onto the frosted cake layers. Top with cream cheese frosting, creating a thicker layer. Add a very light layer of frosting on the sides as a crumb coat.
  • When the crumb coat has dried finish frosting the sides of the cake and using a pastry bag add swirls of frosting around the outside edge of the top of the cake. This is optional.
  • Add a ring of lemon slices cut in half around the outside of the bottom of the cake for decoration. This is optional.
slice of lemon buttermilk being taken out of whole cake

There is something special about Southern Style Cakes, the overall flavor and texture is what all cakes should apire too. Wouldn’t your friends and family love to sit down to slice of this delicious Lemon Buttermilk Cake?

Recipe FAQ’s

What does buttermilk do to a cake?

Buttermilk acts as a tenderizer of sorts, helping to make cakes and baked goods moist right from the start.
Buttermilk is tangy, and although you might not notice its flavor in a buttermilk cake, it keeps the cake from being too sweet and gives it a rich, buttery taste.
Buttermilk also helps the cake rise.

What is a crumb coat?

A crumb coat is a very thin layer of frosting used to seal in the cake’s moisture and provide an even base for additional frosting. Allow the crumb coat to dry and you’ll be able to finish frosting the cake without any visible cake crumbs.

How long will this cake last?

Sitting out at room temperature this cake will last 3 days. Refrigerated the cake will last for 7-10 days in the refrigerator. Make sure the cake is well covered.

More Cake Recipes You’ll Love!

slice of lemon buttermilk being taken out of whole cake

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Lemon Buttermilk Cake

This simple southern Lemon Buttermilk Layer Cake is a classic dessert that is perfect for the spring and summer months. Light and fluffy with a tangy lemon cream cheese frosting, it’s a delightfully refreshing dessert that your friends and family will love!

Prep Time30 mins

Cook Time30 mins

Resting Time30 mins

Total Time1 hr 30 mins

Course: Dessert

Cuisine: American

Servings: 16

Calories: 631kcal

Author: Chef Dennis Littley

Ingredients

Lemon Cake

  • 8 oz butter
  • 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
  • 3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 ½ cups buttermilk
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon lemon extract
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 8 ounces butter softened
  • 12 ounces cream cheese room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • tsp salt
  • 5-6 cups powdered sugar

Assembly

  • 2 lemons cut into slices for garnish – optional

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Instructions

Lemon Cake

  • Grease three 9-inch pans with butter and line the bottom with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

  • Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until well blended and a pale yellow in color.

  • Whisk the eggs, buttermilk, lemon juice, vanilla extract, and lemon extract together in a bowl and set aside until needed.

  • In another mixing bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

  • Add ⅓ of the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and mix in until just combined.

  • Add in half of the milk mixture and combine. Repeat this process until all of the flour and milk have been added in, adding the lemon zest with the last addition of the flour.

  • Use a rubber spatula to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl during the process to make sure everything is mixed in.

  • Divide the batter among the three prepared pans.

  • Bake at 350 for 25 -30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

  • Let the cakes sit in the pans for 5 minutes and then remove them from the pans and transfer the layers to a wire rack to cool. *Allow layers to cool completely before assembly and frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • In a large mixing bowl using an electric mixer beat together butter and cream cheese until creamy, 2-3 minutes.

  • Add lemon juice, vanilla extract, and pinch of salt and mix until just combined,

  • Slowly mix in the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time until you have the desired consistency for the frosting.

Assembly

  • Place the first layer of cake upside down on a cake stand or serving plate. Add about 1 cup of frosting to the layer and spread it evenly on top of the cake.

  • Place the second layer of cake right side up onto the frosted layer. Repeat the process from the first layer.

  • Add the final layer of the cake with the pan side down, onto the frosted cake layers. Top with cream cheese frosting, creating a thicker layer.

  • Add a very light layer of frosting on the sides of the cake to act as a crumb coat.

  • When the crumb coat has dried finish frosting the sides of the cake.

  • Using a pastry bag add swirls of frosting around the outside edge of the top of the cake. This is optional.

  • Add a ring of lemon slices cut in half around the outside of the bottom of the cake for decoration. This is optional.

  • Refrigerate the cake for at least one hour before serving.

Nutrition

Calories: 631kcal | Carbohydrates: 82g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 32g | Saturated Fat: 20g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 8g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 120mg | Sodium: 182mg | Potassium: 236mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 58g | Vitamin A: 1085IU | Vitamin C: 10mg | Calcium: 111mg | Iron: 2mg



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