Photo: Raymond Hom; Styling: Pamela Duncan Silver
Hands-on Time
35 Mins
Total Time
1 Hour 30 Mins
Serves 16 (serving size: 1 slice)

Most "Pinned" dessert ever--improved.

Lemonade Layer Cake, developed by Ann Taylor Pittman as a recipe makeover, has been loved by readers since it debuted in April 2002. When we retested it for this story, we felt we could make big improvements in the texture and flavor. Instead of using a lemonade product, we've made a concentrated fresh lemonade syrup that adds zippy citrus hits to the more-tender cake.

How to Make It

Step 1

Preheat oven to 350°.

Step 2

To prepare cake, lightly coat 2 (8-inch) round metal cake pans with baking spray; line bottoms of pans with wax paper. Coat wax paper with baking spray.

Step 3

Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Combine buttermilk and low-fat milk. Combine 1 cup granulated sugar, butter, and oil in a large bowl; beat with mixer at medium speed 3 minutes or until light and fluffy. Add egg yolks, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in 1 tablespoon rind. Add flour mixture and milk mixture alternately to butter mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture and beating just until combined.

Step 4

Place 3 egg whites and cream of tartar in a medium bowl; beat with a mixer at high speed until medium peaks form, using clean, dry beaters. Gently fold egg white mixture into batter. Divide batter evenly between prepared pans. Bake at 350° for 25 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 minutes on wire racks. Loosen edges with a knife, and invert cake layers onto racks. Carefully remove wax paper, and discard.

Step 5

To prepare lemonade syrup, while cake layers bake, combine 1/4 cup granulated sugar and next 3 ingredients (through 1 tablespoon water) in a 1-cup glass measure. Microwave at HIGH 45 seconds or until mixture boils; stir until sugar dissolves. Cool slightly. Pierce warm cake layers liberally with a wooden pick. Brush syrup over warm cake layers until all of syrup is absorbed. Cool completely.

Step 6

To prepare frosting, place chilled cream cheese, 2 teaspoons rind, and 1 teaspoon juice in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well combined. Gradually add powdered sugar; beat at low speed just until blended (do not overbeat). Place 1 cake layer on a plate, and spread half of frosting over top. Top with remaining cake layer. Spread remaining frosting over top of cake. Store cake, loosely covered, in refrigerator.

Ratings & Reviews

Hoolers's Review

October 12, 2013
This cake was soooo good. It was time consuming w whipping the egg whites and folding them in the batter and then making the lemonade syrup, poking holes and brushing it on, but it was well worth it. Best cake I've ever had/made and husband really enjoyed it. Will make again, for a special occasion. The icing didn't come out lumpy at all, I did have to really keep mixing it though and then it came together and became smooth.

kstuart623's Review

October 03, 2013

Carisa58's Review

October 02, 2013
I made this cake for a party last weekend and got rave reviews. Everybody loved it and it was all gone in no time at all, so much so that my husband never even got a taste! I had no problems with the frosting, it was not lumpy at all, it was beautiful. I did however make more of it, adding 50% to the recipe because I wanted to cover the whole cake. I then pressed fresh lemon slices onto the frosting on the side of the cake as decoration (and to hint at the flavor..). Next time, I would actually double the amount of frosting, I thought it could have done with a little more in between the two layers. If you decide to do the same, be advised though that the cake needs to be kept cold until serving, as the frosting will soften quite a lot once out of the cold.

eamoss's Review

September 22, 2013
The taste is fantastic--I just wish the frosting didn't turn out lumpy. It still tastes great, but visually it's not as appealing...

ChristyL2's Review

September 15, 2013
Lemonade cake sounded just delicious - and I liked that this recipe used all fresh lemon for flavor rather than anything processed. I'm not much of a baker, so I followed the recipe VERY carefully so I could bring something nice for a friend's birthday. It turned out great - light and tender with nice fresh lemon flavor, held together with a yummy creamy frosting. I got many compliments and the lemon was a welcome change from a lot of chocolate desserts.