Lemon lovers, this homemade Lemon Velvet Cake recipe is for you!
We have several go-to lemon cake recipes on our site, and this latest addition with it's soft, velvety texture and wonderful lemon flavor is sure to become a new favorite!
This Lemon Velvet Cake is fluffy, ultra moist, and has an impressive height with three cake layers.
We've filled the lemon cake with lemon curd and whipped cream, and frosted with homemade lemon buttercream.
This would make a perfect birthday cake, shower cake, wedding cake, and everything in between. We hope that you enjoy it!
What Gives the Cake its Velvety Texture?
What makes this recipe unique from our other lemon cakes is the cream cheese in the batter. Cream cheese adds richness to the cake without making it heavy or dense. It also gives the cake its uniquely velvety soft texture.
How to Make Lemon Velvet Cake
You can find the full, printable cake recipe further down in this post, or by clicking the "skip to recipe" button at the top of the page. Here is a quick rundown of our steps!
- First, preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Grease and flour three 8 inch pans, adding a circle of parchment or wax paper to the bottom of each pan.
- Combining the Dry Ingredients In a medium bowl, whisk the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt for 30 seconds and set aside.
- Combining the Wet Ingredients In another bowl, combine the milk, oil, lemon juice, lemon extract, and lemon zest. Set aside.
- Mixing Butter and Cream Cheese In the bowl of your mixer, add the butter and cream cheese and mix at medium speed until smooth.
- Add Sugar Gradually add the white sugar and mix at medium speed for 2-3 minutes.
- Eggs Add the room temperature eggs one at a time, mixing until the yellow of the yolk disappears.
- Alternating Dry and Wet Ingredients: Mixing at low speed, alternately add the flour mixture and the milk mixture, beginning and ending with the flour mixture (We did 3 additions of the dry mixture, 2 additions of wet). Increase the speed slightly and mix cake batter just until combined.
- Fill Pans and Bake: Pour batter into three 8-inch cake pans and bake at 325 degrees F for 28-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean or with just a few moist crumbs attached.
- Let the cake layers cool for 5-10 minutes in the pans on a wire rack before turning out.
Filling for our Lemon Velvet Cake
There are many great options for fillings when it comes to this velvety lemon cake.
Today, we decided to go with two of our favorites: homemade lemon curd and whipped cream!
For the Lemon Curd
If you've never made lemon curd, you must try this recipe! SO delicious!
This is such an easy recipe which combines sugar, cornstarch for thickening, and water over medium heat, then egg yolks and butter for richness, and lemon, lemon juice and lemon zest for wonderful lemon flavor.
After chilling, the lemon curd takes on a thicker consistency- it is silky smooth and tastes amazing!
For the Whipped Cream
In addition to the lemon curd, we spread on a bit of sweetened whipped cream between the layers as well!
Whipped cream is totally worth the few minutes it takes to whip up!
- Add a bit of heavy cream or whipping cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract to a chilled glass or metal bowl, whip it with chilled beaters and it comes together in all of it's luscious glory in no time at all!
- We like the touch of sweetness that the powdered sugar adds, as well as the hint of vanilla. Yum!
- The combination of lemon curd and whipped cream goes perfectly with our light lemon cake layers for a dessert that is guaranteed to please.
Lemon Buttercream Frosting
This easy, flavorful lemon buttercream frosting is a snap to make, as it is based on our classic vanilla buttercream recipe. It consists of butter, powdered sugar, a bit of milk, lemon extract, and lemon zest.
The lemon zest is optional- aside from adding the tiny flecks of zest in the lemon frosting, the oils from the lemon peel will give a boost of lemon flavor.
Assembling the Lemon Cake
Now for the fun part! Let's put this fluffy lemon velvet cake together. First, place a cake layer on your cake base or pedestal.
Next, pipe a dam of buttercream around the edge of the layer using a disposable piping bag with the tip snipped away. Piping a dam helps to keep the soft filling from escaping as you stack your cake layers.
Fill within the dam with a layer of lemon curd, followed by a layer of whipped cream.
Top with the second cake layer and repeat the steps of piping a dam and then adding the lemon curd and whipped cream.
Top with the third cake layer and at this point, I like to pipe additional buttercream to fill any remaining gaps between the cake layers. Frost the cake with a thin layer of buttercream (the crumb coat).
As an optional step, I like to take 15-20 minutes to chill the cake in the freezer to firm everything up before adding the second/final coat of frosting.
Decorating the Lemon Cake
You can decorate the cake however you like! This lemon buttercream recipe makes plenty of frosting. I added the frosting around the sides of the cake, and then used a metal comb to create decorative lines in the frosting.
