Lemon Buttermilk Cake with Lemon Glaze

My daughter loves lemon desserts and I had a ton of lemons and some buttermilk to use.

Lucky for her, I made a lemon cake.

Lemon Buttermilk Cake with Lemon Glaze - An easy little cake with big lemon flavor!! Soft, fluffy, and foolproof if you like puckering up!!

And lucky for me too because in the past couple years, lemon desserts have really been growing on me.

If you’re a lemon lover, you’ll love the perfectly tart yet just sweet enough big pop of lemon flavor this soft and fluffy cake has.

MY OTHER RECIPES

Lemon Buttermilk Cake with Lemon Glaze - An easy little cake with big lemon flavor!! Soft, fluffy, and foolproof if you like puckering up!!

I used my favorite, foolproof, no mixer, buttermilk cake recipe and worked in lemon three ways: lemon juice, lemon zest, and lemon extract.

If I’m eating a lemon dessert, I want to know it’s there. Hint-of-lemon isn’t really my style. Go big or go home.

Lemon Buttermilk Cake with Lemon Glaze - An easy little cake with big lemon flavor!! Soft, fluffy, and foolproof if you like puckering up!!

I’ve used this cake base for so many cakes including Blueberry Muffin and Buttermilk Pancakes CakeCream Cheese-Swirled Cherry and Mixed Berries Cake, The Best Pineapple Upside-Down Cake, and Caramelized Banana Upside-Down CakeVanilla Cake with Vanilla Bean Browned Butter Glaze, and many more.

I love the cake base because it’s fast and easy to make, and the cakes always turn out supremely moist, springy, and fluffy thanks to buttermilk, sour cream, and oil. That trifecta of moisturizing and tenderizing ingredients makes it impossible to have a dry cake.

Lemon Buttermilk Cake with Lemon Glaze - An easy little cake with big lemon flavor!! Soft, fluffy, and foolproof if you like puckering up!!

The glaze really helps boost the overall lemon profile of the cake. It’s zingy, tangy-yet-sweet, and after pouring the glaze over the warm cake, it seeps into the cake, and makes it even moister, softer, and more lemony.

In the current sea of apple and pumpkin recipes, puckering up is a nice change.

Lemon Buttermilk Cake with Lemon Glaze - An easy little cake with big lemon flavor!! Soft, fluffy, and foolproof if you like puckering up!!

Lemon Buttermilk Cake with Lemon Glaze

If you’re a lemon lover, you’ll love the perfectly tart yet just sweet enough big pop of lemon flavor this soft and fluffy cake has. I used my favorite, foolproof, no mixer, buttermilk cake recipe and worked in lemon three ways: lemon juice, lemon zest, and lemon extract. I love the cake base because it’s fast, easy, and the cakes always turn out supremely moist, springy, and fluffy thanks to buttermilk, sour cream, and oil.The glaze really helps boost the overall lemon profile of the cake. It’s zingy, tangy-yet-sweet, and after pouring the glaze over the warm cake, it seeps into the cake, and makes it even moister, softer, and more lemony.

Ingredients:

Cake
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
pinch salt, optional and to taste
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 large egg
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup sour cream, lite is okay (plain Greek yogurt may be substituted)
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
2 teaspoons lemon extract (vanilla extract may be substituted)

Glaze
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
about 1/3 cup lemon juice, or as necessary for consistency
about 1 tablespoon lemon zest, or to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8-by-8-inch baking pan with aluminum foil, spray with cooking spray; set aside.
  2. Cake – In a large bowl, whisk together flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, optional salt.
  3. Whisk in zemon zest; set aside.
  4. In a separate small bowl, whisk together the egg, buttermilk, sour cream, lemon juice, oil, and lemon extract.
  5. Add the wet mixture to the dry, mixing lightly with a spoon or folding with a spatula until just combined. Small lumps will be present, don’t overmix or try to stir them smooth.
  6. Turn batter out into prepared pan and bake for about 28 to 31 minutes, or until center is set and not jiggly, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs, but no batter.
  7. Place pan on a wire rack and allow cake to cool. While cake cools, make the glaze.
  8. Glaze – In a medium bowl, add 2 cup confectioners’ sugar, 1/3 cup lemon juice, and whisk until smooth. As necessary, add additional lemon juice (or sugar) to reach desired glaze consistency. I used slightly over 1/3 cup lemon juice. Glaze should be easily pourable.
  9. Evenly pour glaze over cake (doesn’t have to be fully cooled), smoothing it lightly with a spatula if necessary, but glaze will likely just slide into place.
  10. Allow cake to cool in pan uncovered for at least 1 hour (or overnight and cover with a sheet of foil) before slicing and serving so glaze can set up. Cake will keep airtight at room temperature for up to 5 days, or in the freezer for up to 6 months.

