Bready or Not: Lemon Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Posted by on Apr 27, 2022 in Blog, Bready or Not, cake, cheese galore, lemon | Comments Off on Bready or Not: Lemon Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

This Lemon Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting isn’t fancy. It’s a 9×13 cake cut in half and stacked. It has curves and straight edges. It also tastes amazing.

Bready or Not: Lemon Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

This is also an ideal cake for lemon-lovers. Two lemons are zested and juiced, their flavor infusing both the batter and frosting.

Bready or Not: Lemon Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

The cream cheese frosting here is an absolute classic, too. This is a recipe where you definitely want to lick the beaters and the bowl afterward!

Bready or Not: Lemon Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

I actually debated whether or not to post the cake on Bready or Not because it is so basic. After a lot of thought, though, I realized that simplicity is one of the perks.

Bready or Not: Lemon Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

It may not win awards for looks, sure. But does it taste good? YES.

Bready or Not: Lemon Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Modified from Food & Wine Magazine January 2021.

Bready or Not: Lemon Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

This cake is rustic and simple–a 9×13 cake, cut in half and stacked–with cream cheese frosting through the middle and all around the sides. There’s lemon juice and zest flavoring it throughout, making this an ideal treat for lemon-lovers. Modified from Food & Wine Magazine January 2021.
Course: Dessert
Keyword: cake, cream cheese, lemon
Author: Beth Cato


  • 9×13 pan
  • uneven spatula
  • cooling rack
  • chopstick or skewer
  • hand mixer
  • parchment paper


Lemon Cake

  • 1 3/4 cups white sugar
  • 2 large lemons zested and juiced, to use for cake and frosting
  • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 large eggs room temperature
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3 Tablespoons honey

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 8 ounces cream cheese (1 box) softened
  • pinch fine sea salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter (half stick) softened
  • 3 cups confectioners’ sugar


Make the lemon cake

  • Preheat oven at 350-degrees. Line a 9×13 pan with foil and apply nonstick spray.
  • Mix together the white sugar and 1 Tablespoon of the lemon zest; reserve remaining zest for the frosting. Using fingertips, for about a minute rub zest into sugar to deploy the inherent oils. Whisk in the olive oil followed by the eggs. Add the milk, vanilla, and salt. Keep beating until the sugar is dissolved.
  • Beat in the flour and baking powder until just combined, making sure to scrape the bottom of the bowl. Pour batter into the cake pan.
  • Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the middle passes the toothpick test. Let cake cool in pan about 10 minutes. In a small bowl, whisk together the honey and 3 Tablespoons of the lemon juice until smooth.
  • Invert the cake onto a large cooling rack. Stab cake all over with chopstick or skewer. Set a cookie sheet beneath the rack. Drizzle or brush the honey-lemon mix all over the cake. Let cool for about an hour.


  • Combine cream cheese, salt, the rest of the lemon zest, and a Tablespoon of lemon juice; use rest of juice otherwise. With a hand mixer, beat on medium-high until smooth, about 30 seconds. Add the butter and beat until pale and fluffy, about a minute.
  • Reduce the speed and gradually add the confectioners’ sugar. Once it’s all in, increase the speed to high and beat until fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  • Transfer the cake to a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet. Use an uneven spatula to spread 1 1/2 cups frosting all over the top of the cake. Place cake in fridge to chill for 15-30 minutes. Once frosting has hardened. Slice in half crosswise and stack the halves. Spread the remaining frosting on the top and sides of cake, getting all of the odd angles, nooks, and crannies.
  • Refrigerate cake, uncovered, at least 30 minutes before serving. For longer than that, cover with plastic wrap; it’ll keep well in the fridge for up to 3 days, and can also be frozen in individual slices. Serve cake right from fridge.