Lemon Cake Recipe made in a small 6" round cake pan. This mini lemon layer cake for two is perfect for Spring. Complete with an easy lemon curd filling, and fluffy whipped cream frosting to make it ethereal!
I'm updating this post from 2010, guys! It's been 9 years, and I still make this pretty little lemon layer cake every Spring! The tangy lemon cake and fluffy whipped cream frosting recipe stayed the same, but we're going to substitute my new recipe for Microwave Lemon Curd for the filling to streamline it a bit! I hope you love this cake as much as we still do, 9 years later!
I can hardly believe it, but Dessert For Two turns 1 year old today! I'm going to try to not get all sappy on you here, but I just want you to know that you mean the world to me. Thank you so much for reading and making my recipes; every email and comment absolutely makes my day. I'm so grateful to be a part of this food blogging community. The fellow bloggers that I have met at food blogging conferences this year have been the sweetest, most genuine people I have ever met in my life. Our community is all about supporting each other and sharing delicious recipes. There is no greater goal in life, if you ask me. I want to celebrate with something special.
Call me crazy, but I think taste buds are genetic. I'm positive I possess my grandmother's taste buds. I also inherited her sharp tongue, sass, and enough self-confidence to go around the world a few times, but that's a story for another day. My grandmother loved lemon desserts, and they are truly my favorite, too. I created this cake to celebrate our love of lemon. That's no ordinary cake frosting there, y'all. That's fresh whipped cream. It is the best flavor match for lemon I've ever tasted. Give it a try!
Lemon cake from scratch
The flavors of fresh lemon can never be boxed or processed. Lemon cake mix tastes like a unique combination of stale lemons and window cleaner. You feel me on that one? If you're a true lemon lover, you need to make your lemon desserts with fresh lemons and freshly grated lemon zest! The punch and pucker of fresh lemon can't be beat!
For this cake, I use lemon zest and lemon zest in the actual cake, and then pack the center of the cake with my microwave lemon curd recipe. So easy to do, and it provides so much flavor to the cake!
I leave the whipped cream frosting plain, but if you want to amp up the lemon flavor, a little lemon zest in the frosting would be great!
Super moist lemon cake recipe
Since the cake is made with butter (the best thing to use for flavor), if you refrigerate it too long, it will slightly firm up. This is just what butter does when it's cold; make it as close to serving as possible, or let it rest on the counter for 15 minutes before serving. The whipped cream frosting, provided it covers all sides of the cake, will prevent this for the most part.
However, if you store the cake for longer than a day, you might want to think about making a lemon syrup to drizzle over the layers before stacking the cakes. To do this, combine the juice of 1 lemon (about 3 tablespoons) with 3 tablespoons of sugar. Melt this together in a small sauce pan, and remove from the heat when the sugar is fully dissolved. Let it cool, and then stir in the zest of 1 lemon.
As you slice your cake and prepare to layer it with lemon curd and frost it, brush the lemon syrup over each layer of the cake. This lemon drizzle soak will keep your cake moist for longer, and it provides even more puckery lemon flavor!
How to make a small layer cake for two
For this small cake for two people, I use a 6" round cake pan. It's typically the size of the top layer of a wedding cake, but for a smaller serving, it's our only cake layer! Here's the exact 6 x 2" cake pan that I use and love. I really recommend this cake pan, because the sides are only 2 inches tall. I've seen some 6 x 3" cake pans, and in my experience, the extra inch of pan causes excess heat on the cake and can make it sink.
This recipe uses just one cake, sliced in two, to make a layer cake, but I've successfully doubled the recipe to make a slightly larger lemon cake recipe. In this case, you would need to double your lemon curd recipe, too.
We've got to talk about the pièce de résistance of this cake: the whipped cream frosting! While buttercream or cream cheese frosting are expected for a lemon cake, light and fluffy whipped cream is such a welcome change! Whipped cream smooths over cake layers so easily, and is the perfect compliment to tangy lemon. Plus, there's something so light about it that you'll convince yourself than an extra slice of cake or two is no big deal, heh.
If you make this cake for a Spring celebration or birthday, I would love to hear about it! If you have any questions, leave them in the comment section below, and I'll get back to you.