Cake base adapted from Blueberry Muffin and Buttermilk Pancakes Cake and Vanilla Cake with Vanilla Bean Browned Butter Glaze, Glaze adapted from Lemon Lemonies

Only Eats

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76 comments on “Lemon Buttermilk Cake with Lemon Glaze”

  1. Like your daughter, I loooooove lemon desserts! And I like them majorly lemony. Love this!

  2. Lemon desserts are sneaky. They’re not as hyped as chocolate-based treats, but just as addictive.
    And I can tell this one is bursting with lemon flavor! It’s got such great texture!

    • They’re not as hyped as chocolate-based treats, correct, but I’ve found with blogging that the people who love lemon desserts are die-hard, crazy-over-the-top will do anything for them. More so than your average chocolate fan. Haha!

  3. This looks like a classic! I wasn’t a fan of anything with even a hint of sour/tart when I was Skylar’s age–and I think it’s just been in the past decade that I’ve started liking lemon desserts. I love citrus zest though–it gives the essence without too much sourness. Lovely recipe and a good choice for something a little different right now!

    • Thanks, Paula, about it being a good choice. I’m the queen of pumpkin :) but even I needed a breath of fresh air and this cake was zingy and zippy and hit the spot. And I’m with you on citrus desserts being a recent thing!

  4. Looks amazing Averie! Well done…

  5. Total lemon lover right here. Now that I’ve seen this delicious lemon cake and all of your other lemon recipes, I’m craving something lemony for breakfast! LOVE this cake, Averie!

  6. This cake looks so gorgeous, Averie! The lighting works so well in these pictures! :) I’ve never heard of a lemon buttermilk cake before, so I’m intrigued! I love how moist and delicious this looks!

    • Cakes with buttermilk are almost always moister than cakes without (unless there’s bananas or pumpkin involved, usually they can compensate for lack of buttermilk) but in a lighter cake like this, the buttermilk adds awesome moisture!

  7. I adore lemon desserts! This cake sounds amazing! Pinned of course!

  8. I rarely bake with lemon – I don’t even know why?! These look delicious, especially that lemony icing. Yum!

  9. I am a citrus fanatic, so this is SCREAMING my name!

  10. You know I’m not a cake person, but if I am going to eat cake, lemon is my preference.

    True story: my older sister’s wedding cake was mis-made and the bottom (AKA biggest) layer was supposed to be chocolate but was lemon poppy seed. I was in college at the time, and brought back at least 1/3 of it (probably the equivalent of 2-3 normal two- layer cakes made in 8 in circle pans). My roomates and I sat on the floor with forks and just DEVOURED it in one night. It was EPIC. And SO good!

    • I love stories like that :) Those are lifetime memories. I have memories of those with ‘nachos’ made in the microwave :) Devouring mass amounts and loving every second!

      I cannot believe that about her cake being made wrong. How do they get from chocolate to lemon poppyseed???! OMG she had to have been ticked! I hope they gave her the cake on the house after all that!

  11. I’m a lemon lover. These are right up my alley! And that blueberry lemon cake? Yeah I need that.

  12. I’m a take-it-or-leave-it person when it comes to cakes, but yours have always been good, and since I love lemon, this sounds like a winner.

  13. Lucky daughter indeed!! The cake looks perfectly delicious :)

  14. Your daughter has good taste! This looks delicious!!!

  15. My husband loves lemon cake and I’m sure would love this recipe!

  16. Yes, as much as I like apples and pumpkins, I love the idea of mixing it up a bit with a lemony cake! I’m also a huge fan of recipe bases that can be used for multiple cakes, dishes, and meals – genius!

