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Tangy Lemon Layer Cake

It is mother’s day weekend. And if you’re someone who follows quite a bunch of food bloggers on social media, I’m sure you’re seeing an influx of recipes for mother’s day. These recipes must be ranging from brunch and dinner recipes to snacks and, of course, desserts—a lot of desserts.

I’m here to add another recipe to this pile, and I want to convince you to make this cake for your mama or yourself; you don’t need a reason or occasion to make cake!

I am a massive fan of anything citrus, especially lemon. And, my mother doesn’t really like decadent flavors like chocolate. So, I used this mother’s day opportunity to make a small tangy lemon layer cake. It’s small, really tiny—smaller than the average cakes you see in recipes.

The intention behind making this cake a cute, small one is that if you’re making it for your mom, it could just be for her or for the two of you to share. Plus, it’s the embodiment of happiness and sunshine, and it’s super refreshing too!

It’s a really adorable cake, and it tastes even better. You’ve got two layers of zesty cake, a layer of the most lemony lemon curd, and a coating of delicious cream cheese frosting. I could eat this cake every day, it’s so good.

What goes into the tangy lemon layer cake?

Like I mentioned, this cake has three components, the cake itself, the filling — which is lemon curd, and a cream cheese frosting.

The cake is a straightforward, eggless cake that’s been flavored with lemon juice and lemon zest. It calls for simple ingredients: all-purpose flour, caster sugar, neutral-tasting oil, milk, yogurt, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and lemons.

The next component is the crowning glory of this cake, in my opinion. It’s the lemon curd. Lemon curd is basically custard but made with lemon juice instead of milk. It’s goopy, jiggly, and incredibly lemony. I could just eat it with a spoon, screw making a cake.

Now, lemon curd calls for eggs; eggs are what make the lemon curd thick and custard-like upon cooking. But, if you don’t want to use eggs, there is a separate eggless lemon curd recipe in the notes section at the end of this post.

The final component is the cream cheese frosting. It’s a really simple frosting; it calls for cream cheese, butter, and icing sugar. I also add some lemon zest because I can’t get enough of the lemon flavor.

I use packaged cream cheese from the brand D’Lecta. You can also use homemade cream cheese, or if you can find any other brands of cream cheese, that works too.

How to assemble this cake?

If you can’t tell from the pictures, I took a really laid-back and carefree approach to how I assembled this cake (I’m being sarcastic, it was a mess).

But, I also have a decent amount of experience making layer cakes, and they usually don’t look like this. But it’s okay; cakes also have bad days where they don’t look presentable, that doesn’t take away from how insanely yummy they are. After all, we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, and the cake is delicious, so it doesn’t matter!

So, I’m gonna tell you how to assemble this cake patiently and adequately, so you don’t end up with a messy, melty cake.

First things first, your cake is probably going to have a dome after it’s baked. The best way to avoid wastage and flatten it is to flip it upside down onto a cooling rack, and the dome will flatten out as the cake. cools

Then, you’re going to wrap the cake in cling film once it’s down to room temperature. Then you’re going to refrigerate it from anywhere between 4 hours to overnight.

You can tell from the cross-section photos of the cake that the layers are not even. Don't be overconfident like me, and hold up a ruler against the length of the cake and determine the midpoint. Grab about 5-6 toothpicks, and stick them along the middle. Now, place the cake on a turntable, use a serrated knife and make a shallow cut along the midpoint of the cake while rotating it.

Remove the toothpicks, and start cutting into the cake while rotating it.

Once that’s done, place one half of the cake on the turntable, and pipe a 1-inch border of frosting. Flatten the inner side gently, and add the lemon curd. Do another border, and place the second half of the cake on top. The flat side should face upwards.

Cake being filled with lemon curd and cream cheese frosting
How to fill the centre of the cake

After this, it’s recommended to chill the cake for 20-25 minutes. And then, continue frosting as per your liking.

Lastly, if you understood none of this, I am linking my short cake decorating video to help you. You can also watch this video to get an in-depth layer cake building lesson.

What equipment do I need to make this cake?

For the baking part, you’ll need a 5-inch round tin to bake the cake in—a couple of mixing bowls, a wire whisk, and a rubber spatula to make the batter. You will also need a zester or a grater to zest your lemons.

You will need a narrow wire whisk, a saucepan, and a mesh sieve to make the lemon curd.

For making the cream cheese frosting, you will need two large mixing bowls, a rubber spatula, and an electric mixer with the whisk attachments. This is non-negotiable since it’s next to impossible to make the frosting by hand without it being grainy.

Now, here are the tools you need to assemble the cake.

I’ve listed both necessary and optional tools below.

