It's weird how much time I spend thinking about cake. I basically imagine a cake I haven't even eaten, but know I want to. In this case I wanted a cake that was soft, but not like a sponge cake, satisfyingly lemony, but with none of that artificial flavor. No heavy frostings, but a tart cream cheese meets lemon sweetness glaze. Now that seemed like a great idea. And it is. This Lemon Cake with Cream Cheese Glaze is finally exactly as I imagined it.
I say finally because the path to this cake was paved with a few failures, but let's not dwell on those okay?
Ingredients in Easy Lemon Cake with Cream Cheese Glaze
- Baking Powder
- Baking Soda
- Butter or Oil
- Lemon Juice
- Lemon Zest
- Cream Cheese
- Icing Sugar
What if I don't have Buttermilk?
No Buttermilk, no problem. Simply add your lemon juice for the cake into regular milk before you start making the cake. By the time it's ready to go in the milk will have curdled slightly and is ready to use.
Can I skip the Cream Cheese Glaze?
I think so! This cake has lovely flavour and stands well on it's own. I like the cream cheese glaze on it because it is such a lovely counterpoint to the cake. If you are skipping it then can I suggest reducing the lemon juice by ½ tbsp to 2.5 tbsp, the zest to 1 tbsp and sugar to 1 cup. That gentler flavor will do better on it's own.
Should I make the Cake with Butter or Oil?
The answer to that question lies within you. Dig my cryptic response? Probably not.
The way it works is this: butter will give the Lemon Cake with Cream Cheese better flavor and a firmer texture. Oil has less flavor, but man oh man is that cake soft and moist! Both taste great, but I will admit that I have a soft spot for the oil version. Full disclaimer: The video in this post was recorded during one of the buttery incarnations.
Cornstarch in Cake?
Here's a little baking nerdiness for you guys. Cake Flour is considered a lighter protein flour and it's milled from a different kind of wheat than standard all purpose flour. Cakes made with cake flour tend to be far softer than their all purpose flour counterparts. However, not everyone has cake flour handy in their pantries. The DIY version calls for sifting cornstarch with all purpose flour several times. While that produces a lovely airy lightness this mama has got no time for that so instead I whisk in a little cornstarch with my dry ingredients and it definitely makes a difference in the texture!
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Made this cake? Hope you loved it! Rate it by clicking the number of stars directly on the recipe card! You can also tag me on Instagram @flourandspiceblog - I love to see your recreations!
- 1 ¾ cup All Purpose Flour
- 2 tbsp Cornstarch
- 1 tsp Baking Powder
- ½ tsp Baking Soda
- ½ tsp Salt
- ½ cup Room Temperature Butter or Oil
- 1 ¼ cup Sugar (see notes)
- 1.5 tbsp Lemon Zest (1.5 lemon)
- 2 Eggs
- 1 Egg Yolk
- 3 tbsp Lemon Juice (½ a juicy lemon)
- ¾ cup Buttermilk
- 2 oz Cream Cheese
- ¾-1 cup Icing Sugar
- 3-4 tbsp Whipping Cream or Milk
- 1 tbsp Lemon Juice
Preheat the oven to 350F and grease and flour your cake pan
Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cornstarch in a bowl and set aside.
Whip the butter/oil and sugar together till well combined
Mix in Lemon Zest
Now add the eggs and yolk in three additions, mixing really well between each. The batter will become fluffier.
Add the lemon juice to the buttermilk.
With the mixer on low add half the dry ingredients, then half the buttermilk mix, then the remaining dry ingredients and finally the remaining buttermilk.
Turn the speed up just a little to combine, stopping to scrape the sides with a spatula. Don't overmix - your batter will be thicker if you used butter and runnier if you use oil.
Pour the batter into your prepared tin and bake for 40-45 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. I suggest peeking in at the 35 minute mark because oven temperatures can vary.
Let the cake cool in the tin for a few minutes then invert onto your cake plate
In a small bowl mix the cream cheese until smooth
With the mixer on low add 1 cup of icing sugar and lemon juice and mix until it incorporates into the cream cheese mix
Whisk in 3 tbsp of cream or 2 tbsp of milk.
Spread the icing on your cake with a spoon and decorate with your favorite fruit or a little lemon zest or just leave it as is!
This amount of sugar produces a sweet and tart lemon cake. If you like your cakes less sweet then I recommend dropping the sugar to 1 cup.
Please read the post for buttermilk substitutes, a comparison of oil and butter, and why I use cornstarch (which you can omit if you don't have it)