  17. Let me know if your adopting because that is one lucky daughter!!! I love lemon desserts too..I think because they are usually lighter and tart…I love the combination of sweet and tart just as much as sweet and salty…another great recipe.

  18. I am all about the lemon! It has no season to me, and the more lemon the better

  19. Can I be your daughter, too? I love this cake and all of the other lemony treats too!

  20. I was just telling myself it’s been too long since I made lemon. This is fabulous and your pics are gorgeous!

    • Thanks, Dorothy, and for pinning too. And I know you love lemon stuff! And if nothing else, at least with light-colored cakes like this, it buys me one or two stops on my ISO settings. I’ll take a lemon cake over brownies just for that reason alone. lol

  21. Woah, this looks great! I love lemon desserts!

  22. Looks great Averie! Buttermilk really makes a difference in desserts. Pinned!

  23. Love lemony cake, and I am imagining some of that glaze soaking right into the warm cake- luscious!

  24. a buttermilk cake alone is amazing let alone the addition of the zesty fresh sweet lemon flavor! YUM!

  25. Juice, zest and extract?! I am in!! this cake looks right up my lemon lovin alley :)

  26. My lips are puckering just looking at this cake. LOVE lemon desserts!

  27. This recipe is awesome! Growing up, I was ALWAYS the lemon head. I never went for chocolate anything, but give me lemon sorbet or lemon cake or yogurt any day of the week. Simeon, who seems to take after me in every way, is the same way. So, we made this tonight. He absolutely loved it and has asked for “3 or so pieces” to be put in his lunch tomorrow. LOL. Also, seriously, we made your pumpkin french toast this morning for breakfast. The boys both thought it was delicious. And tomorrow, we are going to whip up one of your donut desserts! Not sure which one yet, but thinking about this baby:
    https://www.averiecooks.com/2011/11/baked-vanilla-donuts-with-vanilla-glaze.html
    Your recipes are so fun to make with my kids. Thanks, Averie! Also, Simeon has dogeared a bunch of pages in the pumpkin cookbook! :-D

    • Wow you have been busy in the kitchen and leave it to you to make a cake the same day I posted it and glad it was a hit so that 3 or so pieces were requested to be put into the lunchbox! Love that!

      And this is on the heels of pumpkin french toast for breakfast, while contemplating donuts…sounds about perfect to me! And happy donut making! Those are classic vanilla donuts and I think you guys will love them!

  28. I LOVE lemon things, this cake looks divine! Your photos are so fresh and summery! Delicious!

  29. My brother must love lemon desserts as much as your daughter. Whenever I post one, it’s the only time he ever leaves a comment on my blog! ;) And it’s so true about lemon desserts this time of year. I’m almost (but not quite — that’d be impossible) getting a tiny bit tired of pumpkin, so its bright flavor is perfect to balance out all the spice!

  30. I absolutely LOVE lemon desserts. I have a bag full of lemons I need to use and this is perfect!

  31. Yummm these look so tasty! Thanks for sharing!
    -Nicole
    http://www.lungesandlace.com

  32. Made this last night cuz I was in the mood for tart-sweet, not sweet-sweet, and we needed (well, maybe “need” isn’t QUITE the right word … ) a dessert. Yum! The glaze makes the cake.

  33. I prefer a strong lemon kick in my lemon desserts too! Yum!

  34. You know I have a thing for yellow. My heart just skipped a beat!! ;)

  35. Love this Averie! Jorge really enjoys lemon desserts. Sometimes he makes lemon bars. Sometimes lemon tart. I’ll definitely pass this recipe along to him :)

  36. Averie this cake is so so spongy!! Best cake ever!!

  37. OH. MY. GOODNESS. I absolutely love lemon desserts and cannot WAIT to try this one!

  38. This cake looks so perfectly fluffy and moist!

  39. Averie, this is a fantastic recipe! I told my daughter we would make orange cake based on a picture of a recipe and then when I looked at the recipe and saw 1 cup of butter and 2 cups of sugar, I knew that was going to be a candy bar rather than a cake!

