Fresh Lemon Cake

Grab your very favorite citrus (I used lemon here) and make this bright, fresh citrus-y cake! Tested with lemon, blood orange, cara cara and lime (one of my favorites!). It comes together quickly and can be casual with just the glaze or load it up with jazz hands and candied lemon peel. I hope this becomes your new favorite, go-to lemon cake!! xo
Lemon Cake | Recipe via DisplacedHousewife Rebecca Firth

Consider this Fresh Lemon Cake a dazzling celebration of the humble lemon, that most-frequently used citrus that adorns our kitchen counters. I don’t know this for fact but I do on instinct. I put lemon in everything from warm water, to savory dishes that need brightening up to baked goods that need some sunshine. Yes, the humble lemon is a kitchen workhorse.

In regards to this cake, lemon is the star of the show with lots of flavor layered into the cake base, the soak, as well as the glaze that perfectly coats the top. But what makes this cake ever-so dazzling, is her chameleon-like abilities as she’s here to serve your every citrus whim. Think of her as a choose your own adventure cake having been tested with blood oranges, limes (SO GOOD) and cara cara oranges. Let your citrus freak flag fly here my friends…let her fly.

This cake uses zero butter, a modest amount of delicious olive oil and heaps of lemon flavor to make a cake that is both hella good and ridiculously easy to make. She also uses my olive oil + almond extract exacta of flavors that I’m obsessed with right now. So freaking good. You can see some a recent example of this with these Cherry Jam Muffins.

If you’re feeling especially frisky and want to dazzle your friends, I highly recommend going the extra mile and candy-ing your lemon peel. It’s stupid easy and turns this casual beauty into a showstopper.

If you’d like some more bright citrus flavor, check out these Margarita Cupcakes With White Chocolate Lime Buttercream, these Blood Orange Scones or this Lemon Raspberry Cake…which leads me to my other note which is (drumroll) that I’m going back and revamping old recipes, adding in more tips and re-photography them!! Alas none of the just-recommended recipes have received said treatment, but I will share the first revamped + rephotographed recipe next week — stay tuned!

Before We Get Started

  • PANS. You’re going to need a 1.9 quart (9 x 5-inch) loaf pan. I tested the cake in this Ikea one (which I think is pretty, but it browns up the sides of the cake a bit more than I’d like). I also tested it in a pan similar to this on Amazon + an old battered loaf tin from my mom. To make sure the pan you’re using is the correct size, pour 5 cups of water in there…it should roughly fill it 3/4s of the way full. That is the perfect-sized pan. If the water fills it up higher or significantly lower, you’ll need to find a better sized pan for the cake. One last pan note: the battered lighter-colored pan and the darker, second-linked pan (on Amazon) produced the prettiest cakes. The Ikea pan let the sides get a little too done (scroll down to the last photo and you’ll see the far-right cake was baked in the Ikea pan).
  • MIXER. As usual, I give instructions with an electric stand mixer. HOWEVER, feel free, as always, to use a bowl, whisk and your well-sculpted arms to get the job done.
  • CITRUS. I tested this cake a ton over the past several weeks. I made this lemon version several times over, a lime version (that I absolutely love), several blood orange as well as cara cara cakes too. They all work beautifully! You can use one specific type of citrus in the recipe or use a combination of whatever you have lying around.
  • ZEST. Use 4 lemons for the lemon zest to get that big bright pop of lemon flavor we’re looking for. Use those same lemons to get the fresh lemon juice you’ll need for the cake soak as well as the lemon glaze. You’ll need one additional lemon if you decide to candy the lemon peel for the top of the cake. A note on zesting: make sure to use a light hand and only zest the top, colored rind of the citrus and avoid the second layer of white pith, which is bitter.
  • JUICING. A quick way to get all of the juice out of your citrus is to use a fork. Cut the fruit in half and press the tines of the fork into the flesh in a twisting motion. Amazing, right? PS Always zest your fruit before juicing.
  • OLIVE OIL. When baking with olive oil reach for an olive oil that you could drink by the spoonful — you want it to taste delicious! I’m a huge California Olive Ranch and Lucini fan.
  • REST. I want you to rest your batter for a minimum of 30 minutes before baking it. This helps the flour absorb some of the moisture and allows the cake to bake up nice and puffy.
  • SOAK. I wanted to add a soak to this cake to reinforce all of those delicious lemon flavors — and it delivers. Bonus it also keeps this cake hella moist!
  • CANDIED. I’m always looking for jazz hands and for this cake, it comes to us in the form of candied lemon peel. I give you directions below (it’s super easy to do). You will need to make it the night before serving to give it time to dry out a bit before adding to the cake. As an alternative, you could put fresh lemon zest over the top of the cake just prior to serving, if you can’t be bothered with candying things this week.

