This lemon buttermilk sheet cake is one of those go-to recipes for me. It’s easy and unbelievably delicious, and it’s not a layer cake and therefore pretty close to fail-proof when it comes to cake baking. The cake itself is incredibly light and tender and instead of a thick, rich frosting on top, it’s covered in a light and tangy lemon buttermilk glaze and topped with lemon sugar, which gives it a unique little crunch on top. This lemon buttermilk cake is perfect for just about any occasion!
- Cake Flour – You can find cake flour in a box near the other flours on the baking aisle. It has a finer texture than all purpose flour and is part of what makes this cake so tender and light. If you make this cake with all purpose flour, I’m sure it will still taste delicious- but it won’t be as light and tender as it would be with cake flour. I recommend taking the time to purchase cake flour for this recipe. If it’s not something you will use often, store the extra in your freezer to last longer.
- Lemons – You will need both the juice and the zest. Use fresh lemons, no bottled juice or dehydrated lemon zest.
- Butter – For best results, use real butter in this recipe.
- Add ons – This cake is delicious on its own. If serving for an event, it looks beautiful topped with or served alongside blueberries, raspberries, and/or strawberries. A dollop of Sweetened Whipped Cream would be delicious as well!
How To Make Lemon Buttermilk Sheet Cake
Here’s a quick overview of the process, keep scrolling for full detailed, printable instructions.
- Heat oven to 325 degrees and prepare your baking pan.
- Whisk together your dry ingredients and your wet ingredients separately and set aside.
- This is where the magic happens. You’ll beat together granulated sugar and fresh lemon zest until it creates this gorgeous lemon sugar that you will want to eat with a spoon! Part of this will be reserved for sprinkling on top of the cake after, and the rest will be used to start your cake batter.
- Add the softened butter to the remaining sugar mixture and beat until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs and yolk, one at a time, until incorporated. Then add the flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the buttermilk mixture.
- Scrape the batter into your baking pan and bake until the cake is golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean (about 25-35 minutes). Be careful not to over bake!
- While the cake is cooling, combine the glaze ingredients in a small mixing bowl and whisk until smooth. Gently spread the glaze over the cake and sprinkle evenly with the reserved sugar mixture.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Can I make this cake ahead of time? Yes. Feel free to bake ahead up to 24 hours in advance. Make sure the cake has cooled completely before covering with foil and storing at room temperature.
Did You Make This?
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A light, tart lemon sheet cake. Easy to make, yet elegant enough for company. Perfect for showers and parties!
2 1/2 cups (10 ounces) cake flour (no substitutions)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon table salt
3/4 cup buttermilk
3 tablespoons grated lemon zest
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cup white sugar
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
3 large eggs plus 1 large egg yolk
3 cups (12 ounces) powdered sugar
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons buttermilk
Optional: fruit or whipped cream for serving, see notes
- Make sure the oven rack is in the middle position (unless you’ve found that another position works better in your oven for baking) and heat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour a 9×13″ baking dish and set aside.
- Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside. In a measuring cup, combine buttermilk, lemon juice, and vanilla. Set aside.
- Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the white sugar and lemon zest on medium speed until moist and fragrant (about 1 minute). Remove 1/4 cup of the sugar mixture and place it in a small bowl. Cover and set aside.
- Add the softened butter to the remaining sugar mixture and beat until light and fluffy (about 2 minutes). Beat in the eggs and yolk, one at a time, until incorporated. Reduce speed to low. Add the flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the buttermilk mixture in 2 additions. Mix until smooth (about 30 seconds)
- Scrape the batter into the reserved baking pan and smooth out the top. Bake until the cake is golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean (about 25-35 minutes). Be careful not to over bake. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and allow to cool for 10 minutes.
- While the cake is cooling, whisk the glaze ingredients together until smooth. Gently spread the glaze over the cake and sprinkle evenly with the reserved sugar mixture. Allow to cool completely, at least 2 hours.
- Cover any leftovers with foil and store at room temperature. Eat within 2-3 days.
- This cake is delicious on its own. If serving for an event, it looks beautiful topped with or served alongside blueberries, raspberries, and/or strawberries. A dollop of Sweetened Whipped Cream would be delicious as well!