    So I modified this recipe – didn’t have any sour cream, lemon/orange extract or buttermilk. I substituted yogurt and yogurt + vanilla extract and almond extract and did the rest as directed.

    It came out fantastic! You’ve definitely got your ratios down in this one and i’ll probably never buy another box of cake mix.

    Unfortunately, you’ve made it too easy to have cake any time!

    Thanks!

    • The fact that you’ll probably never buy a box of cake mix after trying this cake is amazing praise and thanks for trying it AND thanks for being so resourceful given you didn’t have sour cream or buttermilk but had yogurt…perfect! And vanilla + almond extracts are great. If you go through the related recipes in the post, many of those cakes are this same cake base, just with different twists, i.e. cream cheese, fruit of all types, glazes, no glazes, etc. SUPER versatile, love this base and glad you do too!

  40. Hi Averie! I signed up to bring a lemon “something” to my work dessert feast next week and planned on making this cake. Then, I saw your Best Lemon Bars recipe. Oh, no! What to do?! They both look SO yummy…would you recommend one over the other?

    • It kind of depends what you want…this cake is light, fluffy, and like a lemon cake would be. The lemon bars are a classic lemon bar, but pretty intensely lemon. And then there’s Lemon Lemonies. I would say they’re actually my favorite because they’re ‘fudgy’ in terms of texture like a brownie, very lemony, love the glaze but I will always personally choose the mouth-feel of a fudgy thing over a cake-like thing….LMK what you end up making!
      https://www.averiecooks.com/2014/06/lemon-lemonies.html

  41. Can you double this recipe and make a layer cake with two 8x8s?

    • I think you just asked this question on another recipe and my answer is the same on anything I haven’t personally tried….Probably but I haven’t tried so cannot speak with certainty.

      Have fun experimenting!

  42. yummy i love this, delicious, thanks for sharing this recipe.

    Simon

  43. Finally got around to making one of your lemon recipes, and this hit the spot. I was in the mood for something citrus-ey. Yum! One down, several more to go …

  44. Oh wait, I just noticed, I HAVE made this before AND I commented on it. Oops. I swear, my brain is disengaged from my body … so much for trying a new recipe.

    • I have REMADE my old recipes thinking oh wow this is going to be sooo good. Only to realize after the fact, I already had this idea. Like 3 yrs ago :) Glad they cake was great the 2nd time around!

  45. Averi thank you for the Lemon Buttermilk Cake recipe.Baked them this avo it was beautiful, moist & tangy.Once again thank you.

  46. Averie, I would like to thank you for the Lemon Buttermilk Cake recipe. I made it last week and it was delicious – a real hit. I’m also glad it freezes really well: I’m always on the lookout for things that freeze well. It will be going into my favourite recipes file. Thanks again! :)

    • Thanks for trying the recipe and I’m glad it came out great for you! And glad it works out well for you with freezing it and that it’s going into your favourite recipes file!

  47. So I made the lemon cake.  Not fluffy athe all.  Very dense, moist and tasty though.

  48. OK…just made it!….I’m a total lemon head 😋‼️ Instead of a sugary glaze, I made a nice lemon sauce, that’s similar to a lemon curd.  Can’t wait to try it, it’s hard…I’m drooling…lol  😋  If it’s lemon I love it.  Hmmmmm… I wonder if poppy seeds would be good, or blueberries?  I love to experiment with recipes.  Thanks for the recipe‼️

    • Thanks for trying the recipe and glad it came out great for you!

      Others have used poppyseeds and while I haven’t baked blueberries into this cake, I adapted the recipe from an old lemon blueberry cake of mine which we loved.

  49. This recipe looks so good, I mixed in some blueberries and it smells wonderful!

  50. Hi! I am a big fan of lemon desserts and I cant wait to bake this cake. I have two questions though. As I find glazes way too sweet, I want to make this as an 8 or 9 inch round cake with lemon or orange mousse. Is this cake appropriate for a mousse cake? Like, this recipe as a base, put it in a round pan and adding a generous amount of mousse? I love lemon mousse but ive only made it on a chocolate or vanilla base. Thanks in advance♡
    Monica

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