Absolutely necessary, strongly recommended:

  • Cake turntable

  • Serrated knife or unscented dental floss

  • Offset spatula


  • Piping bags

  • Piping tips

  • Cake board

  • Cake scraper

The recipe for tangy lemon layer cake

Yields: One 5-inch cake

Time: 2 hours plus chilling



  • 140 grams (1 ¼ cup) all-purpose flour

  • 4 grams (1 teaspoon) baking powder

  • 2 grams (½ teaspoon) salt

  • 112 grams (½ cup) caster sugar

  • 84 grams (¼ cup) oil

  • 112 grams (½ cup) yogurt

  • 2 grams (½ teaspoon) baking soda

  • 90 grams (¼ cup) milk

  • 12 grams (¾ tablespoon) lemon juice

  • 6 grams (1 tablespoon) lemon zest

Lemon curd:

  • 30 grams (2 tablespoons) butter, cold and cubed

  • 60 grams (¼ cup) lemon juice

  • 6 grams (1 tablespoon) lemon zest

  • 60 grams (¼ cup) caster sugar

  • 90 grams egg (2 yolks, 1 whole)

Cream cheese frosting:

  • 70 grams (¼ cup) room temperature butter

  • 70 grams (¼ cup) room temperature cream cheese

  • 280 grams (2 ¼ cup) sifted icing sugar

  • 3 grams (½ tablespoon) lemon zest



  • Preheat the oven to 180°C.

  • Grease a 5-inch round cake pan and dust it with flour.

  • Sift the flour, salt, and baking powder in a bowl and set it aside.

  • In a separate bowl, whisk the sugar and oil, followed by the yogurt and baking soda.

  • Whisk in the milk, lemon juice, and lemon zest next.

  • Mix everything until well combined and emulsified.

  • Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and fold gently with a rubber spatula.

  • Whisk to break any lumps.

  • Add the batter to the prepared pan, and tap on the counter twice.

  • Bake the cake at 180°C for 45-48 minutes. Insert a toothpick, and if it comes out clean, the cake is ready.

  • Flip the baked cake onto a cooling rack and allow it to come to room temperature.

  • Wrap the entire cake in cling film without leaving any exposed area.

  • Refrigerate the cake for a minimum of 4 hours or overnight.

Lemon curd:

  • Add all the ingredients except the butter to a saucepan, and place it on low heat.

  • Continually whisk for 4-5 minutes until you achieve a thick, custard-like consistency.

  • Take the thick lemon curd off the heat, and whisk in the cold butter until combined.

  • Sieve the lemon curd to remove lumps and store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator until needed.

Cream cheese frosting:

  • Add the butter to a large mixing bowl, and beat it with the electric mixer until it’s creamy.

  • Add the cream cheese to it, and beat until combined.

  • Add the sifted icing sugar in 3 parts and mix it into the butter and cream cheese with the electric mixer. Scrape down the sides of the bowl too.

  • Add the lemon zest after all of the icing sugar has been added.

  • Beat for a few more seconds until the frosting is fluffy and not grainy anymore. If the frosting looks like it is about to curdle, stick it in the fridge or freezer for a few minutes and then continue working it.

  • Refrigerate the frosting for 15-20 minutes until it’s a little stiff and not sloppy.


  • Slice the chilled cake in half, pipe a border of frosting, and fill the center with lemon curd.

  • Add the second layer of cake on top, and frost the cake per your liking.

  • You can leave it as a naked cake or decorate it any way you like.

  • Keep refrigerating the cake and frosting every 10 minutes because cream cheese frosting tends to become looser if left out for too long.

  • Keep the cake in the fridge until you're ready to serve.


Recipe for the eggless lemon curd:


  • 7 grams (1 tablespoon) cornstarch

  • 14 grams (1 tablespoon) water

  • 57 grams (¼ cup) lemon juice

  • 75 grams (6 tablespoons) caster sugar

  • 56 grams (¼ cup) cold, cubed butter

  • 76 grams (¼ cup) condensed milk

  • 6 grams (1 tablespoon) lemon zest

  • 1 drop of yellow gel food dye (optional)


  • To a saucepan, add the lemon juice, sugar, and lemon zest. Turn on the heat to low and keep stirring until the sugar dissolves.

  • Meanwhile, make a slurry with the cornstarch and water. Once the sugar has dissolved, add the slurry to the lemon mixture.

  • Keep stirring until it starts becoming thick.

  • Add the butter to the mixture and keep mixing until it’s dissolved.

  • Take the mixture off the heat and add the condensed milk. You should have a thick, custard-like consistency at this stage.

  • At this stage, you can add a drop of yellow gel food dye. It is entirely optional, but since we’re not using eggs for this lemon curd, you won’t get the vibrant yellow color that it usually has.

  • Strain it through a mesh sieve and store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

If you liked this recipe or tried it, let me know in the comments below or post it to my Instagram and Facebook, I'd love to see your creations!

#cake #lemoncake #layercake #lemoncurd #summer #dessertsandpastries

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