This is a simple, from-scratch, one bowl lemon buttermilk cake perfumed with fragrant lemon zest and juice. It’s rustic yet elegant, and the batter comes together in only minutes! You can serve the cake as a Bundt cake or double layer cake.
This cake makes a great backdrop for your favorite icing. I love this whipped cream cheese frosting so much! It looks so pretty spread between two cake layers, however, a thick drippy lemon glaze drizzled over a pretty Bundt cake is also divine. For a bit of a floral twist, consider adding some lavender sugar to both the cake batter and the frosting.
- All-purpose flour
- Baking powder
Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Grease two 6-inch (15-cm) cake tins and line them with parchment paper.
In a large bowl whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together to combine.
Add the buttermilk, melted butter, vanilla, lemon zest, and lemon juice and mix well.
Add the eggs and continue to whisk until the batter is smooth and the ingredients are well incorporated.
Divide the one bowl lemon cake batter evenly between the two prepared 6-inch cake tins. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the cakes read 200ºF to 205ºF (93ºC to 96ºC).
Cool the two cakes on a rack for 10 minutes in their tins. Carefully remove the cakes from the pans and cool completely before icing.
Notes & Tips
Over the last year I’ve discovered the level of consistency of using a scale for baking is quite remarkable! Something to consider if you haven’t given it a try yet.
I think you can reduce the amount of sugar in most baking recipes by 25% and up to half. I started testing this one bowl lemon cake recipe with 1 cup (200 g) of sugar, yet after multiple bakes, I was just as happy with ½ cup (100 g).
Buttermilk is one of my favourite ingredients! My general rule of thumb is to try substituting buttermilk anywhere I’d use yogurt, milk, or sour cream.
You could beat the butter and sugar in a mixer until they’re light and fluffy, if you want, however, I haven’t found a noticeable difference in doing that. Melted butter is so much faster and easier!
I often double, and sometimes triple, the amount of vanilla in recipes, however, I held back here because I want the lemon to shine. If you love vanilla as much as I do, feel free to double the amount.
I use clear vanilla extract for most recipes with all-purpose flour to keep the colour of the crumb light and pristine.
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.
After many sunken loaves of banana bread I began using a digital thermometer to determine the doneness of my baked goods. When the cakes have finished baking, take a temperature reading from the middle. An internal temperature of 200ºF to 205ºF (93ºC to 96ºC) is what you want and it hasn’t let me down yet! I am no longer frustrated by fallen or gummy centres.
I sometimes serve one cake as a single layer cake with glaze and freeze the second layer for later. To freeze, wrap the cake in a double-layer of plastic wrap, gently but tightly, and store it in the freezer for up to three months. To thaw, pull it from the freezer and store it in the fridge one day before serving. Remove it from the fridge a couple of hours before you need it to take the chill off.
I tested my one bowl lemon cake recipe with stone ground spelt flour and it was great, however I prefer the softer texture, and lighter colour, of all-purpose flour. You could substitute 25% whole wheat flour for all-purpose if you want. Any more than that and you’ll probably have to increase the amount of buttermilk.
For a crumb that’s even more tender and moist, substitute half of the butter with a light flavoured oil like vegetable, canola, or melted coconut.
If you don’t own 6-inch (15-cm) cake tins, you can bake this recipe in two 8-inch (20-cm) tins. Please note, each one bowl lemon cake layer will be less tall, and will probably bake faster, so keep an eye on the oven and have a thermometer ready.
More Buttermilk Recipes
Buttermilk Quiche With Ham, Cheddar, and Chives The classic French egg custard tart kicked up a notch with the tang and zip of creamy buttermilk!
One Bowl Lemon Cake With Buttermilk
- 10 cup Bundt pan I use Nordic Ware non-stick Bundt pans
- Commercial baking spray can be found in the baking aisle of most grocery stores
- Measuring cups and spoons or digital kitchen scale
- Microplane grater or other fine grater for zesting a lemon
- Citrus squeezer to extract lemon juice
- 1 Large mixing bowl
- Electric hand mixer or handheld whisk
- 1 Fine mesh sieve optional
- Rubber spatula or wooden spoon
- 1 ½ cups buttermilk
- 1 cup sugar
- ⅓ cup melted butter
- ⅓ cup vegetable oil
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 1 lemon zested and juiced, about ¼ cup (63ml) of juice
- 2 cups cake & pastry flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC) and lightly spray the inside of a 10-cup Bundt pan with baking spray. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the buttermilk, sugar, melted butter, vegetable oil, eggs, vanilla, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Use an electric hand mixer to mix everything together until smooth.
- Use a fine mesh sieve to sift the cake & pastry flour, baking powder, and baking soda into the bowl. Add the salt. Switch to a rubber spatula or wooden spoon. Stir the cake batter together until the flour is just combined—a few streaks of flour are ok and the batter will look lumpy.
- Use a measuring cup to scoop the batter evenly into the prepared Bundt pan, avoiding the center column. Use your spatula or spoon to lightly smooth the top of the batter before placing the cake tin in the preheated oven. Bake the cake for 37 to 40 minutes, or until the top springs back when lightly pressed with a finger, and the sides are pulling away from the tin.
- Remove the cake from the oven and place the tin on a wire rack. Cool the cake for 10 minutes before turning it out of the tin onto the rack. Cool the cake completely before icing or glazing.