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This delightful Lemon Sour Cream Cake is a versatile treat that can be enjoyed on various occasions. Its tangy lemon flavor, tender crumb, and elegant presentation make it suitable for both casual get-togethers and more formal events. For a Sunday brunch, a weeknight dessert, a summer party, or even a birthday party, this moist lemon cake is as pretty as it is easy to eat.
There are numerous reasons why we love this Sour Cream Lemon Cake. From its vibrant flavor to its versatility, this recipe has captured the hearts and taste buds of my family, and I know it will be yours, too.
- It has a tangy citrus burst – The combination of zesty lemons and tangy sour cream creates a refreshing and indulgent flavor profile.
- It’s moist and tender – The cake melts in your mouth. It’s got that perfect moistness you hope a lemon cake would have.
- You can serve it many ways – Make a frosting, dust the top with powdered sugar, or drizzle it with glaze – this cake is easy to serve.
- Easy but impressive – This cake is a from-scratch recipe that’s surprisingly easy to make! It uses simple ingredients but looks like a masterpiece when it’s done.
Table of Contents
How to Serve Lemon Cake
You can make this lemon cake for just about any occasion. It’s pretty, light, flavorful, and even just a bit fancy. Here are a few ways to serve it:
- Afternoon Snack – Cut the cake into small squares and serve as a snack cake with a cup of tea or coffee.
- Birthday Celebration – Add some sprinkles and birthday candles for a simple and delicious birthday cake.
- On a Dessert Table – This cake is easy to incorporate into a dessert table, especially a lemon-themed one. Serve it alongside other lemon treats and goodies, like lemon tarts and lemon cookies.
- Cake flour – this gives the cake a lighter, fluffier texture
- Baking powder
- Lemon zest – using fresh zest will enhance the bright color and citrusy flavor of the cake
- Unsalted butter – let it soften at room temperature for a few hours before baking
- Granulated sugar
- Large eggs
- Almond extract
- Sour cream – the secret ingredient that makes this cake incredibly moist and tender also adds a slight tanginess that complements the lemon flavor
- Lemon juice – freshly squeeze is prefered for this recipe
- Colorful sprinkles – these are optional; decorate your cake how you prefer
How to Make
STEP ONE: Preheat the oven and prep the pan. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray an 8×8-inch pan with nonstick baking spray.
STEP TWO: Blend the dry ingredients. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the cake flour, baking powder, salt, and lemon zest. Set aside.
STEP THREE: Cream butter and sugar. In a bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add in the eggs one at a time, followed by the almond extract, sour cream, and lemon juice. Mix until combined.
STEP FOUR: Add the dry ingredients. Carefully, add the flour mixture to the wet mixture. Mix until just combined. Pour batter into the prepared 8×8 pan.
STEP FIVE: Bake. Bake for 22 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove the cake from the oven and let cool for 20 to 30 minutes before removing it to a cooling rack.
How to Make the Frosting
Combine the ingredients. Add the powdered sugar, lemon juice, and heavy whipping cream to a medium-sized bowl. Whisk until smooth. *If you would like thicker icing keep adding more powdered sugar. If the icing is too thick, add more lemon juice or heavy whipping cream to thin it out.
Ice the cake. Spread the icing on top of the lemon cake and sprinkle with your favorite colorful sprinkles. Serve immediately.
Tips and Recipe Notes
- Fully preheat the oven before putting your cake inside to make sure it bakes evenly.
- Cream the butter and sugar together separately to create a light and fluffy texture for the cake. Cream them for 2-3 minutes to reach the best consistency.
- Add the eggs one at a time to make sure they’re well incorporated into the batter. Scrape down the sides of the bowl after you add each one.
- Slowly and gently add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture. Overmixing can result in a dense cake, so mix until just combined.
Substitutions and Additions
Cake Flour – All-purpose flour can be used as a substitute for cake flour if you don’t have it on hand. However, the texture of the cake may be slightly denser. To make your own cake flour, you can combine 1 cup of all-purpose flour with 2 tablespoons of cornstarch. Sift them together to ensure proper distribution.
Sour Cream – Greek yogurt can be used as a substitute for sour cream if you prefer a tangy flavor with a slightly thicker consistency. If you’re looking for a lighter option, you can use plain yogurt instead of sour cream. Keep in mind that the flavor and texture may vary slightly.
