Lemon Cake with Lemon Buttercream Frosting

Serves 16

Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free
Lemon is one of my husband’s and my favorite flavors, so that’s what we picked for our wedding cake. Our friends Lee Tobin, founder and team leader of the Whole Foods Market Gluten-Free bakehouse in Morrisville, North Carolina, and his wife, Aggie Stachura, made our cake using my recipe and whimsical gluten-free fondant decorations over frosting. They helped us build the World’s Tallest Gluten-Free Cake for our 1in133.org Gluten-Free Food labeling summit in 2011, so I knew they were up to the task of a simple gluten- and dairy-free wedding cake. You can make the cake in layers or as cupcakes and can double, triple or quadruple the recipe.


  • 3 cups all-purpose gluten-free flour (such as gfJules™ All Purpose Gluten-Free Flour)
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ¼ cup powdered milk (dairy or nondairy alternative such as Vance’s DariFree™ Powder)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup nondairy butter (such as Earth Balance® Buttery Sticks) or butter
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 eggs plus 1 yolk
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • ¾ cup milk (dairy, coconut, almond or soy)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • ½ tablespoon poppy seeds (optional)
  • Lemon Buttercream Frosting
  • ½ cup nondairy butter, softened (such as Earth Balance® Buttery Sticks) or butter
  • 3½ cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • ¼ cup milk (dairy, coconut, almond or soy)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest (plus extra to sprinkle on top)


Preheat oven to 350° F or 325° F for convection ovens.

Whisk dry ingredients in a large bowl and set aside.

Cream butter and sugar in a large bowl, beating until light and fluffy. Slowly add eggs and yolk, one at a time, mixing to integrate. Add 2 tablespoons lemon juice and mix.

Finally, alternately beat in dry ingredients and milk, just until combined and batter is smooth. Stir in lemon zest and poppy seeds, if adding.

Oil two 7- or 8-inch round cake pans lightly (or put approximately 26 decorative cupcake liners in a cupcake pan.) Pour in cake batter and smooth with a rubber spatula. Bake until cakes pull away slightly from the sides of the pan, approximately 25 minutes for round pans and 20 minutes for cupcakes. Test for doneness by inserting a toothpick into the center of the cake– if it is clean or has very few crumbs, the cake is done.

Let the cake cool on a wire rack for 10 to 15 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the pan, if necessary to release the cake, and invert onto a wire rack. Frost when cool.

Lemon Buttercream Frosting
Cream butter and sifted confectioners’ sugar in a large bowl, adding the sugar ½ cup at a time to blend it in slowly.

Slowly add the milk, vanilla extract and lemon juice. Whip 1 to 2 minutes until fluffy, then stir in the zest.

If the frosting is too thin, whip in more confectioners’ sugar, ¼ cup at a time; if it’s too stiff, stir in more milk, 1 tablespoon at a time, until it reaches spreadable consistency.

Cook’s tip: Frostings like this one work best if you have a whisk attachment on a stand-mixer like a KitchenAid ®. However, a hand-mixer will do; just be sure to add extra time for whipping at the end of the recipe.

Baking time: 25 minutes for round pans and 20 minutes for cupcakes. Cooling time: 10 to 15 minutes.

Nutritional Analysis:
Calories: 300 (no frosting), 450 (with frosting), 160 (frosting only), Carbohydrates: 55 g (no frosting), 82 g (with frosting), 27 g (frosting only), Protein: 3 g (no frosting), 3 g (with frosting), 0 g (frosting only), Fat: 13 g (no frosting), 13 g (with frosting), 6 g (frosting only), Cholesterol: 45 mg (no frosting), 45 mg (with frosting), 0 mg (frosting only), Sodium: 130 mg (no frosting), 190 mg (with frosting), 60 mg (frosting only), Fiber: 1 g (no frosting), 1 g (with frosting), 0 g (frosting only)

Jules Shepard, gluten-free cookbook author, blogger and founder of gfJules Gluten-Free Flour and Baking Mixes, has now been happily married for 4 months. Like the meals she serves her husband and family, her wedding was entirely gluten free.