Italian Lemon Cake

5 from 7 votes
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Italian lemon cake is light, bright and citrusy from fresh lemon. Lightly sweetened and perfect for spring. You will love this bright lemon zested cake for breakfast or to snack on.

Lemon cake with powdered sugar, icing on a cutting board.
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Why Make This Italian Lemon Cake

This cake is beautiful, it’s light and airy in flavor. You can really taste the fresh lemon and lemon zest. I recommend the optional icing, this cake isn’t your average cake, it’s not nearly as sweet as most, making it a great snacking cake. Bright and full of spring flavor and practically fool-proof. You can also make this cake into a bread loaf and have a bread instead.

Ingredients Needed

Ingredients to make this cake all in bowls on a counter top.
  • All Purpose Flour. You can use all purpose gluten free flour as well.
  • Baking Powder. This is the leavening agent to help the cake rise.
  • Butter. I use unsalted butter, you can also use a plant based alternative butter if needed to make this dairy free.
  • Sugar. White, granulated sugar.
  • Eggs. You will need two large eggs.
  • Milk. Half & half is best, however ANY milk will work with this recipe. I have made it with almond milk and it works great.
  • Vanilla Extract & Lemon Extract. I like to use a little of both for the ultimate flavor blast. You can find both in the baking aisle.
  • Fresh Lemons. Use the lemon zest, and the juice for this recipe.
  • Powdered Sugar. This is also called confectionary sugar. This is to make the icing for the Italian lemon cake.

Recipe Variations

Lemon Extract. If you do not have lemon extract, you can just use vanilla or almond extract.

Lemon. I highly recommend fresh lemon for the best flavor and for the fresh lemon zest.

Milk. You can use half/half or 2 % milk or use almond or any other nut milk.

Flour. To make this gluten free, be sure to use a gluten free all purpose blend flour.

Steps To Make This Recipe

Step One. Preheat oven to 350º. In a medium bowl, mix salt, baking powder and flour. Set aside.

Step Two. With a stand mixer or hand mixer, cream together the sugar and butter. Add one egg at a time, vanilla and lemon extract, lemon juice, milk and lemon zest. Next, slowly add in the flour mix. Do not over mix, but it should form a thick batter.

Step Three. In a 9 inch cake pan, place parchment paper on bottom or, grease the pan properly and sprinkle just a little flour around it to help prevent sticking. Using a spatula, add the batter to the cake pan. You will need a little patience, just push the batter around to the edges and make sure it is evenly spread and mostly smooth on top.

Cake pan with batter in it and lemon zest.

Step Four. Put the cake pan in the oven, cook for about 25-29 minutes. Check on it at 25 minutes with a toothpick in the center. If it comes out clean it is finished. Allow the cake to cool for about 10-15 minutes. Meanwhile while it’s cooling, mix the icing together. Set aside.

Step Five. Once the cake has cooled, take it out of the cake pan carefully. Set it on a cutting board. Dust with powdered sugar and leftover lemon zest. Drizzle the icing over the top, don’t be shy. Slice and enjoy!

Lemon cake up close on a fork.

Recipe FAQ’s

What is Italian lemon cake?

It’s a light fluffy cake, typically used for snacking. It has lots of citrus flavor.

Can I make this gluten free?

Yes, you can make italian lemon cake Gluten free by using all purpose gluten free blend.

Does this cake need icing?

I think this cake is very mild in sweetness, so I prefer a nice heavy drizzle of icing. You can skip it if you want to cut down on sugar.

Other Sweet Recipes To Enjoy

If you loved this recipe let me know! Also, follow me on Instagram & Pinterest for even more fun recipes to make you feel good from the inside out. Thanks for being here.

Cake with lemon zest on a cutting board.
5 from 7 votes

Italian Lemon Cake

Italian lemon cake is light, bright and citrusy from fresh lemon. Lightly sweetened and perfect for spring. 
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Servings: 8

Equipment

  • 9" cake pan or bread loaf

Ingredients 

  • cup all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 4 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • ½ cup white granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup half & half, *see notes
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp lemon extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 Tbsp lemon zest, *about 2 lemons
  • ¼ cup lemon juice

2 ingredient icing

  • 1 cup confectioner sugar
  • 1 tsp milk or water, *you may need ½ tsp more to thin it out

Instructions 

  • Preheat oven to 350º. In a medium bowl, mix salt, baking powder and flour. Set aside.
  • With a stand mixer or hand mixer, cream together the sugar and butter. Add one egg at a time, vanilla and lemon extract, lemon juice, milk and lemon zest. Next, slowly add in the flour mix. Do not over mix, but it should form a thick batter.
  • In a 9 inch cake pan, place parchment paper on the bottom or, grease the pan properly and sprinkle just a little flour around it to help prevent sticking. Using a spatula, add the batter to the cake pan. You will need a little patience, just push the batter around to the edges and make sure it is evenly spread and mostly smooth on top
  • Put the cake pan in the oven, cook for about 25-29 minutes. Check on it at 25 minutes with a toothpick in the center. If it comes out clean it is finished. Allow the cake to cool for about 10-15 minutes. Meanwhile while it's cooling, mix the icing together. Set aside.
  • Once the cake has cooled, take it out of the cake pan carefully. Set it on a cutting board. Dust with powdered sugar and leftover lemon zest. Drizzle the icing over the top, don't be shy. Slice and enjoy!

Notes

*nut milks will also work. 
*keep cake in a cake holder or covered with plastic wrap in the fridge for up to 5 days. You can also freeze using an airtight bag for up to 2 months. 

Nutrition

Serving: 1slice | Calories: 257kcal | Carbohydrates: 44g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 0.2g | Cholesterol: 59mg | Sodium: 201mg | Potassium: 59mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 28g | Vitamin A: 262IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 80mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Author: Bailey
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 8
Calories: 257
Keyword: 30 minute, dessert
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Recipe Rating




9 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Just pulled this out of the oven, it’s perfect and smells delicious. What an easy recipe! I’m going to try orange next time.

  2. 5 stars
    This was really easy to make and super delicious. We made it for Easter and my family absolutely loved it.

  3. 5 stars
    An amazing dessert!!!! So simple even I can make it! My husband loves lemon so it’s the perfect dessert for him.

    1. I am so happy to hear that! Thanks so much for trying it. Happy Baking! Xoxo

  4. 5 stars
    This was SO good and really easy. The cake was light and moist and not overly sweet. My husband doesn’t like sweets much but he ate half the cake after dinner.