This Lemon Drop Cake is just tart enough to almost pucker your lips, and sweet enough to have you scraping every bit of frosting up.

As a food blogger, creating food and post to inspire our readers for special occasions is mandatory. Once again I sit down at my desk with an over-sized mug of tea in my hand wondering how on earth to deal with Mother's Day. As some of you know, my mother passed away when I was younger and I didn't really have a normal parent/child relationship with her. 

Last year, I talked about my mom and dazzled you with out Chocolate Jimmy Sandwiches telling you how awkward a post it was for me. In a year of posts and miles forward in the blog-o-sphere (or at least that's what I tell myself), nothing has changed. I could take the time and anonymity of the internet to make up fluffy posts now with wonderful mother/daughter stories but it just isn't the case.

Cake With white frosting and lemon drop candies on top | Kita Roberts

I am lucky though, to have had several strong women shape my life and help influence me to become the woman I am today. One such woman had to deal with me in my teen years, and I can't put into words how terrible that must have been. My father had been recently divorced, my mom was gone, and here we were living with someone new. I was a teen, annoyed, hurt and bothered. I pulled some ridiculous crap. But whether by choice or just because she was stuck with me, this one woman held on. There is more, lots more, but I am not about dragging you through that on the internet. I am happy she stuck around though, because it's the closest role in my life that I will ever have to a real 'mom'. Someone I call on a regular basis just to chat with, to whine to, or just to see what she is making for dinner. I like to think that's what moms are good for.

She also really happens to like lemons. So without any more behind the scenes info, and before you leave running off to more fluffy posts, check out this cake.

Lemon Drop Cake on a stand with jar of lemon curd |

There is something about the mixture of tart and sweet that really gets me excited. It adds a whole new layer to desserts, and makes them feel much less heavy. Here are a few of my favorite lemony dessert creations!

Limoncello Gelato with Vanilla Lemon Curd Swirl
North Carolina Lemon Pie
Meyer Lemon Pudding Pie

Lemon Drop Cake from above with lemons in a square dish | Kita Roberts

If you’ve tried my Lemon Drop Cake recipe or any other recipe on please don’t forget to rate the recipe and let me know where you found it in the comments below, I love hearing from you! You can also follow along for more good eats and travel tips on Instagram @passthesushi & @girlcarnivoreTwitter Facebook.

📖 Recipe

Lemon Drop Cake

This Lemon Drop cake is just tart enough to almost pucker your lips, and sweet enough to have you scraping every bit of frosting up.
4.80 from 5 votes
Print Pin Rate
Author: Kita Roberts
3 hours 10 minutes
Serves: 1 cake


For the Cake

  • 2 ½ cups cake flour
  • ¾ cup flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup unsalted butter - softened
  • ½ cup shortening
  • 1 ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • grated zest of one lemon
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 ½ cups cold ice water
  • 3 large egg whites - at room temperature
  • ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar

For the Lemon Curd

  • ¾ cups fresh lemon juice - about 6 lemons
  • grated zest of 2 lemons
  • 2 large eggs
  • 7 egg yolks
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 4 tbs butter - at room temperature

For the Frosting

  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • cup flour
  • 1 ½ cups milk
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 1 ½ cups butter - soft but cool, cut into small pieces
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup lemon curd


  • Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Butter 3 8" round cake pans.
  • Line with parchment paper and butter the parchment paper. Dust the cake pans with flour and knock out any excess flour.
  • Whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  • In the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and shortening together, about 4 minutes. Add the sugar, vanilla, and lemon zest. Beat on medium speed until fluffy.
  • Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
  • Add the egg, and beat until just combined. Reduce the speed to low.
  • Add the dry ingredients, alternating with the ice water, in three additions. Scrape down the sides and mix on low to make sure everything was incorporated.
  • In a clean bowl, whisk egg whites and cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Be careful no to over beat.
  • Gently fold the egg whites into the batter.
  • Divide the batter among the prepared pans and smooth the tops.
  • Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through the baking time, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  • Transfer the cakes to a wire rack and cool for 20 minutes before turning out and cooling completely.

Make the Lemon Curd Filling:

  • In a small bowl, pour the lemon juice over the lemon zest and let stand for 10 minutes. In a nonreactive bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg yolks, and sugar until combined.
  • Add the lemon zest and and lemon juice to the egg mixture and whisk until just combined.
  • Place your bowl containing the egg mixture over a double boiler.
  • Continuously stir the mixture with a heatproof spatula until the mixture has thickened to a pudding-like texture.
  • Remove the bowl from the heat and whisk in the butter until emulsified. Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve.
  • Take a sheet of plastic wrap and press it into the mixture and around the bowl so that he curd does not form a skin.
  • Do not refrigerate the curd unless you are saving it for future use.

