This lemon velvet cake is luscious and easy to make. The crumb is tender and moist. A homemade cake does not have to be hard!
Layers of soft lemon cake wrapped in a luscious lemon frosting, this citrus twist on a velvet cake is a must make. The recipe is super simple to make. There’s no butter to soften or crazy ingredients to get. You’ll have it in the oven in no time and you’ll be thanking your lucky stars after the first bite!
I originally shared this recipe back in 2017. It was fabulous then, but I didn’t really like the way the cake was decorated.
It was such a good cake the first time around, I knew it was worth a revisit. It’s not terrible having an excuse to go back and remake some of our favorite cakes after all!
I found the recipe on the Tumbleweed Contessa way back when. Her lemon velvet cake caught my eye and I knew I had to make it.
You know I love a good homemade cake, but spare time for complicated baking is always hard to come by. Luckily there are some great, simple homemade cake recipes out there.
This one instantly caught my eye as something quick and approachable. For whatever reason it sort of reminded me of my devilishly good chocolate cake.
Of course besides the fact they both contain flour and sugar, they really aren’t that similar. But I was drawn to it anyway.
I have been craving bright flavors. This winter has been dragging on and I will take any hint of sunshine I can get, even if that is just in the form of lemons.
In the heat of the summer the tang of citrus is also welcome, but it can’t be all orange creamsicle cheesecake all of the time. So this lemon cake is perfect for summer gatherings as well!
I couldn’t wait to whip this up and share it at family dinner. It came together as quickly as I had imagined. If the idea of homemade cake is scary to you, I hope you’ll make the leap and give it a try.
There are so many recipes that are really almost as easy as the box mixes. Plus you get the satisfaction of knowing you did it yourself!
If you don’t believe me, check out the YouTube video of me making this cake. You will see it really is quick and simple.
This cake was really well received. It had a really nice crumb and it served like a dream. The last time I made it, I tried to get fancy and candy some lemon for garnish.
Things were going really well but all of the sudden it started caramelizing on me. So they ended up darker than I had envisioned, but they smelled wonderful and were actually still quite tasty.
I told myself I’d have to make this cake again so I could conquer the lemons! It would be a sacrifice, but I was willing to eat more cake… err, I mean perfect the culinary technique!
Of course when I got around to making the cake again I skipped the candied lemon altogether. Instead I piped on a few little swirls of lemon sweetened condensed milk frosting and some fun sprinkles to jazz it up.
Now I have to make it again sometime so I can conquer those lemons for once and for all!
What makes it a velvet cake?
Velvet cakes are typically very soft and delicious. The most popular, and likely original, version is the red velvet cake.
The vinegar and buttermilk in the batter help give the cocoa powder a reddish tint. Of course a ton of red food coloring helps to enhance it!
In this lemon version, of course we didn’t add any cocoa powder. Also lemon juice replaces the vinegar.
You still get the benefits of the acid, but with the flavor of lemon! Another thing that makes velvet cakes stand out from others is most of them use oil instead of creamed butter as the base.
This makes them even more affordable and quick and easy to make. You don’t have to wait for the butter to soften, just grab the oil and go!
While you would traditionally use buttermilk in a velvet cake, I almost never have buttermilk on hand. Instead, I put a teaspoon of lemon juice into a cup of milk before I gather the rest of the ingredients.
By the time I am ready to use it, the acid has had a chance to work its magic on the milk. It does the job quite nicely without having to use any special ingredients.
Though my brother and sister-in-law keep powdered buttermilk on hand for things like this and pancakes. I should pick up a can sometime and see what I think!
Handy Items to Have on Hand for Baking Homemade Cakes:
- You can definitely use a stand mixer for whipping up the batter, but I tend to use a hand mixer for this batter. It easily whips up the oil and everything goes right in the dishwasher!
- Two 9″ cake pans are perfect for this recipe. I am sure you can bake it in a 9×13″ pan. I would start checking on it at about 35-40 minutes. It is done when the center springs back after you touch it lightly with your finger.
- I do tend to use moistened cake strips when I bake cakes. Otherwise the outside of the cake bakes quicker than the middle and you are more likely to have a hump. The moist strips help the cakes to bake flatter.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I tier this cake?
I wouldn’t stack these velvet cakes any higher than two layers tall. The crumb is really light and airy. The weight of stacking too many layers will compress the bottom layers and change the texture.
Can I bake this in a 9×13 pan?
Yes! Just add a few minutes to the bake time and go for it!
How do I keep the cake tender?
Don’t overbake the cake. Velvet cakes have a tendency to dry out quickly if you bake them too long. To get the most tender airy cake, take it out as soon as it bounces back when lightly touched with a finger. If you prefer the toothpick test, go ahead and take it out when a crumb or two comes out on the toothpick. The cake will continue to cook a bit after you pull it from the oven.
Can I bake the cake ahead of time?
Yes, cakes freeze well. Allow it to cool slightly. When the cakes are cool enough to handle, wrap them in plastic wrap. (Be careful, the cakes are fragile when warm.) Once they are really wrapped well, put them in the freezer until you are ready to use them. You can frost them frozen or defrost them before putting on the buttercream. Either way works, it is a matter of preference.
For another great lemon cake, try making a homemade lemon Bundt cake. It is delicious and baked in a pretty tube pan making it easy to decorate.
Do you have a favorite variety of homemade cake? Have you tried any velvet cakes besides red velvet?
I am always ready to talk cake. Tell me all about your favorites in the comments or on social media.
Love this recipe? Give it a ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ review in the recipe card below!
- 2 1/2 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
- 3 large eggs
- 1 cup buttermilk (or 1 cup milk soured with 1 tsp lemon juice)
- 1 teaspoon lemon extract
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
- optional: yellow food coloring (I didn't use any but you could for a more vibrant yellow color)
- Preheat oven to 350° F and grease two 9" pans
- In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt and baking powder until completely combined and free of clumps.
- In a large bowl, beat together oil, eggs and sugar until light an fluffy.
- Add buttermilk, lemon extract, vanilla and lemon juice, whipping until combined.
- Stir in dry ingredients until just mixed and then spoon into prepared pans.
- Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick tests clean. Cool in pans for 10 minutes before inverting onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Lemon sweetened condensed milk buttercream compliments this cake perfectly!
As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases. Please view my disclosure page for more information.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 346Total Fat: 22gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 19gCholesterol: 35mgSodium: 206mgCarbohydrates: 35gFiber: 1gSugar: 20gProtein: 4g
All nutritional information is estimated and will depend on the exact ingredients you use.