Cream Cheese

Rich Lemon Cake with Lime Cream Cheese Frosting

March 30, 2021
5 Ratings
Photo by Julia Gartland
  • Serves 12–16
Author Notes

This is a very dense cake, so if you're looking for something light and ethereal, keep looking! But if the idea of a so-dense-it's-almost-chewy cake interests you, you're in the right place. —Joanna Sciarrino

What You'll Need
  • Lemon Cake
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 4 1/2 cups cake flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 1/4 cups sugar
  • 6 lemons, zested
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/3 cups heavy cream
  • 4 tablespoons dark rum
  • Lime Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 16 ounces (1 lbs) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 lime, zested and juiced
  • 6 cups powdered sugar
  1. Lemon Cake
  2. Preheat the oven 350°F. Grease two 9-inch round cake pans, then line the bottom with parchment paper. Grease the top of the parchment paper and dust the whole pan with flour, shaking out the excess.
  3. In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. In another large bowl, combine the sugar and lemon zest. Massage the sugar and zest with your fingers until the sugar is slightly damp—you really want to release the oils into the sugar.
  4. Add the eggs to the lemon-infused sugar and whisk until foamy. Whisk in the cream and rum. Gradually add the dry mixture into the wet mixture, stirring with a rubber spatula to combined. Fold in the cooled, melted butter and stir until thick and smooth. Divide the batter evenly between the pans and bake for about 1½ hours, until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool in the pans for about 20 minutes. Invert onto wire racks, carefully peel off the paper liners, and let cool completely.
  1. Lime Cream Cheese Frosting
  2. Cream together the butter and cream cheese until very smooth. Add the powdered sugar ½ cup at a time, beating until incorporated after each addition. Finally, add the salt, 2 teaspoons of lime zest, and 1 tablespoons of lime juice and beat again until smooth and fluffy. If the frosting is too thick, add more lime juice.
  3. Frost the cake: Place one cake layer, flat side up, on a cake stand or large serving plate. Spread with a thick layer of frosting. Repeat with the second layer and frost the top and sides of the cake with a thin layer of frosting to bind any crumbs together. Chill the cake for 30 minutes or until the crumb coat is set. When the cake is chilled, frost with a thick layer of frosting, creating big swoopy swirls across the entire exterior. Sprinkle with lime zest, slice, and serve.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Keribh
  • Emi Lipe Love
    Emi Lipe Love
  • REDinNYC
  • Joanna Sciarrino
    Joanna Sciarrino

16 Reviews

Keribh October 24, 2018
I thought this cake was going to turn out well but the hour and a half cooking time makes no sense. It was done cooking at an hour and ten, and I wanted to take it out but felt uneasy going against the instructions so much. I left it in for another 10 minutes and it was completely overbaked. The edges were dried out and hard as a rock. I know it’s a dense cake, but it seems like the cooking time should be an hour at most!
Joanna S. October 24, 2018
Hi Keribh, I'm sorry to hear that 1.5 hours was too long! Did you use 9-inch pans at 350°F? Sometimes variations in ovens affect bake times. In any case, I'm sorry it didn't turn out well. It's been a while since I've made this cake, but I'm going to test it again ASAP and verify all the measurements and times.
Keribh October 24, 2018
Thank you for replying! Yes I did use 9 inch pans and 350 degree oven. My pans are darker and can overbake cakes, so I was expecting to take the cakes out a little early, but I was surprised at how much earlier I would have needed to take them out. My pans only have 2 inch sides instead of 3 inch sides, would that cause a problem? Anyway the flavor of the cake was great, just really bummed about the overbaking.
Emi L. April 1, 2018
I missed the memo about the cake being super dense. No joke. Ended up whipping in lemon curd into the frosting.
Maxie C. February 26, 2018
The frosting calls for 12 cups of powdered sugar. 12 cups?? Is that a typo?
Joanna S. February 26, 2018
As mentioned in the Author Notes, this recipe actually makes a double batch of frosting to have enough to create big swooshes on the top. But feel free to half it for a standard amount of frosting for one cake!
katie February 26, 2018
Hi Maxie andJoanna,

I made this last week and followed the recipe exactly, but the icing did not turn out as described. It was very runny (from too much sugar I think) and more like a glaze in the end. I have three Tupperware containers of leftover icing in the freezer.

I also read the recipe you posted for chocolate cake with tahini buttercream, which has similar amounts of other ingredients and only 3 cups powdered sugar. Perhaps it was accidentally multiplied incorrectly? Should be six cups for the double instead of 12?

If making this again, I’ll reduce the baking time a bit for the cake and add another block of cream cheese to my leftover icing to thicken it up to achieve swooshes.
Joanna S. February 26, 2018
Hi Katie,

This is good to know! I'm sorry the frosting did not come out right for you. Considering this information and the general confusion about the amounts, I think i'll update the recipes to be for one batch of frosting as opposed to a double batch. Thanks for your feedback!
keritexas February 25, 2018
Just checking - the six lemons - you only use the zest but not the juice? Thank you
Joanna S. February 25, 2018
Yes, just the zest. I've updated the recipe to hopefully make it a little clearer that you're not using the juice too.
REDinNYC February 19, 2018
How would you modify the recipe to make a sheet pan version?
Emi L. April 1, 2018
This recipe ended up making a half sheet for me with a tad bit left over for 1 single cupcake.
katie February 19, 2018
In step 2 of the cake instructions it says to reserve 1 Tbsp of lemon zest, but I can't see further along what to do with the reserved lemon zest. Is it to go with the lime zest at the end?
Joanna S. February 19, 2018
Sorry about that! All fixed. No need to reserve!
keritexas February 18, 2018
I'm curious about the measurement of limes in the frosting . It says 2 teaspoon limes. Assuming it's just a typo. Thank you!
Joanna S. February 19, 2018
A typo indeed! Just 2 limes, not teaspoon :)