Let’s make some delicious Fresh Lemon Cake, shall we?

Fresh Lemon Tea Cake | Recipe via DisplacedHousewife Rebecca Firth
Fresh Lemon Tea Cake | Recipe via DisplacedHousewife Rebecca Firth
Fresh Lemon Tea Cake | Recipe via DisplacedHousewife Rebecca Firth
Fresh Lemon Tea Cake | Recipe via DisplacedHousewife Rebecca Firth
Lemon Cake | Recipe via DisplacedHousewife Rebecca Firth

Fresh Lemon Cake

Grab your very favorite citrus (I used lemon here) and make this bright, fresh citrus-y cake! Tested with lemon, blood orange, cara cara and lime (one of my favorites!). It comes together quickly and can be casual with just the glaze or load it up with jazz hands and candied lemon peel. I hope this becomes your new favorite, go-to lemon cake!! xo
5 from 6 reviews
Print Save Rate
Prep Time: 50 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Cake
Keyword: Citrus, Lemon, Loaf, Cake, Tea Cake
Servings: 1 9×5 Loaf Cake

Ingredients

For the Cake

For the Lemon Soak

For the Lemon Glaze

For the Candied Lemon Peel

Instructions

For the Cake

  • In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment add the lemon zest and sugar. Run the machine for 1 minute on low to completely combine the two. If you're feeling it reach in there with your hands and massage the lemon zest into the sugar to really infuse the lemon flavor in there. With the mixer on low, slowly stream in the olive oil until it's completely blended with the sugar. Add in the eggs, one at a time, making sure the first is well blended before adding in the next. Scrape the sides and the bottom of the bowl to make sure everything is well blended. Add the almond extract and run the machine on medium for 1 minute more.
  • In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and sea salt. Add to the sugar mixture in two batches, alternating with the milk. Again, scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to make sure everything is well incorporated. Let your batter sit for a minimum of 30 minutes.

For the Lemon Soak

  • To prepare the Lemon Soak, combine the lemon juice and sugar in a small saucepan and stir over medium-low heat until the sugar has completely dissolved. Set aside to cool a bit.
  • When ready to bake, preheat your oven to 350 F (177 C). Grease a 9×5-inch loaf pan (23×13 cm) and line with parchment paper. Let some excess hang over the sides so that it's easy to get the cake out of the pan when it's done baking. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and tap several times on the counter to release any trapped air bubbles. Bake in the center of the oven for about 40-50 minutes or until a cake tester or toothpick pressed in the center of the cake comes out clean. Let sit for 10 minutes and then brush the Lemon Soak over the top of the cake. If you don't have a pastry brush, then just slowly pour it all over the top giving it time to absorb into the cake. After another 10 minutes use the parchment overhand to lift the cake out of the tin and finish cooling completely on the rack. Set a baking sheet underneath the cooling rack.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, cream and lemon juice until smooth. Pour all over the top of the cake; tap the baking sheet on the counter several times to settle the glaze and have it drip down the sides.

For the Candied Lemon Peel

  • Use a sharp knife or vegetable peeler to cut the top layer of peel away from the lemon. If you get some pith that’s ok, because we’re going to sweeten the heck out of it. I like to try and cut long, wide pieces. Fill a small, heavy-bottommed saucepan with the lemon peel, sugar and water and bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. After 30 minutes, flip the pieces over and cook for 20 minutes more. Set them on a layer of parchment paper to dry out (ideally overnight) before using. When dried, arrange over the top of the cake. Store the cake in an airtight container at room temperature.

Notes

*I like to give a larger bake-time range with loaves because you have a larger mass of cake batter in a smaller container. If your oven runs hotter yours will be done on the lower end of the range; if cooler, your cake may take a bit longer. 
Thanks for baking with me! Please tag me on social @displacedhousewife #displacedhousewife so I can see your beautiful treats! xo

40 Comments

  • Tracy Chean June 14, 2021 at 10:23 AM

    May I use honey instead of sugar?

