This homemade lemon curd cake is a lemon and vanilla cake filled with lemon curd from scratch and frosted with the dreamiest cream cheese frosting. This lemon layer cake is made with fresh lemon juice and lemon zest!
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While I've already got a lemon and blueberry filled cake , I wanted another cake that just focused on that fresh and zingy lemon flavor! This lemon curd cake is made with my homemade lemon curd (though you can use store bought if you wish!) and the cake layers are made with fresh lemon juice.
Why you'll love this recipe!
- Reverse Creaming Method: This tender and moist cake is made using the reverse creaming method (which I use in a lot of my cake recipes!)
- Storebought is Fine: I've made my homemade lemon curd recipe, but you can easily use store bought lemon curd if you're in a hurry.
- Make Ahead: If you are making the lemon curd from scratch, you can make it a week ahead and keep in the refrigerator.
- Cream Cheese Frosting: The cake is frosted in my favorite whipped cream cheese frosting. This extra light frosting is perfect with the tart lemon curd and lemon cake!
- Flour: I've only tested this recipe with all purpose flour.
- Lemons: I needed about 2 lemons to get enough juice for both the lemon curd and the lemon cake, but you may need another lemon depending on how much juice you can get out of it!
- Eggs: what I love about this recipe is you can use the spare egg yolks from the cake for the lemon curd! You'll only have 1 egg yolk leftover, how about making these sourdough chocolate chip cookies from my pal Kayla?
- Baking Powder & Baking Soda: make sure your leavening agents haven't expired, otherwise the cake might not rise.
- Yogurt: I'm using full fat natural yogurt in the cake to make it extra moist.
- Sugar: the cake and the lemon curd only need white granulated sugar.
- Extract: I've used vanilla extract in the lemon curd and the frosting, but I love using Fiori di Sicilia for the cake! You can definitely just use vanilla extract in the cake, but this lemony vanilla extract will give you a real flavor boost!
See the recipe card for full information on ingredients and quantities.
Step by Step Instructions
Step 1: Start by the lemon curd. In a small saucepan, whisk the sugar with the lemon zest until the zest releases its oils, turning the sugar a very pale yellow.
Step 2: Add in the 3 egg yolks (make sure to save the whites for the cake) and whisk for about 2 minutes, or until pale and thick.
Step 3: Pour in the lemon juice and a pinch of salt and place over low heat. Whisk constantly until the mixture becomes very thick and glossy, this can take up to 10 minutes. Whisking constantly will stop the eggs from curdling!
Step 4: Remove the pan from the heat and add the butter, a cube at a time. Whisk until melted before adding the next piece of butter. Whisk in the vanilla extract and then pour into a bowl or jar to cool completely, then place in the fridge.
Step 5: Make the cake. Prepare the 8-inch baking pans by greasing them and lining them with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 350°Fahrenheit/175°Celsius. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine all of the dry ingredients. Add in the softened butter and beat on low speed until combined, it should almost look like wet sand.
Step 6: Add in the egg whites one at a time while mixing on low speed, then add in the whole egg.
Step 7: In a jug, whisk together all of the remaining wet ingredients. Slowly pour in ⅓ of the wet ingredients and mix on low, repeat twice more.
Step 8: Pour the cake batter into the prepared pans. Bake in the preheated oven for 30-32 minutes. Take them out of the oven and let them cool in the pans for 20 minutes before removing from the pans and letting cool on a wire cooling rack completely.
Step 9: Make the frosting. In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, or in a large mixing bowl with a hand held mixer, beat the heavy cream, sugar, salt and vanilla extract on low speed for 2 minutes. The sugar should have dissolved. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat for another 2 minutes until it looks like greek yogurt.
Step 10: Decrease the speed to low and add the cold cream cheese a spoonful at a time. Once it has all been added, stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Then mix on high speed for another 2 minutes until fluffy and smooth.
Step 11: Place one of the cooled cake layers down. Spread a very thin layer of cream cheese frosting down. Then fill a small piping bag with some of the frosting and pipe a border around the edge - this will help the lemon curd not seep out! Spread the lemon curd in the middle.
Step 12: Place the second cake layer on top. Cover the sides and top of the cake with the remaining frosting. Place in the fridge for 30 minutes so it can set before serving.
Expert Tips & Tricks
- Weigh the Ingredients: I highly recommend using a weighing scale to measure out your ingredients! It is the most accurate way to bake, and using measuring cups instead of a scale can lead to a dense and dry cake.
- Want a Different Buttercream? Check out this lemon buttercream recipe from my blueberry filled cake recipe!
- Three Layer Cake: Want to make this a 3 layer cake? Pour the cake batter into three 8-inch baking pans, you will have to slightly decrease the baking time to about 22-26 minutes.
