This is a simple, from-scratch, one bowl lemon buttermilk cake perfumed with fragrant lemon zest and juice. It’s rustic yet elegant, and the batter comes together in only minutes! You can serve the cake as a Bundt cake or double layer cake.
This cake makes a great backdrop for your favorite icing. I love this whipped cream cheese frosting so much! It looks so pretty spread between two cake layers, however, a thick drippy lemon glaze drizzled over a pretty Bundt cake is also divine. For a bit of a floral twist, consider adding some lavender sugar to both the cake batter and the frosting.
- All-purpose flour
- Baking powder
Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Grease two 6-inch (15-cm) cake tins and line them with parchment paper.
In a large bowl whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together to combine.
Add the buttermilk, melted butter, vanilla, lemon zest, and lemon juice and mix well.
Add the eggs and continue to whisk until the batter is smooth and the ingredients are well incorporated.
Divide the one bowl lemon cake batter evenly between the two prepared 6-inch cake tins. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the cakes read 200ºF to 205ºF (93ºC to 96ºC).
Cool the two cakes on a rack for 10 minutes in their tins. Carefully remove the cakes from the pans and cool completely before icing.
Notes & Tips
Over the last year I’ve discovered the level of consistency of using a scale for baking is quite remarkable! Something to consider if you haven’t given it a try yet.
I think you can reduce the amount of sugar in most baking recipes by 25% and up to half. I started testing this one bowl lemon cake recipe with 1 cup (200 g) of sugar, yet after multiple bakes, I was just as happy with ½ cup (100 g).
Buttermilk is one of my favourite ingredients! My general rule of thumb is to try substituting buttermilk anywhere I’d use yogurt, milk, or sour cream.
You could beat the butter and sugar in a mixer until they’re light and fluffy, if you want, however, I haven’t found a noticeable difference in doing that. Melted butter is so much faster and easier!
I often double, and sometimes triple, the amount of vanilla in recipes, however, I held back here because I want the lemon to shine. If you love vanilla as much as I do, feel free to double the amount.
I use clear vanilla extract for most recipes with all-purpose flour to keep the colour of the crumb light and pristine.
Because lemons come in different sizes I recommend weighing out 50g of lemon juice, however, use the zest of one full lemon regardless of size.
After many sunken loaves of banana bread I began using a digital thermometer to determine the doneness of my baked goods. When the cakes have finished baking, take a temperature reading from the middle. An internal temperature of 200ºF to 205ºF (93ºC to 96ºC) is what you want and it hasn’t let me down yet! I am no longer frustrated by fallen or gummy centres.
I sometimes serve one cake as a single layer cake with glaze and freeze the second layer for later. To freeze, wrap the cake in a double-layer of plastic wrap, gently but tightly, and store it in the freezer for up to three months. To thaw, pull it from the freezer and store it in the fridge one day before serving. Remove it from the fridge a couple of hours before you need it to take the chill off.
I tested my one bowl lemon cake recipe with stone ground spelt flour and it was great, however I prefer the softer texture, and lighter colour, of all-purpose flour. You could substitute 25% whole wheat flour for all-purpose if you want. Any more than that and you’ll probably have to increase the amount of buttermilk.
For a crumb that’s even more tender and moist, substitute half of the butter with a light flavoured oil like vegetable, canola, or melted coconut.
If you don’t own 6-inch (15-cm) cake tins, you can bake this recipe in two 8-inch (20-cm) tins. Please note, each one bowl lemon cake layer will be less tall, and will probably bake faster, so keep an eye on the oven and have a thermometer ready.
More Buttermilk Recipes
Buttermilk Quiche With Ham, Cheddar, and Chives The classic French egg custard tart kicked up a notch with the tang and zip of creamy buttermilk!
