{RECIPE} Quick and Zesty Lemon Cake Perfect for a Last Minute Thanksgiving Dessert

by Jillian Leslie on

We needed a quick dessert to take to my husband's family tomorrow for Thanksgiving, and since lemon cake is his favorite dessert, and my mother-in-law's too, and we have a gorgeous lemon tree in our backyard with way too many lemons, we decided to make a lemon cake.

It turned out wonderfully! It's zesty and sweet and easy, what a perfect combination! I can't wait to share it tomorrow with his family.



  • 2 sticks (1 cup) butter
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 yolks
  • Zest of two medium lemons, or one large lemon - about 2-3 loose tablespoons
  • 4 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup of powdered sugar for decoration

Preheat the oven to 350. Cut a piece of parchment paper to cover the bottom of a 9" round or 8" square cake pan. Grease the parchment and sides with a little butter.

Add the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt to a mixing bowl. Stir and set aside.

Add the butter (room temperature), sugar, eggs, vanilla, lemon zest, and lemon juice to a large mixing bowl. If you like sweeter cakes, you can add an extra 1/2 cup of sugar. Beat on high with an electric mixer for 1-2 minutes. Stir in the buttermilk.

Mix in the dry ingredients in 2-3 batches. Stir until just it just comes together; you don't want to over mix.

Pour the batter into the pan, and cook for 30 minutes. Test with a toothpick, and take it out of the oven when it comes out clean.

Let it cool for 10 minutes, then flip it over onto a wire rack. If you are going to frost it, let it cool completely.

If you want something with that extra lemony punch, this cake goes great with a lemon glaze. All you need is 1 1/2 cups of granulated sugar, a tablespoon of lemon juice, and a tablespoon of hot water. Whisk together and drizzle over the cake. You can add additional water or sugar to adjust the consistency.

I wanted to try something more decorative, so I pulled out my Cricut Mini and cut out a flower shape to use with powdered sugar.

I placed it on the cake.

Sprinkled powered sugar on top.

Removed the paper flower and added just a touch more powered sugar. I loved how it turned out.

And here's the cake ready to eat!

And the first piece!

I wish you and your family a safe and Happy Thanksgiving!! I can't wait to see what you do. Please add your celebrations to our site so I can show them off.

And here's our lemon tree. Told ya we had a lot of lemons. Any recommendations for recipes we should try?


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