- Room Temperature Ingredients: Make sure all of your ingredients are at room temperature before you start baking. If you use cold ingredients like eggs and yogurt in the cake, it will be harder to mix with the other ingredients and could lead to a tough and dry cake. The only thing you want to keep cool is the cream cheese and heavy cream for the frosting!
- Make the Lemon Curd First: I recommend making the lemon curd at least the day before, that way it has time to properly set and it's one less thing for you to do! Or, you can use store bought lemon curd.
- Frosting Barrier: To help the lemon curd not seep out the sides of the cake, I recommend piping a layer of frosting around the perimeter of the cake.
You can keep the assembled cake in the fridge for up to 5 days. I recommend covering it or storing in an airtight container so it doesn't dry out.
Yes, you can make the lemon curd up to 2 weeks in advance. You can make the cake layers 2 days in advance, just wrap tightly in clingfilm and place in the fridge until ready to assemble. You can make the frosting a day in advance, just store in the fridge.
Once you've assembled the cake, I recommend placing it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to let the frosting and the lemon curd set. This will give you much cleaner slices! Then, store the cake in the fridge.
Try these lemon-related recipes next!
Lemon Curd Cake
- 2 8-inch cake pans
- 2 ½ cups all purpose flour
- 12 tablespoons unsalted butter room temperature
- 1 ⅔ cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
- 4 egg whites room temperature
- 1 egg room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract or fiori di sicilia extract
- 1 cup whole milk room temperature
- ½ cup full fat yogurt room temperature
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 3 large egg yolks room temperature
- 5 tablespoons granulated sugar
- pinch salt
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- 6 tablespoons lemon juice
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter cubed
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Cream Cheese Frosting
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup heavy cream cold
- 12 oz cream cheese cold
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
Make Lemon Curd
- In a small saucepan, whisk together the sugar and lemon zest until the zest releases its oils. You'll know it's done when you can really smell the lemons and the sugar has gone a very pale yellow.
- Pour the egg yolks in (make sure you save the whites for the cake!) and whisk for about 2 minutes, until pale and thick.
- Place the saucepan over low speed and pour in the lemon juice and salt. Whisk constantly until thick and glossy - this can take up to 10 minutes. Make sure you don't stop whisking! Coat the back of a spoon with the lemon curd, it should coat it very thickly - that's how you know it's done.
- Turn the heat off and add the butter a piece at a time, whisking after each addition. Make sure the butter has melted before adding the next piece! Then add the vanilla extract and whisk to combine once more.
- Pour the lemon curd into a jar or bowl and let cool to room temperature. Note, if you want you can strain it at this point to remove the pieces of zest. Cover the top of the lemon curd with clingfilm to stop a skin from forming. Once cooled, place in the fridge for up to 1 week but at least 2 hours before using.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F/175°C. Grease and line two 8-inch cake pans
- In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, mix all of the dry ingredients on slow speed until blended. Add in your butter and mix on low until combined. It should look like damp sand.
- Add your egg whites one at a time, and then your whole egg. Beat well after each addition, making sure you scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl so all of the cake batter is getting mixed.
- In a small jug or bowl, whisk together the vanilla extract, yogurt, lemon juice and milk until combined.
- Slowly pour in one-third of the milk mixture into the mixing bowl. With the speed on low, mix together. Pour in the rest of the milk in two more additions, mixing slowly after each addition. Careful as it is a liquidy batter and may spill!
- Beat for 2 minutes. Your batter will be liquidy which is normal!
- Pour the batter into your two pans. Bake for 25-30 minutes. A toothpick inserted into the cake will come out clean. Remove from the oven and let cool in the pans for 15 minutes. Remove the cakes from the pans and let cool on a wire cooling rack until completely cool.
- In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, or in a large bowl with a handheld mixer, beat the heavy cream, sugar, salt and vanilla extract on low speed for 2 minutes. The sugar should have completely dissolved.
- Increase the speed to medium-high for 2 minutes and beat until it becomes very thick and looks like greek yogurt.
- Change the speed to low and add the cold cream cheese, a spoonful at a time. Once it has all been added, increase the speed to medium-high and beat for another 2 minutes.
- Place one cake layer down. Use a small offset spatula to spread a thin layer of cream cheese frosting. Place some of the frosting in a piping bag and pipe around the border of the cake. Spoon out the lemon curd (I used about ½-¾ of the lemon curd!) in the middle and spread it up until the frosting border.
- Place the second layer on top and press down gently. Evenly cover the sides and top of the cake with the rest of the frosting. Place in the fridge for 30 minutes to set.