One Bowl Lemon Cake With Buttermilk
- 10 cup Bundt pan I use Nordic Ware non-stick Bundt pans
- Commercial baking spray can be found in the baking aisle of most grocery stores
- Measuring cups and spoons or digital kitchen scale
- Microplane grater or other fine grater for zesting a lemon
- Citrus squeezer to extract lemon juice
- 1 Large mixing bowl
- Electric hand mixer or handheld whisk
- 1 Fine mesh sieve optional
- Rubber spatula or wooden spoon
- 1 ½ cups buttermilk
- 1 cup sugar
- ⅓ cup melted butter
- ⅓ cup vegetable oil
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 1 lemon zested and juiced, about ¼ cup (63ml) of juice
- 2 cups cake & pastry flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC) and lightly spray the inside of a 10-cup Bundt pan with baking spray. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the buttermilk, sugar, melted butter, vegetable oil, eggs, vanilla, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Use an electric hand mixer to mix everything together until smooth.
- Use a fine mesh sieve to sift the cake & pastry flour, baking powder, and baking soda into the bowl. Add the salt. Switch to a rubber spatula or wooden spoon. Stir the cake batter together until the flour is just combined—a few streaks of flour are ok and the batter will look lumpy.
- Use a measuring cup to scoop the batter evenly into the prepared Bundt pan, avoiding the center column. Use your spatula or spoon to lightly smooth the top of the batter before placing the cake tin in the preheated oven. Bake the cake for 37 to 40 minutes, or until the top springs back when lightly pressed with a finger, and the sides are pulling away from the tin.
- Remove the cake from the oven and place the tin on a wire rack. Cool the cake for 10 minutes before turning it out of the tin onto the rack. Cool the cake completely before icing or glazing.
Looking forward to making this very soon! It looks so delicious! I always take the sugar down by at least a half cup in recipes. I want to taste the lemon, or the berries, or whatever is in there, not the sweet sugar.
Yes exactly! It’s only recently that I discovered you could do this without really affecting the flavour or the texture at all. I tried making the recipe with coconut sugar, but nothing really compares to white sugar in baking. I also made the recipe as a 6-inch cake to fool myself into it being smaller! Ha! Thanks so much for reading Julia. 🙂
Matt - Total Feasts says
This sounds like a beautiful summer cake Kelly. Lemon and strawberry are a great combo, and I lime that you’ve sought to reduce sugar. I used to bake a lot more until I realised my sugar intake was way too high! Beautiful photos as per usual!
Thank you so much Matt! I love the petite-ness of a 6-inch cake (is that even a word? lol), and with the frosting you don’t even notice the reduced sugar. After a 40+ºC heatwave we’re finally on the verge of more seasonal temperatures here in Nova Scotia. I hate not being able to bake! Thanks for stopping in. 🙂
Could I do this in 8-inch pans?
You can but the cakes will be shorter and bake faster! I would watch for them to start to turn golden then check the internal temperature with a thermometer. Once you reach 200ºF to 205ºF (93ºC to 96ºC) they should be done. I always take a temperature reading to avoid an uncooked middle. Chances are you’re covering the thermometer hole with icing anyway! Xx.
Absolutely stunning cake! I love all the ingredients not to mention it’s beautiful. Such beautiful photography as well. A perfect cake for summer entertaining!
Aw, thanks so much Julia! To be honest it’s SUCH a simple cake to make. Even the frosting is so easy because most of the cake is exposed! A few wild roses on top and that’s it. Easy and delicious. Thanks for stopping by!
Isabelle @ Crumb says
I am just loving this collaboration! Aimee is one of my favourite bloggers (and a pretty awesome person in general), and this photo shoot feels like such a perfect intersection of your styles.
I am all about the strawberries right now and I happen to have a half-finished carton of buttermilk in the fridge, so I think this cake and I have a date this weekend. 🙂
Thanks so much Isabelle! I first met Aimée in person last year when she was touring her book. I did her food styling for a morning TV segment, and when she said she was moving here we knew we wanted to collaborate! This was our most fun shoot so far, and hopefully there are many more to come. 🙂 I hope you love the cake if you have time to make it (and the sweltering heat doesn’t deter you). Ha!
Absolutely gorgeous setting and the cake is just to die for. All my favourite flavours in there. Recipe saved! My daughter have seen it as well and she can’t wait for us to bake this at the weekend.
Thank you so much for sharing and for the inspo.
Thank you so much Ramona! Even though it’s hard to turn on the oven this time of year, this cake would be a great fit for any season. I hope you love making the recipe! I bake with my daughter all the time too. xo!
