This lemon snack cake really is the best. Loaded with the zesty flavor of lemon and vanilla, it is a bright and vibrant cake that makes a fun addition to any lunchbox. Stores well in an airtight container for the week ahead, and can be jazzed up with sprinkles (affiliate link) for special occasions or as a colorful treat to brighten up your lunchbox. Perfect for lemon lovers.
Before jumping to the recipe please note that the below information contains HOT TIPS for this recipe. We try and answer all your questions to guarantee a perfect lunchbox recipe every time.
Love having a little something sweet in your lunchbox to get you through the afternoon slump? Make a batch of these Vanilla Greek Yogurt Muffins With Pancake Mix and have them on hand to grab and go in the morning.
🍋 Best Lemon Snack Cake Recipe
This really is the best lemon snack cake recipe with a simple lemon glaze!
This simple recipe comes together quickly and packs well in lunchboxes for a quick and easy treat that is bound to brighten your mood with its zesty flavor and fun colorful sprinkles (affiliate link).
I love making this snacking cake at the beginning of the week and cutting it into small squares for a little hit of something sweet in the afternoons. It also freezes well, so I tend to make a double batch and freeze little squares that can be pulled from the freezer in the morning.
It can be wrapped in plastic wrap or stored in an airtight container.
🧂 Ingredients You Need
This lemon snacking cake comes together so easily and uses only a handful of simple ingredients you will likely have on hand.
You will need:
- cake flour: this is different from plain flour and can be found in most well stocked grocery stores. You can sub in plain flour if that is all you have, just reduce the amount of flour used (see notes on the recipe card for exact amounts)
- baking powder
- lemon zest: you will need the lemon zest from one whole lemon for this cake
- unsalted butter: this will need to be left out at room temperature for a bit so that it is softened. Alternatively, you can pop it into the microwave for a bit to soften it up that way. If you only have salted butter then leave out the salt listed in the recipe card
- granulated sugar: we used plain white sugar for this recipe, but another white granulated sugar of choice would also work, such as granulated stevia
- eggs: we used large eggs for this recipe
- vanilla extract: this can be found in the baking section of grocery stores and should not be confused with vanilla essence
- sour cream: this pairs perfectly with the lemon juice and lemon zest used in this cake, and gives it the signature tang we are looking for
- lemon juice: fresh lemon juice from a fresh lemon is preferred, however, bottled lemon juice can be used if that is what you have
- powdered sugar: don't miss the step of sifting the powdered sugar before using it or you will end up with lumps in your cake icing
- heavy whipping cream: alternatively you can use a bit of milk instead;
- colorful sprinkles (affiliate link): these are completely optional but add a fun pop of color to the lemon cake
📋 How To Make Lemon Snack Cake
This cake comes together so easily, however, I have a few tips and tricks to make sure you end up with the best lemon cake!
Be sure to preheat the oven before starting to assemble the cake and spray a nonstick baking pan with cooking spray or brush with light olive oil or melted butter to prevent the cake from sticking to the pan.
Mix all of the dry ingredients together in a medium bowl until well combined.
Use an electric stand mixer to cream together the butter and sugar. This can be done by hand in a pinch, but you will end up with a much lighter and fluffier cake if you use an electric stand mixer so it is definitely preferable.
You want the cream and sugar to be super light and fluffy before adding in the eggs one at a time, followed by the vanilla extract, sour cream, lemon zest, and lemon juice, and mix on low speed until everything is well combined.
Once all of the wet ingredients are well combined, add in the dry mixture and mix until everything comes together. Do not overmix or the cake will not be as light as we want.
Using a rubber spatula, spoon batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 25 minutes, or until it is cooked through. Insert a toothpick into the cake to check for doneness. If the toothpick comes out clean, with no wet batter on it, then the cake is ready.
Allow the cake to cool for about 5 minutes in the cake pan before removing and placing it onto a wire rack to cool for about 20 minutes. It is important to let the cake cool completely before adding the icing or it will simply melt and slide off the side of the cake.
As the cake cools make the lemon icing by whisking together the sifted powdered sugar, lemon juice, and heavy whipping cream until you have a smooth consistency.
