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Easy Lemon Sponge Cake Recipe with Lemon Frosting

I’ve got a recipe that’s as easy as pie (or cake, in this case) and as tasty as a sunny day picnic. Introducing my Easy Lemon Sponge Cake Recipe with Lemon Frosting.

Easy Lemon Sponge Cake Recipe with Lemon Frosting

When life hands you lemons, why settle for lemonade when you can whip up this amazing cake?

No need to follow complicated steps here. We’re talking about a down-to-earth, real-deal kind of recipe.

Whether you’re a kitchen newbie or a seasoned baker, this one’s for you. We’re keeping it simple, honest, and, most importantly, seriously tasty.

Ingredients you’ll need for this lemon cake recipe

You’ll need simple ingredients for this homemade cake, found in any grocery store:

  • Cake flour. Cake flour, with its lower protein content, ensures a tender crumb and a light texture in the cake. 
  • Baking powder. As a leavening agent, baking powder is crucial for the cake’s rise. When heated, it releases carbon dioxide gas, creating bubbles in the batter that result in a soft and airy structure.
  • Salt. Salt enhances the overall flavor profile by balancing sweetness.
  • Eggs. Eggs play a vital role in binding the ingredients together. They add moisture and bring richness to the cake.
  • Granulated sugar. Sugar makes the cake tender and light by slowing down gluten formation.
  • Pure Vanilla extract. Vanilla adds depth and helps enhance the flavors of the cake.
  • Lemon juice and lemon zest. Meyer lemons are the flavor heroes. The juice brings acidity for a bit of tang, while the zest adds that fresh, citrusy kick.
  • Sour cream. Sour cream is the secret to a moist and luscious cake. It adds richness and a creamy texture.
  • Unsalted butter. Adds moisture, and ensures a soft, delicate texture.
  • Powdered sugar. Used for the lemon buttercream frosting. 

Take a look at the recipe card of this simple lemon sponge cake recipe at the bottom of this post for the full recipe.

Easy Lemon Sponge Cake Recipe with Lemon Frosting

How to make this easy lemon cake

Lemon Sponge Cake

To make this delicious lemon sponge cake, start by pre-heating your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and lining the bottom of two 8-inch cake pans with parchment paper. Don’t grease the sides of the pan.

Next, measure, then sift your dry ingredients, and set them aside.

In a large bowl of a stand mixer or using an electric hand mixer with the whisk attachment, beat the eggs, sugar, and vanilla on medium-high speed until they triple in size, which takes about 5 minutes.

It’s important not to overbeat the eggs; just whip them to the right volume for best results. If the mixture becomes too stiff, the cake won’t rise properly.

Lift the whisk from the batter and make a figure-eight with the dripping batter. Count to 10 seconds. If the figure-eight stays on the batter, it’s good. If it sinks before 10 seconds, beat it a bit more.

Add fresh lemon juice and lemon peel to the cake batter and mix.

Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the flour into the egg mixture until just combined. Be careful not to overmix to keep the batter light and fluffy and prevent popping the air bubbles created by whipping the eggs. This will ensure an airy cake.

In a small bowl, mix the sour cream and melted butter together.

Fold in the sour cream and melted butter mixture the same way you did with the flour. These ingredients will help achieve a moist lemon cake. Pour the batter into the pans, dividing it equally between the two, and immediately place them in the oven to bake.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean and the cake looks golden brown.

Remove the sponge cakes from the oven, place them on a wire rack, and let them cool for 5 minutes. You can loosen the sides by inserting a knife between the cake and the pan.

Invert both cake tins onto the cooling rack and remove the parchment paper from the bottom.

Finally, leave the cakes to completely cool upside down on the wire rack for around 2-3 hours.

In the meantime, start making the lemon buttercream.

Lemon Buttercream

Over a large mixing bowl and using the whisk attachment, cream butter for 2 minutes on medium-high speed, or until light and fluffy.

Sift your powdered sugar. Turn to low speed and gradually add your sifted icing sugar, vanilla extract, salt, and lemon juice until just combined. Turn the speed to high and beat for an additional minute. Scrape the sides of the bowl to ensure all of the ingredients are well mixed. Frosting should look light and fluffy.

To assemble your cake, Put one cake layer on a serving plate. This will be the bottom layer.

Next, using an offset spatula, apply a layer of frosting on top of the first cake layer. Make sure to spread it evenly across the surface.

Place the second layer on top of the frosted first layer.

