Lemon Layer Cake

Bree, Baked Bree

This cake looks like a summer garden, but is incredibly easy to decorate – promise. The top looks intricate and fancy, but it is made by using the simplest piping technique. If you can squeeze, you can make this cake. Don’t be afraid to play with colors and different tips, the end result will always be tasty, no matter what you put on top! Individual lemon buttermilk cakes are brushed with a lemon syrup to ensure the layers stay moist, and a thick layer of lemon buttercream adds even more creamy lemon flavor.
1 hr Prep Time
30 min Cook Time
  • Prep Time: 1 hr
  • Cook Time: 30 min
  • Servings: 10-12 servings

Servings: 10-12 servings


  • For the Lemon Cake:

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature, plus additional for preparing pan
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 4 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • For the Lemon Syrup:

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • For the Lemon Buttercream:

  • 3 cups (6 sticks) butter, room temperature
  • 6 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • For the Decoration:

  • Pink gel gel food color
  • Lavender gel food color
  • Golden yellow gel food color
  • Green gel food color
  • Turquoise sugar pearls
  • Wilton Tip #20
  • Wilton Tip #21
  • Wilton Tip #32
  • Wilton Tip #69


For the Lemon Cake:

Step 1

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter three 8-inch or two 9-inch cake pans. Line bottoms of pans with parchment paper, and brush with soft butter.

Step 2

In medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

Step 3

In the bowl of electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream 2 sticks butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add oil, lemon zest, eggs, vanilla and lemon juice. Mix on medium speed until smooth, scraping as necessary.

Step 4

With mixer on low speed, add one third of flour mixture, followed by half of buttermilk, beating well after each addition. Repeat, ending with flour mixture. Increase speed and beat for another 30 seconds.

Step 5

Divide batter evenly among prepared pans. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Cool in pans for 5 minutes, then turn out onto cooling rack to cool completely.

For the Lemon Syrup:

Step 6

Add sugar and water to small saucepan. Bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 2 minutes. Remove from heat, add lemon zest and juice. Cool completely.

For the Lemon Buttercream:

Step 7

Add butter to bowl of stand mixer. Beat until butter is very pale and smooth. It is ready when it makes a slapping sound as it hits sides of the bowl.

Step 8

Add sugar one cup at a time. Mix until it is fully incorporated before you add next cup.

Step 9

When all of sugar has been added, scrape paddle and sides of bowl. Add vanilla, salt, lemon juice and heavy cream and beat on low speed for 15 seconds. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until whipped, light and perfectly smooth, about 5 minutes. Scrape bowl. The frosting will look like it is getting really soft, but it will stiffen and increase in volume.

Step 10

Remove approximately 2 cups of frosting and put into 4 small bowls.

To Assemble the Cake:

Step 11

If needed, even cake layers with serrated knife. Place cake on cake plate and brush cake liberally with lemon syrup. Spread layer of frosting across top. Repeat with all cake layers. Apply very thin layer of frosting to sides and top of cake to seal in crumbs. Let chill for 30 minutes.

Step 12

Apply thicker layer of frosting to sides and top of cake, covering cake completely. Smooth with offset spatula. Chill for 20 minutes.

To Decorate the Cake:

Step 13

Tint 4 bowls of reserved frosting with golden yellow, pink, lavender and green gel coloring. Add to piping bags.

Step 14

With Wilton Tip #69, pipe green leaves along the top edge and down the side of the cake to build flowers on. With Wilton Tip #20, pipe pink roses on top of green leaves by starting with a small circle, and moving the circle outwards in a swirling motion. Repeat until you have 6 roses around the outside of cake. With Wilton Tip #21, pipe lavender flowers by holding piping bag straight over top of cake and applying pressure to pipe flowers. Using Wilton Tip #32, fill in with smaller yellow flowers, using the same process as the lavender ones. Continue adding flowers to top of cake, adding more leaves as needed. Overlapping the flowers builds height and makes this cake look layered and complex. Add sugar pearls to the centers of yellow flowers. Slice and serve.