I piped large rosettes using a 2D piping tip around the top edge of the cake, and then filled in with a layer of lemon curd.
*You likely will have some lemon curd leftover- that's never a bad thing if you love lemon curd like we do!
Finally, I added a small bead border around the base of the cake using a small round piping tip 3.
Other Favorite Lemon Cake Recipes!
We really LOVE all things lemon- if you do too, don't miss these other lemony favorites from our recipes section!
For our full collection of lemon cake and frosting favorites, don't miss our round up The Best Lemon Cakes, Frostings, and Fillings! Here are just a few go-to recipes with wonderful citrus flavor:
Lemon Mascarpone Cake (Very similar to our Lemon Velvet, but with mascarpone!)
Do you Have to Use Lemon Extract?
Because our cake recipe calls for lemon juice and lemon zest, and we are often asked if lemon extract is really necessary.
My answer is yes! Without the extract, the cake will still have a faint lemony flavor, but unfortunately, a lot of the lemon flavor bakes out--especially when it comes to lemon juice.
The oils contained in the lemon zest do add brightness and flavor to the cake but not in the same way that extract does.
As with anything else, it comes down to personal preference. If you'd like to try the recipe without lemon extract sometime, you can still add more flavor to the cake with a lemony simply syrup or glaze.
Does the Kind of Confectioners Sugar in Buttercream Matter?
Surprisingly, the kind of confectioners sugar used in buttercream does make a difference! Buttercream recipes should not have a gritty or grainy texture. If they do, it's likely the result of the confectioners sugar.
We’ve had great results with Domino’s confectioners sugar over the years. Some brands of confectioners sugar don’t work as well with buttercream frosting recipes.
If a package doesn’t say pure cane sugar, it contains beet sugar which is more likely to give you a grainy outcome.
However, we’ve noticed that sometimes even brands that say “Pure Cane Sugar” will result in a grainy consistency. The anti-caking agent used in the sugar could also be the culprit. It’s hard to know without a little experimenting to find the brand that gives a smooth, creamy result every time.
More Velvet Cakes to Share
If you love this lemon cake recipe, don't miss our other "velvet cakes"! These are all velvety soft cakes that contain cream cheese in the cake batter for a uniquely tender, moist, and rich cake.
Enjoy the Cake!
Thanks so much for stopping by! If you give this Lemon Velvet Cake a try, we would love for you to leave a comment and photo below. It has been one of our most popular cake recipes this year!
Lemon Velvet Cake
This moist Lemon Velvet Cake is named for it's soft, velvety texture. This lemon layer cake is filled with lemon curd and whipped cream, and frosted with lemon buttercream frosting.
- 1 (8oz)(226g) package cream cheese, softened
- 1 ½ sticks (¾c)(168g) unsalted butter, softened
- 2 cups (400g) sugar
- 4 large eggs, room temperature (to save time you can warm them in a bowl of very warm water for 5 min)
- 3 cups (342g) cake flour- see Notes for substitution
- 2 teaspoons (8g) baking powder
- ½ teaspoon (3g) baking soda
- ½ teaspoon (3g) salt
- ¾ cup (175g) milk
- ¼ cup lemon juice (approximate amount in one small lemon)
- ¼ cup (54g) vegetable oil (we used canola oil)
- 1 Tablespoon (10g) Lemon Extract
- Zest of two lemons
For the Lemon Curd Filling
- ¾ cup (150g) sugar
- ¼ cup (30g) cornstarch
- 1 cup (236g) water
- 2 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
- 2 Tablespoons (28g) butter
- 1 Tablespoon grated lemon zest
- 4 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
For the Whipped Cream
- 1 cup (240g) heavy cream
- ¼ (29g) cup powdered sugar
- 1 (4g) teaspoon vanilla
For the Lemon Buttercream
- 3 sticks (339g) unsalted butter slightly softened
- 2 teaspoons (8g) lemon extract (adjust amount to your liking)
- Zest of 1 lemon (optional)
- 7 ½ cups (863g) powdered sugar
- ¼ cup (60g) milk or more to reach the consistency you like
- *Yellow Coloring Gel is Optional (we used a touch of Americolor Lemon Yellow)
For the Lemon Velvet Cake
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Grease and flour three 8 inch pans. We like to line the bottom of our pans with circles of parchment paper.
- In a medium bowl, whisk the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt for 30 seconds and set aside.
- In another bowl, combine the milk, oil, lemon juice, lemon extract, and lemon zest. Set aside.**It will take a on a thick, clumpy look- don't worry- the lemon is basically turning the milk into buttermilk.
- In the bowl of your mixer, add the butter and cream cheese and mix at medium speed until smooth.
