This beautiful lemon buttermilk cake with strawberry jam-cream cheese icing is dense, moist, and can be made without a mixer!
This post was first published May 5, 2014 and was last updated July 2, 2020.
Testing This Recipe For Lemon Buttermilk Cake With Strawberry Jam-Cream Cheese Icing
When I developed this lemon buttermilk cake recipe I started with a healthy-ish version including spelt flour, coconut sugar, and coconut oil. In the end I decided classic all-purpose flour, white sugar, and butter, look and taste the best. Also, I’ve tested this cake recipe multiple times. For consistent results, I highly recommend baking this cake using a scale if you have one!
The simple cream cheese icing with strawberry jam is nice, however, feel free to substitute in any other jam you like. Also, this cake is great topped with a glaze made with powdered sugar, lemon zest, and lemon juice.
A Note On Baking By Weight
I recently switched to baking by weight, that is weighing ingredients to the gram using a scale.
I learned to bake by scooping and levelling ingredients into 1/4, 1/2, 3/4, and 1 cup measures. The problem with this method is that amounts will vary wildly from one baker to the next. The level of consistency you can achieve when using a scale is quite remarkable!
How To Reduce Sugar In Baking
I recently visited a dietitian and I have been doing my best to eat mindfully since. Weekly meal plans are based on a balance of whole grains and protein, with fruit and vegetables, however sometimes I just want a slice of cake!
I’m a firm believer that you can reduce the amount of sugar in pretty much any baking recipe by up to half. Once upon a time, I probably would have started with 1 cup of sugar in this lemon buttermilk cake recipe, however, upon testing this recipe I found 1/2 cup to be fine. Also, because the strawberry jam-cream cheese icing is sweet you won’t notice the reduced sweetness in the cake.
Lemon Buttermilk Cake Ingredients
I tested this lemon cake recipe with stone ground spelt flour and it worked great, however I prefer the softer texture, and lighter colour, of all-purpose flour.
For health and weight-management reasons, I’m on a mission to reduce my sugar intake. I would normally use a full cup of sugar in a cake recipe like this, however, I reduced the sugar by half and it still tastes great.
I often use baking powder in cake recipes and hardly ever think to use baking soda. The rise and flavour of baking powder is familiar to me meaning I tend to reach for it by default.
Buttermilk is my new favourite ingredient! I’ve used it in my lime yogurt dressing in place of the yogurt, and as a substitute for the milk in my prosciutto fontina quiche. My rule of thumb is to try buttermilk anywhere you’d use yogurt, milk, or sour cream.
You could try beating the butter and sugar until light and fluffy if you want, however, because this lemon buttermilk cake recipe is moist and dense, I haven’t found a noticeable difference. Melted butter is so fast and easy!
The recipe as written is baked in two 6-inch cake tins, which equals one egg per tin. Eggs help create a smooth batter, and add lift, texture, and a hint of colour to the cake crumb.
I love to double and sometimes triple the amount of vanilla in my recipes, however I held back here because I wanted the lemon to shine. I use clear vanilla extract for all recipes made with white all-purpose flour because it keeps the colour light and pristine.
Lemon Zest And Juice
Because lemons come in different sizes I recommend weighing out 50g of lemon juice, however, use the zest of one full lemon regardless of size.
Strawberry Jam-Cream Cheese Icing Ingredients
Butter And Cream Cheese
You could make a simple buttercream for this cake, but I the added tang of cream cheese is beautiful with lemon! A half and half ratio of butter to cream cheese works well.
Also called powdered sugar or confectioners sugar.
Fresh strawberries may be too liquidy for cream cheese icing, though I haven’t tried it. Strawberry jam adds a nice hit of concentrated flavour. If your jam doesn’t make your icing pink enough, you could add one drop of red food colouring.
Aimée Bourque The Picnic Queen
Meeting and working with like-minded food creatives fuels my soul! Aimée Bourque from Simple Bites moved to my home province of Nova Scotia last winter, and we’ve since become food friends.
Aimee’s blog focuses on whole, seasonal foods with family and friends. She also shares fantastic picnic and camping-inspired food posts. We recently collaborated on a romantic lakeside picnic for two, including my newly tested recipe for lemon buttermilk cake with strawberry jam-cream cheese icing.
More Luscious Lemon Recipes:
Microwave Lemon Curd A simple and luxurious treat for when you need a hit of lemony goodness in your life!
Classic Lemon Bars The shortbread bottom layer is rich, crisp, and buttery, and the lemon topping is creamy and tart!
Condensed Milk Lemon Tarts A refreshing, crunchy, tasty little treat!
Lemon Buttermilk Cake
- 1 1/2 cup (225g) all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup (100g) sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup (170g) buttermilk
- 1/4 cup (56g) butter, melted
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- zest of one lemon
- 1/4 cup (50g) lemon juice
Strawberry Jam-Cream Cheese Icing
- 1/4 cup (56g) butter, soft
- 1/4 cup (56g) cream cheese, soft
- 1 cup (120g) powdered sugar, sifted
- pinch of salt
- 1 to 2 tablespoons strawberry jam, or other jam of your choice
- Make The Lemon Buttermilk Cake - Preheat the oven to 350ºF / 177ºC. Grease two 6-inch cake tins and line with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together to combine. Set aside.
- In another bowl whisk the buttermilk, melted butter, eggs, vanilla, lemon zest, and lemon juice until well incorporated.
- Fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until just combined. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared 6-inch cake tins and bake 30-35 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the cakes is 200º to 205ºF. Cool the cakes on a rack for 10 minutes and remove from tins. Cool completely on rack.
- Make The Strawberry Jam-Cream Cheese Icing - Combine the butter, cream cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla, salt, and strawberry jam together in a large bowl or in the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix by hand or with a whisk attachment until smooth.
- Assemble The Lemon Buttermilk Cake - If you need, trim the tops of the two cakes to make them level. Place one cake on a platter or plate. Dollop half of the strawberry jam-cream cheese icing on top of one of the cake and spread the icing to the edges of the cake.
- Place the second cake, upside down, on top of the first cake. Spread the remaining frosting on top and around the sides of cake. Keep the layer of icing on top of the cake thicker, and spread thinly and smoothly along the sides of the cake leaving the cake layers somewhat exposed. Decorate the top with fresh flowers or anything else you like. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
To ensure consistent results I HIGHLY recommend making this cake recipe by weight using a scale.
This cake recipe also works well as two small one layer cakes. A simple glaze made with powdered sugar, lemon juice, and lemon zest is also fabulous on top!
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 111Total Fat: 1gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 38mgSodium: 241mgCarbohydrates: 21gFiber: 1gSugar: 4gProtein: 3g
Did you make this recipe? If yes, please let me know how it worked out for you! Leave a comment below, or share a picture on Instagram with the hashtag #kellyneil.
All images created in partnership with Aimée Bourque of Simple Bites. Lemon buttermilk cake recipe, cake, and photography by Kelly Neil; Food styling by Aimée Bourque.