Lemon Juice – You can add a few drops of lemon extract along with the lemon juice for a more intense lemon flavor.
How to Store
In the Fridge: To store the lemon sour cream cake in the fridge, ensure that it has cooled completely. Place it in an airtight container or cover it tightly with plastic wrap to prevent it from drying out. The cake can be refrigerated for up to 5 days. Before serving, allow it to come to room temperature or briefly warm it in the oven to restore its soft texture.
In the Freezer: If you want to store the cake for a longer period, you can freeze it. Make sure the cake has cooled completely, and then wrap it tightly in plastic wrap followed by a layer of aluminum foil to prevent freezer burn. The cake can be frozen for up to 3 months without compromising its taste and texture. When you’re ready to enjoy, thaw the cake in the refrigerator overnight. Let it come to room temperature before serving for the best flavor and texture.
Can I make this cake ahead of time?
If you want to make this cake ahead of time, it is best to prepare and bake it as directed in the recipe. Then, once it has completely cooled, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap or place it in an airtight container. Store it at room temperature for up to 2 days, or refrigerate for up to 5 days. Frost the cake just before serving for the best results.
Can I make the cake gluten-free?
Yes, you can try using a gluten-free cake flour blend as a substitute. Follow the package instructions for the appropriate measurements, or use a gluten-free flour and use as directed.
Yes, you can experiment with other citrus fruits such as limes or oranges to create variations of this cake.
Yes, you can use an equal amount of plain yogurt as a substitute for sour cream in this recipe. Greek yogurt works well.
Absolutely! The batter can be easily converted into cupcakes. Adjust the baking time to approximately 18-20 minutes.
Yes! A bundt pan will give the cake an elegant and decorative shape. You may need to adjust the baking time slightly. Watch the cake carefully and test it after 20 minutes.
More Dessert Recipes
- Chocolate Peppermint Cupcakes
- Chocolate Avocado Banana Bread
- Spice Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
- Gluten-Free Cinnamon Rolls Recipe
- Pineapple Pretzel Salad
Lemon Sour Cream Cake
- 2 ½ cups cake flour scoop and level method
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- ½ cup unsalted butter softened
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- ½ cup sour cream
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- Colorful sprinkles
For the Lemon Icing
- 1 cup powdered sugar sifted
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon heavy whipping cream
- Preheat the oven and prep the pan. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray an 8×8-inch pan with nonstick baking spray.
- Blend the dry ingredients. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the cake flour, baking powder, salt, and lemon zest. Set aside.
- Cream butter and sugar. In a bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add in the eggs one at a time, followed by the almond extract, sour cream, and lemon juice. Mix until combined.
- Add the dry ingredients. Carefully, add the flour mixture to the wet mixture. Mix until just combined. Pour batter into the prepared 8×8 pan.
- Bake. Bake for 22 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove the cake from the oven and let cool for 20 to 30 minutes before removing it to a cooling rack.
Make the icing
- Combine the ingredients. Add the powdered sugar, lemon juice, and heavy whipping cream to a medium-sized bowl. Whisk until smooth. *If you would like thicker icing keep adding more powdered sugar. If the icing is too thick, add more lemon juice or heavy whipping cream to thin it out.
- Ice the cake. Spread the icing on top of the lemon cake and sprinkle with your favorite colorful sprinkles. Serve immediately.
- You can use vanilla extract instead of almond.
- 1 tablespoon of lemon zest is about 1 lemon.
- 2 tablespoons of lemon juice is half of a large-sized lemon.
- What is the difference between cake flour and all-purpose flour? I prefer to use cake flour in this recipe for a fluffier texture. All-purpose flour has a higher protein count, which will result in a dense cake. Cake flour has a low protein count and will give the cake a fluffy and tender texture.
- You can use all-purpose flour in this recipe instead of cake flour. You will use 2 ¼ cups of all-purpose flour instead of 2 ½ cups as the recipe states above.
- The scoop and level method is the process you will use to accurately measure your cake flour. All you need to do is take a spoon and scoop the flour into a dry measuring cup, and then using the back of a knife scrape the top to level it.