Uma Srinivas says
The cake looks so good with outside pictures. I love to use buttermilk in cakes, they give nice and fluffy texture. Totally awesome strawberry jam cake
Thank you so much for stopping by Uma! To be honest, I’m kind of new to buttermilk, but I LOVE the smell and the flavour. It’s become a basic fridge staple for me this summer!
I agree with you this is beautiful summer cake, lemon and strawberries are stars of summer. lovely setting to enjoy that beautiful cake. I wish I could taste a slice.
You really can’t go wrong with lemon and strawberries, and the lake setting doesn’t hurt either. Thank you for looking Swathi! xo!
Byron Thomas says
Let me start by saying that this cake (and the setting) is gorgeous! I’m also from the east coast and there’s really nothing like it! I’m a sucker for anything berry-like paired with lemon. I find that lemon is to fruit what salt is to vegetables. It just brings out the flavour. I make a lot of jams and I always use lemon. That’s what pulled me into this recipe. I make a lemon buttermilk cake quite often, but I’ve never added that gorgeous icing. Looks so good!
Aw, thanks so much Byron! Eating cake on a lakeside dock is definitely a highlight of summer for me. Sometimes I wonder – is it possible to post too many lemon recipes? lol Thanks for dropping by. 🙂
Shailaja Desai says
Gorgeous cake and stunning photography too
[email protected] says
What a lovely cake in an equally lovely setting on the lake. I am a huge fan of using a scale in baking for accuracy and consistent results. Thanks so much for sharing your tips and pretty cake recipe, Kelly!
Bernice Hill says
Buttermilk cake! Yes, that is a gorgeous cake and it really reminds me of Spring. I’m so ready for cake and Spring!
Gorgeous pink, decadent cake, breathtaking views! I can’t wait to bake this and I have just 2 questions:
1. Can I bake this with just one 6inch pan and how long and at what temperature do I need to bake it?
2. Can I replace buttermilk with greek yoghurt?
Thanks in advance!
Hi Des! Thank you so much!! Ok, so I haven’t tried either of these substitutions. I do have a really tall 6-inch tin, but have yet to use it. If you want to try, I would say bake it as per the instructions and occasionally check for doneness. When the cake reaches an internal temperature of 200ºF-205ºF it should be cooked through inside! Re: the buttermilk substitution I would say go for it because I use Greek yogurt in my banana bread recipe and it works beautifully. Again, I haven’t tested this recipe with either of these changes but would love to see how you make out if you do! Good luck! xo.
Thanks so much for your lightning fast response! Ok I will give it a shot and update you! Stay safe and bake well :p
So perfect, totally going to make this very soon…thanks so much for sharing! Any chance you could give us your glaze recipe?
Oh awesome, and yes 100%! Follow the directions in this post for Earl Grey glaze, except substitute lemon zest for the tea, and substitute lemon juice for milk. The key is to only add a tiny bit of liquid to the powdered sugar at a time and then let it absorb completely before adding more. Just keep adding lemon juice until you get the texture you want. For a cake glaze you’d want it pretty thick. I make it so that it will drip slowly down the edges of the cake but not run! After a while it will set up to a nice glaze. For that cookie post I add a bit of corn syrup, but that’s to get that nice smooth mirror finish for cookies. I haven’t tried it with cake glaze!
This recipe is awesome i made it for my brithday and it tasted great!!
Oh my goodness that makes me so happy! Thank you so much for letting me know, and happiest of birthdays to you!🎉🥳
Unfortunately I have made this recipe twice now without success It did not raise at all Very disappointing
Hi Patti! I’m so sorry to hear this, and I would love to help you troubleshoot if you can tell me a bit more about making it? I’ve been making this recipe every couple of months with great success for years now and my family loves it. I really want to help figure out what went wrong if you have time to let me know!
I made it to the recipe and mine fell. My oven temp is right on so not sure what went wrong.
HI Lois, thanks so much for the comment! You’re the second person to have this issue in the last little while so I’m making it a priority to re-test the recipe again this week and will get back to you! I’m so sorry it didn’t work out for you, and I know how frustrating that can be. I’ll be in touch!