Make the Lemon Drop Frosting:

  • In a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk the sugar and flour together.
  • Add the milk and cream and cook over medium heat, whisking occasionally, until the mixture comes to a boil and has thickened, about 20 minutes. (At about the 10 minute mark things start to change and thicken a bit. At the 15 minute mark, start really paying attention to prevent burning your frosting).
  • Transfer the mixture to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.
  • Cover with a clean dish towel and beat on high until cool. Reduce the speed to low and add the butter; mix until thoroughly incorporated. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy.
  • Add the vanilla and ½ cup lemon curd and mix until combined. Go on, take a taste test. If the frosting is too soft, refrigerate it until it is the proper consistency. If too firm, place the bowl over a pot of simmering water and beat with a wooden spoon until.

Assemble the cake:

  • Refrigerate the frosting for only a few minutes until it can hold its shape.
  • Place one cake layer on a serving platter and trim the top, if needed, to create a flat surface.
  • Spread about 1 cup of the lemon curd evenly on top. Add the next layer and trim if needed.
  • Add the remaining lemon curd and smooth. Top with the last cake and trim if needed.
  • Crumb coat the cake and refrigerate for about 15 minutes to set.
  • Frost the sides and top of the cake with the frosting.
  • Garnish with lemon drop candies and place in refrigerator for 15 minutes to set.



Serving: 1g | Calories: 946kcal | Carbohydrates: 112g | Protein: 10g | Fat: 53g | Saturated Fat: 30g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 20g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 278mg | Sodium: 664mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 74g

Nutritional informations provided as a courtesy and is only an approximatation. Values will changes based on ingredients used.

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  1. Belinda @zomppa says:

    I love lemons! It's wonderful that you have had such a great figure in your life. Beautiful cake!

  2. Lauren at Keep It Sweet says:

    I love this post, Kita. Role models and mentors can really be as life shaping as parents sometimes. Gorgeous cake.

  3. Katrina @ In Katrina's Kitchen says:

    I'm glad you have an awesome woman in your life. And I'm glad she likes lemons! 😉

  4. Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar says:

    This cake is stunning! Awesome job!

  5. Julie @ Table for Two says:

    aw what a sweet post. i'm glad you can be real and not make up fluffy stuff. i'm sorry for your loss but it seems like you have had great influences in your life. the cake is gorgeous!!

  6. claire @ the realistic nutritionist says:


  7. Blog is the New Black says:

    Lucky you to have the support you do, in whatever form that may be!

  8. Carrie @ Bakeaholic Mama says:

    What a gorgeous cake!! Love anything lemon.

  9. Julia {The Roasted Root} says:

    What a blast from the past! I totally forgot about lemon drops. Your tri layer lemon cake looks awesome. I love thick, dense slices of cake with creamy filling. Beautiful!

  10. Fluff isn't what it's made out to be. I'd take a real post like this (and the cake that goes with it) over fluff any day. Thanks for being you, Kita.

  11. That is a gorgeous cake, and I appreciate your un-fluffed post. I also don't have a typical mother-daughter relationship with my mom. We get along great, she's just never been someone I call for advice, to whine, etc. It seems like many women's mothers are like their best friends and that is a foreign concept to me. But I still love her dearly and appreciate the role she continues to play in my life.

  12. Amy's Cooking Adventures says:

    This cake looks lovely! Any mom (or mother figure) would love it!

  13. I am not hugely into lemons, but my wife sucks on fresh lemons all the time. She'd love this creation! Awesome job decorating it.

  14. Ali @ Gimme Some Oven says:

    This is so adorable! Love the lemon flowers!! 🙂

  15. The Mom Chef ~ Taking on Magazines One Recipe at a Time says:

    This is a really hard day for a lot of people, I know. I'm so, so fortunate that my mom's still around and thoughts like yours help remind me not to take that for granted. Each day she's with me is precious.

    That being said, I'm not real big on fluff, being a 'lay it all out there' kind of person myself. So, thanks for just being who you are too. That's why I read you. 🙂

    The cake looks amazing (thank you for not making something chocolate). I'm going to need lemons. And more eggs. I have to go squeeze some chickens.

  16. Samantha @ Ferraro Kitchen says:

    First...just stop being so talented..just stop, ok? 🙂 The person you made this cake for is going to love it so can she not? I also feel the same way as you do on Fathers day. I cant even go on FB on that day...I just break down!

