Lemon Layer Cake with Lemon Poppy Seed Cream Cheese Frosting



Every year I look forward to baking my own birthday cake. A new cake every year for the last several years. Perhaps one day I’ll tire of this or change it up with a pie or other type of dessert, but as of now, I’ll stick with cake. This is also the first year I celebrated my birthday a la quarantine style due to Covid-19.

A few weeks ago, before the world seemingly fell apart, we went to Colorado to visit my parents. While we were there, the state essentially shut down because of the Coronavirus so we opted to return home to get some things done before returning to work. It was at that time, my boss let me know I was unable to return to work for 2 weeks since I’d been in Colorado. While there are still slices of this yummy lemony cake left, my birthday has now come & gone. I’ve done some conference calls & will be back to work tomorrow as an essential worker in my role as a hospice social worker. Since the rest of my beloveds birthdays are to follow, we joked about having this cake to celebrate:



Stay safe out there & wash your hands!


For the cake:

  • 3 cups cake flour or all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 3/4 cups of sugar
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 4 eggs at room temperature
  • 1 cup buttermilk (**or 1 cup sour cream)
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • Thinly sliced lemons & fresh raspberries for garnish

For the frosting:

  • 8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • Pinch of salt
  • Zest of 2 lemons
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • 4-5 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 tbsp poppy seeds


For the cake:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees (since my oven bakes at a higher temperature, I preheated mine to 335 degrees). Grease & flour 2 9-inch pans (you can also use 3 pans, if you’d like) & line with parchment paper that is also greased & floured; set aside.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, & salt; set aside.

Put the sugar in a food processor along with the zest of one lemon. Pulse until the sugar & zest is completely incorporated. If you don’t have a food processor, you can use the back of a large spoon & press the zest into the sugar until fully incorporated.

Cream together the butter & lemon infused sugar for 3 minutes, scraping down the sides & bottom of the bowl, as needed. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Slowly incorporate flour mixture into creamed mixture & mix on low until it just comes together. Add in the buttermilk (or sour cream) & fresh lemon juice. Mix together, being careful not to over-mix.

Divide the batter evenly between the pans. If using 3 pans, bake for 23 minutes or until toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean. Since I used 2 pans, I baked for 33 minutes, again at 335 degrees.

Allow the cakes to cool for 10 minutes prior to removing from pans. Allow cakes to cool completely on cooling rack before frosting.

For the frosting:

Cream together the cream cheese & butter until smooth. Add in the salt, lemon juice, & zest until incorporated. Using 2 cups of powdered sugar at a time, sift in & beat well after each addition, scraping down the sides & bottom of bowl to fully incorporate.

After frosting the cakes, garnish with thin lemon slices & fresh raspberries. Note: the lemon slices are for presentation only, don’t leave them on the cake as the liquid from the lemons will seep out.

*If planning to use three pans, I’d increase the cream cheese to 16 oz, add another stick of butter, increase the powdered sugar by another 3 cups, & another tablespoon of poppy seeds.

**This is the first time I made this cake, & while I did not over mix or over bake, the cakes weren’t as moist as I would have liked. In the future, I will use 1 cup sour cream in lieu of 1 cup buttermilk.

Recipe for cake obtained from: https://theviewfromgreatisland.com/lemon-layer-cake-with-lemon-poppy-seed-buttercream-recipe/


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