This lemon cheesecake cake is a combination of two favorites- our homemade lemon buttermilk cake, and cheesecake!
Cheesecake cakes have been around for years, but I’ve never tried one until now. This recipe consists of a layer of lemon cheesecake sandwiched between two moist lemon cake layers.
If you love lemon, or cheesecake, or both- this is the perfect dessert for you!
How to Make Lemon Cheesecake Cake
*You can find the full, printable cake recipe further down in this post.
This heavenly cake consists of a creamy lemon cheesecake layer sandwiched between two moist lemon cake layers, and frosted with lemon cream cheese frosting.
For this recipe we’re using our delicious Lemon Buttermilk Cake recipe for the cake layers. It is moist, tangy, and pairs perfectly with the lemon cream cheese frosting layer.
For the Lemon Cheesecake layer
Making the lemon cheesecake is super easy but I like to make it first as it requires additional baking and chilling time.
Water Bath: Some bakers wrap the bottom of the springform pan in foil and bake it in a water bath. However, this alternate method works very well!: Place a 9×13 or roasting pan filled with about an inch or so of water in the oven on a lower rack and preheat to 300 degrees F. Doing this step helps to promote even baking and prevents cracking.
Line the bottom of a 9 inch spring form pan with a circle of parchment paper.
Mixing Ingredients In a mixing bowl of a stand mixer (or handheld), mix softened cream cheese until smooth. Mixing at low speed, add the sugar, salt, flour.
Add lemon extract and sour cream. Mix at low speed until smooth and incorporated. Add eggs one at a time. Mix until well combined. I love how easy the cheesecake layer is to prepare!
Time to Bake! Next, pour the cheesecake batter into the parchment lined 9-inch springform pan.
Place pan in the oven on the rack just above the pan of water.
Bake cheesecake layer for 45 minutes. The cheesecake will be set at this point and only jiggle slightly.
Next, turn off the oven and leave cheesecake inside for 30 more minutes with the oven door slightly open. Gradually lowering the temperature of the cake this way allows the cake to cool without cracking.
Cooling and Chilling: Next, allow the cheesecake to cool on the countertop. Place foil over the pan and chill in the freezer for 2-3 hours or if you’re not in a hurry, you can chill it in the refrigerator until firm (at least 5-6 hours).
For the Lemon Cake Layers…
For the lemon cake layers, we’re using our Lemon Buttermilk Cake recipe. You can use whatever lemon layer cake recipe you like- whether you’re using a lemon cake mix recipe, or even our other lemon cake mix from scratch. We do love the lemon buttermilk cake recipe though!
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, grease and flour two 9-inch cake pans. (I like to line them with parchment circles to be on the safe side!)
Mixing the Dry Ingredients: In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and lemon zest for 30 seconds. Set aside
Combine the Wet Ingredients: In another bowl, add the buttermilk, oil, lemon extract and lemon juice. Set aside
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, add the butter and mix at medium speed until smooth. Gradually add the sugar and continue to mix on medium speed for 3 to 5 minutes until lightened in color and fluffy.
Add the room temperature eggs one at a time mixing until the yellow of the yolk disappears.
Combining Wet and Dry: Alternately add the flour mixture and buttermilk mixture, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients (3 additions of dry ingredients and 2 of liquid).
Do not mix above medium speed as you don’t want to overmix the cake batter.
Scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula, divide the lemon cake batter between two 9 inch cake pans.
Time to Bake! Bake at 350 degrees for 20-24 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with just few crumbs attached. Since my 9 inch pans are dark colored I baked at 325 degrees. Allow to cool in the pans on a wire rack for for 10-15 minutes before flipping out.
Assembling the Cake
Once your cake layers are nice and cool and your cheesecake has chilled until firm, it’s time to assemble the Lemon Cheesecake Cake!
Stacking the Layers: Place the first lemon cake layer on the cake plate or pedestal. Spread with a thin layer of lemon cream cheese frosting.
If the sides of the cheesecake appear to be sticking to the pan at all, run a thin knife (I like to heat it with hot water) around the inside of the cake pan to release . Then, release the sides of the springform pan.
Place the cheesecake upside down onto the first cake layer. remove the bottom of the springform pan. If it sticks at all, use a thin, hot knife to slide between the pan and the cake to release. Remove the parchment paper if you haven’t already!
Spread the lemon cheesecake layer with a thin layer of frosting. Then, add the second lemon cake layer. That’s it!
Cheesecake layer too big? Sometimes the layers do not match up perfectly. If your cheesecake layer is slightly wider than your lemon cake layers, just trim away the excess with a hot knife!
Decorating the Cake Frost the cake as usual. If at any time the lemon cream cheese frosting becomes too soft, or the layers are sliding, just pop it in the freezer for 15 minutes to firm things up. (And you can refrigerate the bowl of frosting also as needed.)
I frosted my lemon cheesecake cake using a bench scraper to smooth around the sides as I rotated it on the turntable. I like to crumb coat the cake first, then freeze for 15 minutes. Then, I added the final coat of frosting.
I smoothed the frosting around the sides with a bench scraper and then added ridges using a small offset spatula as I rotated the cake on a turntable.
I added a spiral of frosting on top of the cake by using an offset spatula- starting in the center of the cake and moving slightly outward with each rotation of the turntable.
I topped with a lemon wedge and a border of piped shells, rosettes, and stars from a 2D (large star) piping tip.
Here’s a slice! Isn’t it pretty? We hope that you enjoy this recipe!
