This traditional Italian lemon cake recipe reminds me of Italy in the summer. Not being big dessert fans, we tend to focus on light, soft, and fruity desserts. This Italian lemon pound cake fits all of those characteristics. It’s sweet and sour, flavored with lemon zest and sprinkled with powdered sugar.
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What Is An Italian Lemon Cake
There are probably about a thousand different Italian cakes. Italy is a regional cuisine and what is served in the North is not often seen in the south, or in Sardinia or Sicily. There are probably a dozen or more different types of Italian lemon cakes as well, depending on where in Italy you are eating this cake.
There are Sicilian lemon cakes and Amalfi lemon cakes, each made with specific types of lemons grown in that region. Some of these Italian cakes are made with a combination of lemon and ricotta or buttermilk. Ricotta can make this a moist lemon cake. But, I prefer buttermilk, which adds both a creaminess and a bit of sourness that complements the sourness of the lemons.
This Italian lemon cake is a bit of a hybrid, and not one specific to Sicily, or Amalfi, or any other Italian region. It’s just one that is reminiscent of the types of sweet and sour cakes we’ve eaten over the years of traveling in Italy. And, it’s one that is easy to make at home.
Italian lemon pound cake is moist and soft. The aroma of lemon is very delicate and pleasant. And also, a slight sourness is felt in the cake, which goes well with sweetness. This cake doesn’t turn out to be sugary, even with lemon frosting. The taste is balanced. Be sure to use lemon zest for that strong and pleasant lemon flavor.
Learn more about some of the best Italian dessert recipes.
Ingredients For This Easy Lemon Cake Recipe
This simple lemon cake starts with dry ingredients including wheat flour, baking powder, and salt.
Although it’s possible to make a lemon cake without butter, this recipe has a base made with unsalted butter and buttermilk, along with lemon zest, freshly squeezed lemon juice, and eggs. The combination of unsalted butter and buttermilk is what makes a soft lemon cake, one that melts in the mouth!
How To Make This Italian Lemon Cake Recipe
Preheat the oven to 350F.
This quick lemon cake is no fuss and easy-to-make. First, choose a deep mixing bowl that is deep enough to use a hand mixer to knead the dough.
Sift the flour. Add it to the bowl along with the salt and baking powder. Stir the dry ingredients to blend. Sifting the flour will make it more fluffy.
In a separate bowl, add the unsalted butter and sugar. Beat with a hand mixer. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing them into the sugar and butter mix with the hand mixer.
Fold the butter and sugar mix into the bowl of dry ingredients. Stir with a rubber spatula or the hand mixer. Add in the lemon zest and lemon juice until the flour is well-blended and there are no lumps.
Baking The Lemon Cake
You can use any type of bundt cake mold. If using one that is metal, glass, or ceramic, grease the mold with a light coating of oil, spread with a paper towel, and then sprinkle flour over the oil. This will prevent the cake from sticking to the mold. If you use a silicone mold, there is no need to oil the pan.
Transfer the cake batter to the mold. Once finished, tap the mold a few times on the countertop to eliminate excess air holes in the cake batter.
Place the cake in a hot oven and bake at 350 F for 45 to 55 minutes. Check the readiness of the cake with a wooden toothpick – it should be dry at the exit.
Wait for the cake to cool a bit and sprinkle it with powdered sugar. Cut into pieces and serve with tea or coffee.
Authentic Italian Cake Recipe
- 2 cups plain wheat flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 2 tablespoons lemon zest
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1/4 pound unsalted butter, softened (1 stick)
- 3 large eggs
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice (for glaze)
- 1 cup powdered sugar (for glaze)
- Preheat the oven to 350F
- In a large mixing bowl, add the flour, salt, and baking powder. Mix well with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon.
- Put the softened butter and sugar in a medium-sized bowl and use a hand mixer to blend. Add the eggs one at a time and continue to mix until blended.
- Add the sugar and butter mixture to the bowl with the flour. Blend with a wooden spoon or hand mixer until blended. Add the lemon zest and lemon juice with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula until blended. All the flour should be blended well and the dough will be thick.
- Transfer the dough to a silicone mold and flatten the dough so it's even. Tap the mold on the table a few times to remove any air bubbles.
- Bake in the oven for 45-55 minutes. It is ready when the top is lightly browned. Place a toothpick in to check if it is ready. If the toothpick comes out clean it is finished.
- Let the cake cool slightly in the mold before removing, at least 20-25 minutes.
- After the cake is removed, place it on a serving platter or dish.
- Whisk the lemon juice and powdered sugar to create a glaze and drizzle over the cake just before serving. If you want to skip the glaze, you can also just sprinkle the top with powdered sugar.
If you don't have a silicone mold, you can use a metal, ceramic, or glass dish for baking. Be sure to grease the pan with oil and sprinkle it with flour.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 310Total Fat: 14gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 101mgSodium: 216mgCarbohydrates: 40gFiber: 1gSugar: 15gProtein: 7g
This nutritional data is provided by a third-party source and should not be relied on if you are on a strict diet.
Serving A Basic Lemon Cake Recipe
We are not fans of super-sweet desserts. That’s why I like this lemon cake recipe, simply sprinkled with powdered sugar. It’s a no-icing lemon cake, which is perfect for us. You can also use powdered sugar or confectioners sugar to make a sweet glaze to drizzle on top. The glaze can be made with warm lemon zest and powdered sugar.
You can also add a touch of lemon peel to bring some color to the cake when serving. To give the lemon cake even more flavor, add a tablespoon of lemon extract.