- Gradually add the sugar and mix at medium speed for 2-3 minutes.
- Add the room temperature eggs one at a time, mixing until the yellow of the yolk disappears.
- With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the flour mixture and the milk mixture, beginning and ending with the flour mixture (We did 3 additions of the dry mixture, 2 additions of wet). Slightly increase the mixer speed just until combined.
- Divide the batter between the three prepared pans.
- Bake at 325 degrees F for 28-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean or with just a few crumbs attached. Let cool for 5-10 minutes in the pans on a wire rack before turning out.
- This recipe makes approximately 8 cups of batter. Works for cupcakes also (although there will be little to no dome).
For the Lemon Curd
- Combine sugar, cornstarch and water in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir constantly, until mixture thickens and comes to a boil (3-4 minutes). Boil, stirring, for 1 minute more. Remove the pan from the heat.
- Spoon about ½ cup of the hot mixture into a small bowl with egg yolks and stir quickly until combined. Continue stirring, while pouring the egg mixture back into the saucepan. Return pan to medium heat and cook, stirring, until the curd is thickened and lemon colored (1-2 min).
- Remove from heat and stir in the butter, lemon juice, and lemon zest.-- Let the lemon curd cool, then press plastic wrap onto the surface, this will prevent a skin from forming on the top. Refrigerate.
- This will fill a 2-3 layer 8 or 9 inch cake with some leftover. The recipe can be halved.I have refrigerated the lemon curd for a week and it was fine....I'm not sure how long it will keep beyond that. Makes 1 ¼ cups
For the Whipped Cream
- Chill the mixing bowl and beaters/ whisk attachment in the freezer for 10 minutes.
- Pour the whipping cream, powdered sugar and vanilla into the chilled mixing bowl, begin beating on low speed gradually increasing to medium high speed.
- The cream begins to thicken (approx. 1 ½ minutes) and soft peaks form....peaks that slightly bend over. Watch closely as this happens quickly. Do not over beat.
For the Lemon Buttercream
- In the bowl of your mixer beat the butter until smooth, blend in the lemon extract and zest.Add ½ of the powdered sugar and ½ of the milk and mix at medium speed until combined.
- Add remaining powdered sugar and gradually add the milk. You can also add a touch of lemon yellow coloring gel at this point if you would like more color.
- Mix at medium speed 3 to 5 minutes scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl occasionally. At the end of mixing, slow down the mixer to very low speed for a minute or two, this will help to eliminate air pockets in the buttercream.
- Yield: 6 cups - enough to fill and frost a 3 layer 8 inch cakeCan be frozen in an air tight container for at least 3 months. Thaw on countertop and remixIf your buttercream is too thin, add more powdered sugar.
- If the consistency is too thick, add a bit more milk, 1 teaspoon at a time.
Assembling the Cake
- Place the first cake layer on the cake plate or pedestal.
- Pipe a dam of buttercream around the edge of the cake layer, using a piping bag with the tip snipped away (or ziplock bag).
- Fill with a layer of lemon curd, followed by a layer of whipped cream. Top with the next cake layer and repeat steps with dam and filling.
- Top with the third cake layer and fill any remaining gaps between the cake layers with buttercream.
- Crumb coat the cake with a thin layer of buttercream. Chill in the freezer for 15 minutes to firm things up (optional).
- Frost the sides of the cake with the final coat of buttercream (I added ridges with a cake comb). Finally, I piped rosettes around the top edge of the cake using a 2D piping tip and filled the top with a thin layer of lemon curd.Chill the cake until within a couple of hours of serving.
Substitution for Cake Flour: (Using all purpose flour (plain in UK) to make Cake Flour) For each cup of flour in a recipe, remove 2 Tablespoons of flour and replace with 2 Tablespoons cornstarch (cornflour in the UK). This recipe has 3 cups of flour so you will measure out 3 cups of all purpose flour, remove 6 Tablespoons and replace with 6 Tablespoons cornstarch, whisk to blend
Was perfect for my daughter’s 12 birthday.
Hi Amy, Your cake is beautiful! I know your daughter will love it.
Is there a sugar-free version of this recipe? If not, do you think I could just replace the sugar with equal amounts of Splenda?
can this be made in two pans if I don't want that height?
Hi Trudy, You can bake this cake in two 9x2 inch round pans. The baking time will be a bit longer so keep an eye on it.
I made this for our Pastor's wife's birthday two weeks ago. it was a resounding success! I've been asked two make two more for this coming weekend and two for Easter weekend.
This cake recipe has officially made it into the family recipe binder.
Hi Angie! I'm so glad that you all enjoyed it! Your cake is beautiful!