Apply a thin layer of frosting around the entire cake. Don’t worry if some of the cake is showing through; this is intentional for the naked cake look.

Finally, add whole, half, quartered lemons, lemon slices, and edible greenery on top of the cake.

What is the secret of sponge cake?

  1. Skip greasing the sides: instead, line the bottom with parchment paper. Leaving the sides ungreased helps the cake climb up for a light and fluffy texture. 
  2. Use room temperature eggs: Ensure your eggs are at room temperature before using them in the recipe. This promotes better whipping, creating a stable and voluminous egg foam crucial for achieving a light and airy texture in your sponge cake.
  3. Don’t over-mix your eggs: perform a figure-eight test with the batter, allowing it to stay for 10 seconds. If it holds the figure-eight, it’s good; otherwise, beat it a bit more for a spongy texture.
  4. Fold in flour and butter gently: When incorporating flour and butter, use a gentle folding motion to mix them into the wet ingredients, preventing air bubbles from popping and the cake from deflating. 
  5. Bake immediately: Preheat the oven and have your cake pan ready before starting, ensuring you bake immediately. This quick action prevents air bubbles from popping and safeguards against the cake deflating as it bakes. 
  6. Avoid opening the oven: During baking, avoid opening the oven door frequently, to stop the cake from sinking; only check for doneness near the end of the baking time.
  7. Cool Inverted: Finally, after baking, cool the sponge cake by inverting it onto a cooling rack. This prevents it from collapsing as it cools.
Easy Lemon Sponge Cake Recipe with Lemon Frosting

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between a sponge cake and a regular cake?

Sponge cake and regular cake differ in their textures and ingredients. Sponge cake is lighter, using simple ingredients like eggs, sugar, and flour, as a result, a drier texture due to beaten eggs providing leavening. In contrast, regular cake, or butter cake, is moister and richer, with a broader mix of ingredients like butter, oil, and leavening agents for a denser feel. It’s all about personal preference—light and airy or rich and moist.

What makes a sponge light and fluffy?

A sponge cake is made light and fluffy by beating eggs, sugar, and other wet ingredients until they become thick and frothy. This incorporates a lot of air into the batter, creating tiny bubbles that make the cake rise during baking. Unlike regular cakes that use leavening agents, the key to a sponge cake’s lightness is the whipped eggs, giving it a delicate and airy texture.

Can I use all-purpose flour instead of Cake flour?

Yes, you can use all-purpose flour instead of cake flour in your sponge cake. However, keep in mind that the texture may be slightly denser. Use an equal amount of all-purpose flour and consider adding 2 tablespoons of cornstarch per cup of flour to mimic the lower protein content of cake flour for a softer texture.

How to store any leftover sponge cake?

For a plain sponge cake without any perishable toppings, you can store it at room temperature for about 3 to 4 days. Just be sure to cover it well and wrap it up tightly to keep it fresh.

However, if your sponge cake has fresh toppings like fruit, it’s better to keep it in the fridge. Place it in an airtight container and refrigerate it for around 4-5 days to preserve the freshness of the toppings and maintain the overall quality of your cake.

Easy Lemon Sponge Cake Recipe with Lemon Frosting

Follow this link if you’re looking for more cake recipes. Click this link you’re planning a Mother’s Day breakfast, or click the links below for some similar recipes you might like:

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

Strawberry Lemon Baked Donuts

No-bake Key Lime Pie Recipe

No-Churn Key Lime Pie Ice Cream

If you make this recipe, please be sure to give it a star rating and leave a comment!

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Easy Lemon Sponge Cake Recipe with Lemon Frosting
Print Recipe
5 from 2 votes

Easy Lemon Sponge Cake Recipe with Lemon Frosting

I've got a recipe that's as easy as pie (or cake, in this case) and as tasty as a sunny day picnic. Introducing my Easy Lemon Sponge Cake Recipe with Lemon Frosting.
Prep Time45 minutes
Cook Time28 minutes
Total Time1 hour 13 minutes
Course: Cakes
Cuisine: American
Keyword: easy lemon cake, Easy Lemon Sponge Cake Recipe with Lemon Frosting, lemon cake recipe, lemon spongecake recipe
Servings: 16 servings

Equipment

  • 1 Electric mixer
  • 2 8-inch baking pans
  • 2 sheets parchment paper

Ingredients

Lemon Sponge Cake

  • 1 ¾ cup cake flour spooned and leveled
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 large eggs room temperature
  • 1 large egg yolk room temperature
  • 1 ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice freshly squeezed
  • 2 lemons zest
  • 1/2 cup sour cream room temperature
  • 1 cup unsalted butter melted and cooled