    Reply
  • jean March 6, 2021 at 7:01 AM

    any suggestions on what I can do for next time? my icing didn’t come out white like yours, it ran all down the sides. it’s very runny and clear- more like a clear glaze. I’m still excited to try it. =) thanks in advance

    Reply
  • Lorraine February 6, 2021 at 2:33 PM

    5 stars
    This cake is so exquisitely lemony and rises high perhaps thanks to the direction to ‘rest’ the batter before baking. The olive oil & lemon combo is like a dream come true! It’s Now my absolute favourite lemon cake recipe!

    Reply
    • Rebecca Firth February 6, 2021 at 3:04 PM

      Ahh Lorraine!! You made my day! So happy you love this cake as much as I do!! xox

      Reply
  • Chere February 4, 2021 at 12:42 PM

    Hi, this looks gorgeous! Do you know if I could replace oat or coconut milk for the cows milk here? :)

    Reply
    • Rebecca Firth February 5, 2021 at 10:49 AM

      Hi! I have not tried that, but I think you could. I would probably use the coconut milk because of the protein and fat. If you make it like this let me know how it goes, I would love to hear!!! xox

      Reply
      • Lorraine February 7, 2021 at 10:32 AM

        The second time I baked this cake I used oat milk and there was no difference at all in the end result:-)

        Reply
      • Lorraine February 7, 2021 at 10:43 AM

        5 stars
        The second time I baked this cake For my neighbour who is GF, and I used oat milk AND Bobs Red Mill GF cup-for-cup flour and let the batter rest a little longer and the end result was STILL spectacular!

        Reply
        • Rebecca Firth February 7, 2021 at 10:58 AM

          Oh I loveeee this!!! Thank you so much for leaving your adaptations here for others!!

          So happy you liked it Lorraine!! xox

          Reply
  • Geraldine February 2, 2021 at 9:44 AM

    Hi! Recipe looks lovely. Was wondering if I could sub the flour to grounded fine almonds instead to make it gluten free? Would resting the batter be needed in that case? ☺️ Also, may I know what’s the secret to having a puffed up centre when baking loafs? Thanks in advance!

    Reply
    • Rebecca Firth February 2, 2021 at 9:56 AM

      Hi Geraldine!
      I haven’t tested it with ground fine almonds, so I would be hesitant to recommend that straight away. If I was going to adapt this to gluten free (and wanted the almond flour in there), I would probably go for half almond flour and half gf flour (my favorite is Thomas Keller Cup4Cup). If you go the gf route you should definitely rest your cake batter…the longer the better. Fake flours ;) as I call them need more time to absorb extra moisture.

      Getting a puffed up top is a lot about how the recipe is written. Also, making sure your oven is the correct temperature will help as well. One last tip, resting the cake batter. If the flour has a bit of time to absorb that extra moisture, it will puff up into a pretty dome. Let me know if you go the gf route and how it goes! xox

      Reply
  • Blog Confeitaria Em Casa Lucrativa January 28, 2021 at 2:21 PM

    5 stars
    Lemon cake is so delicious. Thank you so much!

    Reply
    • Rebecca Firth February 2, 2021 at 9:57 AM

      Thank you so much!! I’m so happy you liked it!! xo

      Reply
    • Rebecca Firth February 2, 2021 at 6:40 PM

      It’s the best!! Glad you liked it!! xox

      Reply
  • Mark September 3, 2020 at 11:04 PM

    Is the lime version a 1:1 substitute for lemons ?

    Reply
    • Rebecca Firth September 3, 2020 at 11:17 PM

      Hi Mark! Yes, just sub in 1:1 any citrus. The lime is INSANE!!! Let me know how it goes!
      xo

      Reply
  • Amelia May 6, 2020 at 1:59 AM

    If I want to freeze half of this cake, any recommendations on doing so? Thanks!

    Reply
    • Rebecca Firth September 3, 2020 at 11:20 PM

      Hi Amelia!
      If I was going to freeze this, I would probably slice, put parchment paper between each slice and then wrap tightly and stash in an air-tight bag. That would work if you wanted to grab a slice whenever you feel like it. If you want to serve it all at a later day, then I would wrap tightly and then store in an air-tight container. Defrost overnight in the fridge and then unwrap!
      xoxo

      Reply
  • Anita Hartunian April 24, 2020 at 5:55 AM

    Have you ever tried to bake this with almond flour?

