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Old Fashioned Three Layer Lemon Cake From Scratch

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An old-fashioned lemon cake recipe that has stood the test of time. You will want to print and save this cake recipe with your personal collection to make again and again.

a slice being lifted from a lemon layer cake

Chances are excellent you already have all of the ingredients to make this lemon cake except for the lemons. I prefer to use cake flour when baking cakes from scratch. Yes, it does cost a tad more than regular flour but trusts me when I say, it is worth it.

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lemon layer cake ingredients

Ingredients

  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 Cups Cake flour, I use this brand (Amazon link)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. Baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. Salt
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 tsp. Shredded Lemon peel, about 2 Lemons
  • 1/4 Cup fresh Lemon juice
  • 1 Cup Buttermilk

Directions for making Lemon Cake

Butter and Eggs Prep

Take your butter out of the refrigerator the night before to allow it to soften. Remove the eggs from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before you begin to allow them to come to room temperature.

Grease and flour the cake pans

Begin by preparing your cake pans. I always grease and flour cake pans. It isn’t worth the risk of having my cake stick to the pans because of using non-stick spray. For best results, always grease and flour cake pans.

2 pans and 3 layers

This is a three-layer cake baked in 8″ cake pans. If you only have two cake pans, no problem. Just sit the last of the batter in the refrigerator while the first two layers bake. After the layers are done, cooled, and turned onto a cooling rack, prepare one of the pans again with grease and flour and bake the last layer.

Making the lemon cake batter

Preheat your oven to 350° and make sure the oven rack is in the center position. It is best not to bake cakes on lower racks.

In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, salt, and baking powder. Set aside.

whipped butter in the mixing bowl

In a large bowl, beat the butter on medium speed for about 30 seconds to one minute until it is whipped.

adding sugar, lemon juice and lemon peel to mixing bowl

Add the lemon peel, lemon juice, and sugar and beat until well combined.

The lemon peel is optional. Some folks may not care for it fearing you will have a gritty bite in the cake but it pretty much pulverizes in the process.

TIP Stop and scrape the sides of the bowl from time to time with your rubber spatula to incorporate all of the yummy goodness and leave nothing behind.

adding an egg to cake batter while mixing

Beating on low speed, alternately add the eggs, flour mixture, and the buttermilk. So you will add one egg, a small amount of flour, and a small amount of buttermilk, mixing between each addition, and then repeat the process until it is all added.

TIP Crack each egg into a small bowl and then pour it into the mixing bowl. While that egg is mixing, crack the next one into the same small bowl. This way you don’t risk getting eggshells in your cake batter.

This step is why having a stand mixer is so wonderful. It frees up your hands to keep adding the ingredients while the mixer is still running. Mine is a Kitchen Aid like this one, more than 25 years old and I still love using it. They are expensive but look how long they last!

Now divide the batter evenly between three 8″ round prepared pans. Place the pans into the preheated oven making sure the sides don’t touch.

Set your timer for 28 minutes to check for doneness. Insert a wooden toothpick into the center of the cake. If it comes out clean, the cake is done. If it doesn’t come out clean, continue to bake for a few more minutes and check again until the cake is done.

round cakes cooling on wire racks

Cool on a wire rack for about 10 minutes and then turn out of the pan to continue cooling. For best results never frost a cake while it is still warm as the frosting may melt.

Round three layer Lemon Cake decorated with lemons

The frosting for this Lemon Cake is made from scratch Lemon Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting, the recipe here. I made the frosting thick using less liquid to thin the powdered sugar to make a nice heavy look when the cake is cut.

Because this frosting is quite sweet, I made it a thin coating between layers and thicker on the top.

a piece of three layer lemon cake on a plate in front of the cake stand and a bottle of milk

Decorate your frosted cake with lemon slices. It’s a fun way to create a nice presentation especially if you are serving this for a special occasion.

Yield: 14

Three Layer Lemon Cake From Scratch

lemon layer cake decorated with cut lemons

An old fashioned, made from scratch three layer Lemon Cake recipe. You'll want to print this recipe to use again and again. Take it to family gatherings to hear the rave reviews.

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 28 minutes
Additional Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 58 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 Cups Cake flour, I use this brand (Amazon link)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. Baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. Salt
  • 2 Cups granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp. Shredded Lemon peel, about 2 Lemons
  • 1/4 Cup Lemon juice
  • 1 Cup Buttermilk

Instructions

Grease and flour your cake pans.

Preheat the oven to 350°

In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, salt and baking power. Set aside.

In a large mixing bow, beat the butter on medium speed for about 30 seconds to one minute until it is whipped.

Add the lemon peel, lemon juice and sugar and beat until well combined.

Beating on low speed, alternately add the eggs, flour mixture and the buttermilk. So you will add one egg, a small amount of flour and a small amount of buttermilk, mixing between each addition, and then repeat the process until it is all added. Continue mixing until well combined.

Now divide the cake batter evenly between three 8″ round, greased and floured cake pans. Place the pans into the preheated oven making sure the side don’t touch.

Set your timer for 28 minutes to check for doneness. Insert a wooden toothpick into the center of the cake. If it comes out clean, the cake is done. If it doesn’t come out clean, continue to bake a few more minutes and check again until the cake is done.

Cool on wire racks for about 10 minutes and then turn out of the pan to continue cooling.

Allow to cool completely before frosting the cake.

This cake is frosted with Homemade Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting.

Nutrition Information

Yield

14

Serving Size

1

Amount Per Serving Calories 365Total Fat 15gSaturated Fat 9gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 5gCholesterol 89mgSodium 196mgCarbohydrates 54gFiber 1gSugar 30gProtein 5g

Nutrition information is estimated and may not be exact based on uncontrolled variables in home kitchens used by each individual cook.

Did you make this recipe?

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