This tender Lemon Bundt Cake made from scratch is full of lemon flavor from real lemons and decorated with lemon cream cheese frosting. It’s the perfect cake for any occasion!
The last time I made a bundt cake, I stuck a Lalaloopsy doll in it and decorated it for my daughter’s sixth birthday. Let’s just say this was not my finest work 🙂 Also, Lalaloopsy dolls are very top-heavy (those are enormous heads on spindly bodies) and so it looks more like this doll is relaxing in a hot tub rather than sporting a lovely party dress. That was four years ago. I figured it was time I give a bundt cake another try.
One of my adorable young friends was having a birthday. Her super cute husband had planned a big Harry Potter-themed scavenger hunt which led at the end to him doing a rap from Hamilton, and then her finding tickets to the show. (Not sure what that had to do with Harry Potter other than combining her love for both the boy wizard and the musical founding father).
When her husband gleefully revealed his plans to us, I said, “Are you going to make her a cake?” Turns out that cake was not planned. Just butterbeer 🙂 I said I would be happy to make her a cake, and he said that lemon was her favorite flavor. I just so happened to have a boatload of lemons in my refrigerator. And thus, the Lemon Bundt Cake was born!
How to Make and Decorate Lemon Bundt Cake
First, check to see if you have all the ingredients. I would say that you don’t need actual lemons for this cake, but you kind of do. You can use bottled lemon juice, but you do need lemon zest, and you can only get that from actual lemons. (Unless you can buy it somewhere, in which case, sign me up, because this is the only the second time in my life I’ve had a drawer full of lemons).
(By the way, if you ever do need to juice a lot of lemons, I HIGHLY recommend the Black and Decker Citrus Juicer. This thing gets way more juice out of a lemon than I could get just by squeezing it!)
This lemon cake uses a variation on my recipe for Lemon Yellow Squash Bread. I wanted the cake to be dense and hold its shape well. That’s why I used this recipe rather than a standard cake recipe.
Because there is no squash in this cake, but I still wanted it to be really moist, I added a lemon syrup after the cake was baked. Then after everything had cooled, I decorated it with a lemon cream cheese frosting, sliced lemons, and flowers from in front of my house (which may or may not have been poisonous–I don’t know–but nobody died and we did not actually eat the flowers).
Ingredients for Lemon Bundt Cake
- juice and zest from 2 small lemons (about 1/4 cup lemon juice and 2-3 tsp. lemon zest)
- vegetable oil
- buttermilk (I just use regular milk with a splash of lemon juice or vinegar)
- baking powder
Lemon Bundt Cake Glaze
You’ll spoon or brush the glaze onto the cake while it is still warm so it can absorb all the lovely lemon flavor. All you need for this is sugar and lemon juice. (I just used juice from a bottle, but if you want to use fresh-squeezed, you’ll need 3-4 more lemons)
Lemon Bundt Cake Icing
It’s super easy to decorate the Lemon Bundt Cake with this icing. I’ll show you how later on in the post. But for now, just make sure you have cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar, lemon zest, and milk.
How to Make a Lemon Bundt Cake Step-by-Step
First you mix up the batter. I’m not going to belabor that process, because I’m sure you already know how to mix up cake batter. (Plus, I have detailed instructions in the actual recipe below). Thoroughly grease and flour a bundt pan. I just heavily sprayed mine with baking spray. (But I think greasing and flouring may have worked better, because some of my cake still stuck to the pan.) The batter will come quite close to the top of the pan.
Bake it in a 350-degree F. oven for 40-45 minutes. Then remove and let cool in the pan for about 30 minutes.
Then take a small knife or spatula and loosen the edges of the cake. Don’t forget to go around the small circle in the middle of the pan as well. Then turn the cake over onto a wire rack set over a plate (or something to catch drips, because there will be drips).
Now you’re going to whip up some lemon simple syrup. All you do is add lemon juice and sugar to a pan on the stove and cook it over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the sugar is dissolved. Then you are going to spoon it over your warm cake.
If you have a pastry brush or grilling brush, I think it actually does a better job. I brushed the syrup all over the top and sides of the cake. I used all of the syrup (even though it seemed like a lot).
After the syrup had soaked in and the cake had cooled completely, I transferred it to a serving platter so I could decorate it. I made the lemon cream cheese frosting and put it in a pastry bag. The easiest way to put frosting in a pastry bag is to set the bag inside a large cup and fold the tops of the bag back over the sides of the cup. Then just spoon in the frosting.
I cut a big hole in the bottom of my pastry bag, but you can do a smaller hole if you’d like smaller stripes on your cake. Start on the outside of the cake and squeeze a stripe of frosting up over the top and down into the center portion of the cake.
You can either leave your cake like this:
Or you can decorate it some more! Since this was for a birthday, I wanted to make it look really pretty. I just sliced some lemons and placed the cut slices into the frosting, and then picked some flowers and gently placed them in the frosting as well (making sure to check for bugs first!) The result was gorgeous!
I stored this for several hours in the refrigerator before serving it. The flowers held up pretty well in the fridge, but if you’re going to decorate with flowers, I do suggest serving the cake on the same day, as soon as you can.
My cute friend and her husband were delighted by this cake! I told them it was the first time I had made a Lemon Bundt Cake and that it was kind of an experiment. They said I knocked it out of the park 🙂
I know that was a lot of talking and explanation, but making this cake really isn’t hard. It just takes a bit of forethought and planning. But the results are so worth it!
Super moist and bursting with lemon flavor, this Lemon Bundt Cake decorated with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting is the perfect cake for any occasion!
- 4 eggs
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 2 2/3 cups granulated sugar
- 1 cup buttermilk (see tips in the post for making your own buttermilk)
- 1/4 cup lemon juice (freshly squeezed from 2 small lemons, or from a bottle)
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest (grated with a microplane zester from 2-3 small lemons)
- 4 cups all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 cup lemon juice
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 6 tablespoons butter, softened
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- 2 teaspoons milk
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest (from one lemon)
- pinch of salt
Thoroughly grease and flour a large bundt pan. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
In a large stand mixer or mixing bowl, beat the eggs for about 30 seconds. Add the oil and sugar and mix well.
Add the buttermilk, lemon juice, and lemon zest and mix well.
Add the flour, salt, and baking powder all at once. Beat on low speed just until all the flour is incorporated and most of the lumps are gone.
Pour the batter into your prepared bundt pan and bake for 40-45 minutes until the top is golden brown and a knife or toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center.
Allow to cool for 30 minutes in the pan. Then loosen the sides and turn the cake out onto a wire rack set over a plate to cool completely.
Add the 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup lemon juice to a small saucepan on the stove. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat.
Spoon or brush all over the top and sides of the warm cake. Use all the syrup. Allow the cake to cool completely at room temperature.
In a stand mixer, or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, whip the softened cream cheese and butter on high speed until smooth and creamy.
Add the powdered sugar, lemon zest, milk, and pinch of salt and blend on low speed until the powdered sugar disappears. Then increase the speed and beat for about two minutes. Add more powdered sugar or milk if necessary to reach your desired consistency.
Pipe over the top of the cake and decorate as desired. Store the cake in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
Be sure to scroll up and read the post for tips and tricks and step-by-step instructions with pictures!