If you would like a thicker icing keep adding more powdered sugar. If the icing is too thick, add more lemon juice or heavy whipping cream to thin it out.
Spread the icing on top of the lemon cake and sprinkle with your favorite colorful sprinkles (affiliate link).
You should end up with a pale yellow cake with a moist crumb. Cut it into little squares appropriate for snacking and serve immediately or store it in an airtight container until needed.
💭 Important Teaching Tips
You will want to have room temperature ingredients for this cake to work well.
Baking time can vary between ovens, so start checking on the cake at around the 20 minute mark to make sure it is not burning. Use a skewer to test for doneness by inserting it into the cake. If it comes out clean the cake is ready, if it comes out with lemon cake batter on it then it will need a couple more minutes.
It is important to let the cake cool completely before adding the lemon icing otherwise it will simply melt and slide off the cake.
What is cake flour?
Cake flour is a lower-in-protein flour that can be found in most well stocked grocery stores. It is better for making cakes than plain flour as it leads to a lighter and fluffier texture in the cake.
If you can not find cake flour you can use plain flour, but please note the cake will be a bit denser, and not as light and fluffy as we are aiming for with this recipe.
You will need to adjust the amount of flour needed to 2 ¼ cups of all-purpose flour instead of 2 ½ cups as the recipe states.
What is the scoop and level method of measuring flour?
The scoop and level method is the process you will use to accurately measure your cake flour. Take a spoon and scoop the flour into a dry measuring cup, and then using the back of a knife scrape the top to level it.
🥢 Useful Products
🍭 The perfect sprinkles for this lemon cake
You will also need a stand mixer like this kitchen aid mixer, and a 8 x 8 baking pan (affiliate link).
🍽 Serving Suggestions
Let the lemon icing harden slightly before cutting the cake into squares and serving as is.
I find that one of the best ways to serve lemon snack cake is with a nice big glass of milk or a cup of tea.
If you are packing it into a lunchbox I like to pack some apple slices, salted cashews, and a nice light salad like this Bacon Ranch Chicken Salad with a handful of lettuce leaves to be used as wraps.
👪 Frequently Asked Questions
Along with other typical baking ingredients like flour, eggs, and sugar we also add lots of fresh lemon juice and lemon zest to this cake to give it that real lemon zing. A lemon icing is added to the top to add even more lemon flavor.
We use a simple homemade frosting consisting of powdered sugar, lemon juice, and heavy whipping cream.
If you loved this easy recipe then be sure to leave a star rating on the recipe card or comment underneath the recipe card.
Best Lemon Snack Cake Recipe
- 2 ½ cups cake flour (see notes for measuring)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- ½ cup unsalted butter at room temperature or softened
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup sour cream
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- colorful sprinkles (optional)
- 1 cup powdered sugar sifted
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon heavy whipping cream
- Preheat the oven to 350F (175C) and spray an 8x8 inch pan with nonstick baking spray.
- In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the cake flour, baking powder, salt, and lemon zest. Set aside.2 ½ cups cake flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, ½ teaspoon salt, 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. This should take about 3 minutes.½ cup unsalted butter, ¾ cup granulated sugar
- Add in the eggs one at a time, followed by the vanilla extract, sour cream, and lemon juice. Mix until everything is combined.2 large eggs, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, ½ cup sour cream, 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- Gently add the flour mixture into the wet mixture and mix until just combined.
- Pour the lemon batter into the prepared 8x8 pan, using a silicone spatula to scoop the batter from the bowl.
- Bake for about 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove the cake from the oven and let it cool in the baking pan for about 5 minutes, before moving it to a cooling rack and allowing it to cool completely, this should take about 20 to 30 minutes.
- Add the powdered sugar, lemon juice, and heavy whipping cream to a medium-sized bowl and whisk until smooth. If you would like a thicker icing keep adding more powdered sugar. If the icing is too thick, add more lemon juice or heavy whipping cream to thin it out.1 cup powdered sugar, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1 tablespoon heavy whipping cream
- Use a spatula to spread the icing on top of the lemon cake and sprinkle with your favorite colorful sprinkles or fresh berries. Serve immediately.colorful sprinkles
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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