Lemon Cake Recipe
Small lemon cake recipe with easy lemon curd filling.
For the lemon cake recipe:
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 lemon, zested and juiced
- 1 large egg
- ¾ cup flour
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ cup buttermilk
For the microwave lemon curd:
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg
- ⅓ cup freshly-squeezed lemon juice
- zest of 1 lemon (~1 teaspoon)
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- pinch of salt
For the frosting:
- ¾ cup heavy whipping cream
- ¼ cup powdered sugar
- Preheat the oven to 350° and grease a 6” round cake pan.
- In a medium bowl, beat together with an electric mixer the butter, sugar, and lemon zest. Beat very well, about 1-2 minutes.
- Add the egg and beat until well combined, about 15 seconds.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and baking soda. Add half of this to the batter and beat lightly.
- Stir in half of the buttermilk and continue beating. Add the remaining dry ingredients and beat, then stir in the remaining buttermilk and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice.
- Scrap the batter into the pan, smoothing the top and bake for 37-39 minutes, until a skewer inserted comes out clean.
- Let cool on a wire rack in the pan. Carefully remove the cake from the pan once it has cooled and set aside.
- Meanwhile, make the lemon curd: In a microwave-safe bowl, whisk together all of the ingredients very well. Microwave on HIGH for 1 minute. Stop, stir, and then microwave another minute. Stir the lemon curd after 2 minutes, and then place it back in the microwave for a final 30 seconds. After 2 minutes and 30 seconds, begin testing the lemon curd by quickly dipping a spoon into it, and running your finger through it. If the line holds, the lemon curd is done. If the curd runs and fills the line you just made, try another 30 seconds in the microwave and test again. The curd will thicken considerably as it cools.
- Strain the curd through a fine-mesh strainer into a small bowl, and set aside.
- When ready to assemble, slice the cake in half horizontally. Do this on a flat surface and cut slowly to ensure both cake layers are even. Flip the cake layers over so that the bottom is now the top so that you have a flat surface to frost the cake.
- Place one half of the cake on a cake stand or desired serving plate. Top with the lemon curd. Spread it almost to the edge.
- Top with the remaining cake layer. In a medium bowl, beat the heavy cream and powdered sugar together until whipped and slightly stiff—do not over-beat. Frost the cake with this mixture. Slice and serve.
- If you're not serving immediately, refrigerate the cake, but then let it sit at room temp for about 15 minutes before serving.
*This cake is made with butter, so the surface can be a bit firm when chilled. Let it rest at room temperature before serving for the softest cake.
**You can make a lemon syrup to drench the cake layers with to keep the cake softer: combine the juice of 1 lemon (about 3 tablespoons) with the same amount of sugar. Bring to a simmer over medium heat to dissolve the sugar. Let cool, and then stir in the zest from the lemon. Brush this over both cake layers before assembling and serving.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 470Total Fat: 30gSaturated Fat: 18gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 142mgSodium: 174mgCarbohydrates: 48gFiber: 1gSugar: 34gProtein: 5g
Planning to make it for my husband's birthday as a "dessert for two" 🙂
I have had trouble working with whipped cream frosting before as it starts melting and sliding off when I frost with it. Do you have any tips?
Christina Lane says
Yes, make sure the cake is completely cooled. Store the whipped cream in the fridge until right before you frost the cake. Serve the cake immediately after frosting. The cake can be frosted and store in the fridge until serving, too.
This lemon cake is delicious and a big hit for my daughter’s birthday! Just took longer in microwave for the curd to thicken, but it ended up just right and gave the cake a hit of lemon which was perfect. Made cream cheese frosting recipe from your banana sheet cake and it generously covered the entire cake. Served 6 with small perfect slices of lemon yumminess. Thank you, Christina, and I always have good results with your recipes!
Can I make the lemon curd on the stove instead of microwave?
How wou you adjust the lemon 6" cake gorgeous high elevation?
Could you use a 5x2 pan for this cake?
Christina Lane says
That's one inch smaller than the pan I tested the recipe with many, many times. It might overflow. Best of luck.
For the lemon syrup, you don't say what type of sugar is best.
Christina Lane says