  17. BinomialBaker says:

    Yum! I just made olive oil lemon cakes and I have been in a lemon-y mood! Thanks for sharing! I am definitely saving this one 🙂

  18. RavieNomNoms says:

    This is gorgeous Kita!

  19. Vicki @ WITK says:

    Not all posts can be light and fluffy, I don't think I could stand that! It's great that you had other great women in your life, sometimes our mother figure isn't our mother at all! I'm sure any lady would enjoy this lemony cake though, I know I would

  20. YUM!!! Love Lemon Drops! This cake looks gorgeous, and the sweet little story behind it was cute 🙂

  21. Rachel @ Baked by Rachel says:

    I'd be completely content with a slice of this!

  22. This is a lovely tribute to a woman who played a special role in your life, Kita. It's as heartwarming as any Mother's Day post...perhaps more so, because the blood relationship isn't there, but the love still is. Gorgeous cake too!

  23. Anita at Hungry Couple says:

    Giving birth isn't the only thing that makes one a mother so I'm glad you had the woman you needed at the time you needed her. I share her love of lemon curd in cakes...big time!

  24. Nami | Just One Cookbook says:

    I read your old post and this one. Life can be complicated and it's hard to follow special day to "celebrate" just like how others do. But it seems like you found happiness and great mother figure. It's a wonderful post to dedicate for her. I really love how you take pictures of this beautiful cake, Kita!

  25. Stephanie says:

    Biological or not, Mother's Day is a day to celebrate any special woman in your life that does just what you described in this post! This cake is beautiful and is the perfect way to show your appreciation!

  26. Tori @ The Shiksa in the Kitchen says:

    Mother figures come in lots of different forms, and I'm pretty sure any mother figure would adore this cake. I'm a stepmom, and I really appreciated this post. Thanks Kita!

  27. This post is so heart worming and the cake.. well its plain gorgeous! I love its simplicity and the lemon drops 🙂

  28. This post is so heart warming and the cake.. well its plain gorgeous! I love its simplicity and the lemon drops 🙂

  29. That cake looks beautiful. I love the lemon drops! I will definitely have to try this out.

  30. Ok - I'm crying now!! I hope you know how very much I LOVE YOU!!!

  31. Roxana GreenGirl { A little bit of everything} says:

    Such a wonderful tribute to the woman, that even if she wasn't your birth Mother, she stood by your side all these years!
    The cake looks fantastic Kita!

  32. What a wonderful tribute to that special woman in your life Kita =) And the cake looks pretty darn good too - you're definitely better at decorating them than I am! Hehe

  33. in the middle of making this cake and it says to cream Butter and SHORTENING, but no shortening is listed in Ingredients. I found the same recipe on another blog, and it lists 1/2 cup of shortening. Hoping this is what you used!

  34. Katie @ OhShineOn says:

    This cake looks absolutely beautiful... I wish I were a better baker and cake-decorater because, if I was, this would be the first thing on my list of things to make!

  35. I love every component of this cake.

  36. This looks SO good! I love lemon cakes, and can't wait to give this one a try 🙂

  37. wow, that looks so good! I love that you used lemon curd too.

  38. Yummy! Love me a lemon cake...and this one is so pretty!
    BTW- how did I not know that you design websites. Hmmm, one of these days when I get a winfall of money. 🙂

  39. nicole @ I am a Honey Bee says:

    lovely post!!

  40. LP @dishclips says:

    Very cute. Looks retro chic, too.

  41. Gloria O'Connor says:

    Your directions say to cream the butter and shortening together, but you did not list shortening in the list of ingredients, so I don't know the quantity of shortening to use to make the cake. I am very interested in making the cake.

  42. Iv never seen a homemade cake recipe using water. Could I use cold milk?

    1. I am not an expert baker and tend to follow the recipes exactly because I always worry I will mess it up. If you use milk - please let me know how it turns out! 🙂

  43. June Burns says:

    Mmm that sounds positively divine! I love lemon drops, so of course this cake would be delicious 🙂

  44. The shortening called for in the instructions is not listed in the ingredients.

  45. Hello, I want to try this recipe for a bake sale at church. Question , Can this cake be left out at room temperature for as few hours? Also Why the ice cold water. I am need to baking cakes.

    1. Hi Deborah. Yes, once the cake is finished, it can sit for serval hours at room temperature. This cake is a behemoth to make! So high fives if you are new to baking cakes for giving it a try. You can make the curd ahead of time and have it ready when you bake the cake. Also, here is another great lemon recipe perfect for bake sales: Triple Lemon Cake Loaf. Also, I found this great link for why temperatures matter when making cakes. I hope this helps!

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