Rachel Cooks

White Cake with Lemon Filling and Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

This recipe came from one of those moments. You know the kind. Spur of the moment visitors, you want to have something delicious to eat, but you really really don’t want to go to the grocery store. Even if it is right next door. So you open the pantry. You open the fridge. You even open the freezer. Time to brainstorm and get creative. I had white cake mix, a block of cream cheese, and 2 lemons. I had pickles, spinach, and ground turkey too, but that wasn’t exactly the direction I wanted to go in. I decided to make white cake with lemon cream cheese frosting. Then as I was browsing my Betty Crocker cookbook (great starter cookbook, by the way, if you’re just learning to cook), I found a recipe for lemon filling. I thought that would be delicious sandwiched between layers of white cake. Turns out, it was.

White Cake with Lemon Filling and Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting


Prepare white cake as directed on box in two round 8 or 9 inch pans. Cool completely on wire rack. You could of course use your favorite recipe for white cake if you wanted to, but as you’ve probably figured out by now, I take shortcuts whenever possible.

Lemon Filling:
(from Betty Crocker)

3/4 cup sugar
3 Tbsp cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
2/3 cup water
1 Tbsp butter
1 tsp lemon zest (save the rest for the frosting)
1/4 cup lemon juice (use fresh squeezed, please)
2 drops yellow food color, if desired

1) In 1.5 quart saucepan, mix sugar, cornstarch and salt. Gradually stir in water. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and boils. Boil and stir 1 minute, remove from heat.
2) Stir in butter and lemon zest until butter is melted. Gradually stir in lemon juice and food color. Press plastic wrap on filling to prevent a tough layer from forming on top. Refrigerate about 2 hours or until set (mine only took 1 hour).

Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting
(adapted from Betty Crocker)

1 pkg (8oz) cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter, softened
2 to 3 tsp milk
1 tsp vanilla
4 cups powdered sugar
2 tsp lemon zest

1) In medium bowl, beat cream cheese, butter, milk and vanilla with electric mixer on low speed until smooth.
2) Gradually beat in powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, on low speed until smooth and spreadable.
3) Fold in lemon zest until evenly distributed.

Assembling Cake

1) Slice off very top of each layer of cake to create a flat surface (not mandatory, but helpful)
2) Place bottom layer on cake stand. Tuck pieces of wax paper under cake so that you can remove after frosting and have a neat cake stand when finished (again, not necessary, but helpful).
3) Spread lemon filling on top of bottom layer. Do not go all the way to the edge (leave ~1/4 of an inch).
4) Place 2nd layer on top of first (I like to do it upside down so the top of the cake has crisp edges). Frost entire cake with cream cheese frosting.
5) Store in fridge!

Verdict: I’m pretty sure I could live on this cake. Luckily we had a lot of company so I wasn’t tempted to actually try out that hypothesis. The tangy lemon filling was a perfect contrast to the sweet frosting. So yummy. However, I must confess that you could probably put cream cheese frosting on cardboard and I would still devour it.
Husband’s take: He liked it, but prefers white cake with chocolate frosting. Easy to please, he likes things simple and traditional. He gets white cake and chocolate frosting on his birthday. The rest of the time, I get to experiment!
Changes I would make: None.
Difficulty: Fairly easy. Three things that will make your life easier. 1) Zest lemons before slicing and squeezing out juice. 2) Take out cream cheese and butter when you make the cake so it will be nice and soft when you are ready to make the frosting. 3) Make filling before you make the cake (or while it is baking) so it has plenty of time to chill.
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4 Responses to “White Cake with Lemon Filling and Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting”

  1. Nelle — May 23, 2013 at 8:30 pm

    Going to make this for my mom’s bday on Sat. Thanks for the recipe!

    • Rachel Gurk — May 23rd, 2013 @ 9:40 pm

      Great! Enjoy!

  2. Cortnee Phifer — April 7, 2014 at 10:07 pm

    Thank you so much for this recipe! I made this for my husband’s birthday, per his request for a lemon filled cake and it was awesome! I love that it is semi-homemade. I was a little lazier and bought a container of cream cheese frosting and added some lemon zest to it! Thanks!


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