    Reply
    • Rebecca Firth April 25, 2020 at 3:06 PM

      Hi Anita — I have not tried it with almond flour. If I was going to start playing around with flour, I would start with using it for a partial amount of flour. If you do use it, please let us know how it goes! xoxo

      Reply
  • jamie April 8, 2020 at 10:33 AM

    hi, i would love to try this recipe! if i replace the olive oil with butter, is it still half cup?

    Reply
    • Rebecca Firth September 3, 2020 at 11:21 PM

      Hi Jaime! I haven’t made it this way, if I was going to test it out I would probably try 1/2-2/3 cup of butter. Have fun!
      xo

      Reply
  • Shelly L March 24, 2020 at 12:25 PM

    5 stars
    When I saw this recipe I knew I wanted it for my birthday! We used an egg replacer and almond milk since we have vegans in the house. It was amazing! Thank you!

    Reply
    • Rebecca Firth March 24, 2020 at 2:36 PM

      Hi Shelly!! Happy Birthday to you!!! I’m so happy that you loved it and thank you so much for the recipe notes you shared — I know these will help others when making adjustments. Hoping all of your birthday wishes come true!!! xoxo

      Reply
  • Kimberlee March 17, 2020 at 2:56 PM

    Finally going to bake this! What is your insight into poking it and then pouring the glaze in? I don’t want to ruin it, but maybe I will experiment. Heck, maybe I will soak it in whiskey!

    Reply
    • Rebecca Firth March 17, 2020 at 4:03 PM

      I’m so glad you’re going to make this — it is SOOOOOOO GOOD!!! I think you could totally poke + pour — if you do, let me know how it goes!!! Have fun! xoxo

      Reply
      • Kimberlee March 23, 2020 at 4:37 AM

        5 stars
        Recommend the poking! Came out great! And just so happened to have whipping cream, wow!! So happy I tried that. No going back!
        I want to try this wirh orange and put mini chocolate chips in it.

        Reply
        • Rebecca Firth March 23, 2020 at 2:00 PM

          If you try it with the orange + chocolate please let me know how it goes — that sounds delicious!!! I can’t recommend the lime enough as well. So happy you loved it!!! xoxo

          Reply
  • Yasmin February 23, 2020 at 11:39 PM

    Hi there! I was wondering on the weight measurements for the lemon zest in the cake…is it really supposed to be 36g/ ¼ cup? I’ve already zested 5 lemons and I’m only at 6g/maybe 2T….granted their on the mediumish side? Thanks!!

    Reply
    • Rebecca Firth February 24, 2020 at 12:17 AM

      Hi! I was hesitant to add the weight for the lemon zest and this question confirmed my gut! Go with zesting 4-5 medium-large lemons. For me, that fills 1/4 cup (they’re big lemons). I like lots of lemon so I would go for 4 tbsp…but 2 tbsp would be delicious too if you’re tired of zesting!! Changing this in the ingredients now to make everyone’s life easier. :)
      xox

      Reply
      • Yasmin February 24, 2020 at 12:37 AM

        Thank you! Went ahead and zested 6. Turned the sugar nice and yellow!

        Reply
  • Jeanne Detore February 23, 2020 at 11:31 PM

    Looks wonderful. Question – regular olive oil or extra virgin?

    Reply
    • Rebecca Firth February 24, 2020 at 12:26 AM

      Hi Jeanne! I use extra virgin olive oil…go with my rule of thumb which is use an olive oil that tastes delicious to you, straight out of the bottle. Have fun! xo

      Reply
  • Laura | Tutti Dolci February 23, 2020 at 9:35 PM

    5 stars
    Dazzling indeed!! I need this cake in my life! :)

    Reply
    • Rebecca Firth February 23, 2020 at 9:48 PM

      Thank you Laura!!! You’re the best!!! xox

      Reply
  • Nyamat February 23, 2020 at 5:16 AM

    Love the recipe. Going to try it soon. Can I use regular vegetable oil instead of olive oil?

    Reply
    • Rebecca Firth February 23, 2020 at 8:56 PM

      Hi! I hope you do!! You could use veggie oil…I would recommend sunflower seed oil as an alternative to the olive oil. Let me know how it goes. Have fun!! xo

      Reply
  • Bella February 22, 2020 at 8:19 PM

    It’s been forever since I’ve last had a lemon cake! I’m excited to try this, the candied lemon peel seems like it will be an excellent addition xx

    Reply
    • Rebecca Firth February 22, 2020 at 8:25 PM

      Thank you so much!!! I hope you love it!! xoxo

      Reply

Leave a Comment

Recipe Rating