A slice of lemon layer cake on a white plate

Lemon Layer Cake

  • Author: Julianne Dell
  • Prep Time: 1 hour
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 25 minutes
  • Yield: 10 slices


With layers of moist cake and lemon-infused mascarpone whipped cream, every bite of this Lemon Layer Cake is a citrus lover’s paradise. Sweet but not overly so, this lemon dessert is perfect for spring and summer!


For the Cake:

  •  2 cups (380g) granulated sugar
  • ½ cup (118 ml) vegetable oil
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 lemons- zested and juiced (1/4 cup)
  • 1 teaspoon (5ml) Lemon (or vanilla) extract
  • ½ cup (118 ml) sour cream
  • 2 ½ cups (350 g) all-purpose flour
  • 3 teaspoons (11.2 g) baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon (5 g) salt
  • 1 cup (236 ml) buttermilk (or milk)
  • 1/4 cup (59ml)  fresh lemon juice

For the frosting:

  • 16 ounces (452g) mascarpone cheese, cold
  • 2 ¼ cups (532ml) heavy whipping cream
  • 1 cup (130g) powdered sugar
  • 1 large lemon, zested
  • Fresh fruit for garnish


For the Cake

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Prepare three 8-inch round baking pans, line the bottom with parchment paper, then grease and flour the sides. Prepare bake even stripes if desired.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the sugar, vegetable oil, eggs, and lemon extract. Beat on medium speed until the well incorporated. Scrape down the bowl as needed.
  3. Next, zest 2 lemons (then set them aside to be juiced) and add it to the batter as well as the sour cream. Beat until well combined.
  4. Combine the dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Alternate adding half of the dry ingredients followed by half the liquid ingredients (lemon juice and buttermilk) and mix just until the flour starts to incorporate. Repeat until all the ingredients are added and well combined. Mix with a spatula to ensure it’s well combined.
  5.  Divide the batter evenly between the three pans, about 1 2/3 cups of batter per pan. Bake at 350°F for 20-23 minutes. Rotate your pans around in the oven halfway through baking. Test the cake for doneness by inserting a toothpick into the center of the cake. If the toothpick comes out clean, the cake is done. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.

For the Frosting:

  1. Place the mixing bowl and whisk attachment in the freezer for 5 to 10 minutes to chill.
  2. Spoon the cold mascarpone cream into the bowl and beat on a medium-low speed (speed 3 on your stand mixer). Slowly pour in the heavy cream, about 1/4-1/2 cup, allowing the mascarpone cheese to turn to a liquid consistency. Then adding the remaining heavy cream. Increase the mixing speed to high (speed 8-10) and beat it until soft peaks form.
  3. Next, add the powdered sugar and lemon zest, beating on low until sugar is incorporated. Then continue beating at a high speed until stiff peaks form.

To Assemble the Cake

  1.  Use a cake leveler to cut the domes off the top of the cake. Place a dollop of frosting on your cake board and place the bottom layer of cake on top of that.
  2. Place half of the whipped cream in a large piping bag fitted with a large open round tip, or simply cut off the end of the piping bag. Pipe a thin layer of frosting and spread evenly. Add the second layer of cake and repeat the above steps; add the final layer of cake on top, and invert it so the bottom of the cake layer is now the top of the cake. 
  3. Use your piping bag to fill in any gaps between your layers and to create a crumb coat. Using an offset spatula or icing smoother, wipe away the excess frosting, leaving you just enough to coat the outside of the cake. Do not mix your crumb coating frosting back into your icing if it has cake debris in it.
  4. Separate out 1 ¼ cups of frosting to decorate with. Use the remaining frosting to decorate the sides. Fill a large piping bag, cut off the edge of the bag and pipe around the outside edge of the cake, working from the bottom up. Gently smooth with an offset spatula. Decorate and garnish with fresh berries.
Nutrition Information:
1 Slice
54.1 g
318.1 mg
46.2 g
80.7 g
0.9 g
10.1 g
153.4 mg
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American