We have more Lemon Cakes to Share
We just LOVE lemon cakes! We’ve made so many over the years. Here are just a few of our favorite cakes with wonderful lemon flavor!
Update: We now have a delicious pumpkin version of this cake as well! You can find it here: Pumpkin Cheesecake Cake
For the Cheesecake Layer
- 2 8oz packages Cream Cheese (453 total gram weight) Use full fat cream cheese. Do not use reduced fat or cream cheese in the tub containers. Soften slightly.
- 1 cup sugar (200g)
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 3 eggs, room temperature
- 3 Tablespoons (23g) All Purpose Flour
- 3/4 cup (182g) Sour Cream
- 1 teaspoon Lemon Extract
For the Lemon Cake Layers
- 1 1/2 sticks (170g) unsalted butter, softened ( holds it shape but dents when pressed)
- 2 cups (400g) sugar
- 3 eggs
- 3 cups (342g) cake flour (spooned into measuring cup and leveled off) If you do not have cake flour see substitution in Notes below.
- 2 teaspoons (8g) baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon (3g) baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon (3g) salt
- 1 1/4 cups (296g) buttermilk — if you do not have buttermilk, see substitution below
- 1/4 cup (57g) lemon juice
- 1/4 cup (54g) vegetable oil
- 1 Tablespoon (10g) Lemon Extract
- Zest of two lemons
For the Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting
- 2 sticks (226g) unsalted butter, slightly softened but still cool to the touch
- 2 8oz packages Cream Cheese (453 total gram weight) Use full fat cream cheese. Do not use reduced fat or cream cheese in the tub containers. Soften very slightly
- 1 teaspoon (4g) lemon extract
- Optional- Zest from 1 lemon, approximately 1 1/2 teaspoons (3g)
- Yellow Coloring Gel- optional. I used just a very small amount.
- 6 to 6 1/2 cups (690g - 747g) powdered sugar, adding more if necessary
- Small offset spatula (to create ridges in frosting)
- Disposable piping bag fitted with 2D large piping tip
For the Cheesecake Layer
- Place a 9x13 (or similar size) pan filled with one inch of water on a rack in the bottom 2/3 of the oven. (Just under the rack where your cheesecake layer will bake)
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees F
- Line the bottom of a 9 inch spring form pan with a circle of parchment paper.
- In a mixing bowl, mix softened cream cheese until smooth.
- Mixing at low speed, add sugar, salt, flour.
- Add lemon extract and sour cream. Mix at low speed until smooth and incorporated. Add eggs one at a time. Mix until well combined.
- Pour the cheesecake batter into springform pan lined with parchment and place on a rack just above the pan of water.
- Bake for 45 minutes. The cheesecake should be set at this point- it may jiggle slightly.
- Turn off the oven and leave cheesecake inside for 30 more minutes with the oven door slightly open. (This helps the cake to cool without cracking.)
- Then, allow the cheesecake to cool on the countertop. Then, place foil on the pan and chill in the freezer for 2-3 hours. If you are not in a hurry, you can refrigerate the cake for 5-6 hours or overnight.
For the Lemon Cake Layers
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, grease and flour two 9×2 inch round pans.
- In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and zest for 30 seconds. Set aside
- In another bowl, add the buttermilk, oil and lemon extract and lemon juice. Set aside..
- In the bowl of your mixer, add the butter and mix at medium speed until smooth. Gradually add the sugar and continue to mix on medium speed for 3 to 5 minutes until lightened in color and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time mixing until the yellow of the yolk disappears.
- Alternately add the flour mixture and buttermilk mixture, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients (3 additions of dry ingredients and 2 of liquid).
- Do not mix above medium speed or over mix the cake batter
- Divide batter between the two prepared 9 inch cake pans.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 20-24 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with just few crumbs attached. Let cool 10 minutes and turn out.
For the Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting
- Cut butter into 1/2 inch slices and add to the bowl of your mixer, beat until smooth.
- Cut the cream cheese into pieces and add to the butter, beating until blended.
- Add the lemon extract. (Lemon zest is optional).
- Gradually add powdered sugar and beat until well blended.
- This frosting will pipe best if used while still chilled. You can make it in advance, refrigerate and when ready to use let it soften slightly and remix. Do not microwave to soften.
Assemble the Cake
- Place the first lemon cake layer on the cake plate or pedestal. Spread with a thin layer of frosting.
- Run a thin knife (I like to heat it with hot water) between the cake and side of the cake pan to help prevent sticking.
- Release the sides of the springform pan.
- Place the cheesecake upside down onto the first cake layer. remove the bottom of the cake pan. If it sticks at all, use a thin, hot knife to slide between the pan and the cake to release.
- Remove the parchment if you haven't already ;0) -
- Spread the cheesecake layer with a thin layer of frosting. Top with the top lemon cake layer.
- *If your cheesecake layer is slightly wider than your cake layers, just trim away the excess with a hot knife!
- Frost the cake as usual. If at any time the frosting becomes too soft, or the layers are sliding, just pop it in the freezer for 15 minutes to firm things up. (And you can refrigerate the bowl of frosting also as needed.)
Substitute for Buttermilk: No Buttermilk for your lemon cake layers? Here is a substitution: To a measuring cup, add 1 Tablespoon plus one teaspoon vinegar or lemon juice. Add milk to the 1 1/4 c. mark, stir. Wait 5 minutes and it is ready to use.
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
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