Lemon Buttercream

  • 1 cup unsalted butter room temperature
  • 4 ½ cups powdered sugar spooned and leveled, then sifted
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice freshly squeezed
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large lemons and edible greenery for garnish

Instructions

Lemon Sponge Cake

  • Start by pre-heating your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and lining the bottom of two 8-inch cake pans with parchment paper. Don't grease the sides of the pan.
  • Measure, then sift your dry ingredients, and set them aside.
    1 ¾ cup cake flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • In a large bowl of a stand mixer or using an electric hand mixer with the whisk attachment, beat the eggs, sugar, and vanilla on medium-high speed until they triple in size, which takes about 5 minutes.
    It's important not to overbeat the eggs; just whip them to the right volume for best results. If the mixture becomes too stiff, the cake won't rise properly.
    Lift the whisk from the batter and make a figure-eight with the dripping batter. Count to 10 seconds. If the figure-eight stays on the batter, it's good. If it sinks before 10 seconds, beat it a bit more.
    4 large eggs, 1 large egg yolk, 1 ¼ cup granulated sugar, 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Add fresh lemon juice and lemon peel to the cake batter and mix.
    3 tablespoons lemon juice, 2 lemons zest
  • Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the flour into the egg mixture until just combined. Be careful not to overmix to keep the batter light and fluffy and prevent popping the air bubbles created by whipping the eggs. This will ensure an airy cake.
  • In a small bowl, mix the sour cream and melted butter together.
    1/2 cup sour cream, 1 cup unsalted butter
  • Fold in the sour cream and melted butter mixture the same way you did with the flour. These ingredients will help achieve a moist lemon cake. Pour the batter into the pans, dividing it equally between the two, and immediately place them in the oven to bake.
  • Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean and the cake looks golden brown.
  • Remove the sponge cakes from the oven, place them on a wire rack, and let them cool for 5 minutes. You can loosen the sides by inserting a knife between the cake and the pan.
    Invert both cake tins onto the cooling rack and remove the parchment paper from the bottom.
    Leave the cakes to completely cool upside down on the wire rack for around 2-3 hours.

Lemon Buttercream

  • Over a large mixing bowl and using the whisk attachment, cream butter for 2 minutes on medium-high speed, or until light and fluffy.
    1 cup unsalted butter
  • Sift your powdered sugar. Turn to low speed and gradually add your sifted icing sugar, vanilla extract, salt, and lemon juice until just combined. Turn the speed to high and beat for an additional minute. Scrape the sides of the bowl to ensure all of the ingredients are well mixed. Frosting should look light and fluffy.
    4 ½ cups powdered sugar, 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • To assemble your cake, Put one cake layer on a serving plate. This will be the bottom layer.
    Using an offset spatula, apply a layer of frosting on top of the first cake layer. Make sure to spread it evenly across the surface.
    Place the second layer on top of the frosted first layer.
  • Apply a thin layer of frosting around the entire cake. Don't worry if some of the cake is showing through; this is intentional for the naked cake look.
  • Add whole, half, quartered lemons, lemon slices, and edible greenery on top of the cake.
    3 large lemons and edible greenery

Notes

What is the secret of sponge cake?

  1. Skip greasing the sides: instead, line the bottom with parchment paper. Leaving the sides ungreased helps the cake climb up for a light and fluffy texture. 
  2. Use room temperature eggs: Ensure your eggs are at room temperature before using them in the recipe. This promotes better whipping, creating a stable and voluminous egg foam crucial for achieving a light and airy texture in your sponge cake.
  3. Don’t over-mix your eggs: perform a figure-eight test with the batter, allowing it to stay for 10 seconds. If it holds the figure-eight, it’s good; otherwise, beat it a bit more for a spongy texture.
  4. Fold in flour and butter gently: When incorporating flour and butter, use a gentle folding motion to mix them into the wet ingredients, preventing air bubbles from popping and the cake from deflating. 
  5. Bake immediately: Preheat the oven and have your cake pan ready before starting, ensuring you bake immediately. This quick action prevents air bubbles from popping and safeguards against the cake deflating as it bakes. 
  6. Avoid opening the oven: During baking, avoid opening the oven door frequently, to stop the cake from sinking; only check for doneness near the end of the baking time.
  7. Cool Inverted: After baking, cool the sponge cake by inverting it onto a cooling rack. This prevents it from collapsing as it cools.

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