This Lemon Sponge Cake is light, airy, and only takes 40 minutes to make. The lemon sponge is made with just 4 simple ingredients and between the layers you can find homemade whipped cream and a creamy lemon curd. This lemon sponge cake recipe is very similar to an angel food cake. There’s a high volume of eggs that are whipped with sugar and lemon, and then just a little flour is added to hold it together. The result, then, is an airy cake complemented by the rich lemon curd and fluffy whipped cream stacked between the layers.
Before getting started, we are going to use homemade lemon curd to make to make this lemon cake recipe. I like making a big batch if I know I will be making a lemon tart or want to fill cupcakes. This way, you don’t have to make both in the same day. Lemon curd is easy to make and far superior to the jarred varieties in the grocery store.
If you like citrus flavored cakes don’t miss this lemon cake mix recipe bundt cake or my fluffy lemon chiffon cake. Unlike this recipe, chiffon cakes are made in an angel food cake pan but still have the texture of an airy sponge cake.
- large eggs – bring to room temperature before using.
- granulated sugar
- lemon extract or 4-5 drops of lemon oil – adds more flavor without having to add fresh lemon juice.
- all-purpose flour – you will need 1 cup sifted! Be sure to measure the flour correctly.
- Lemon zest
- heavy cream and powdered sugar – to make homemade whipped cream
- lemon curd – I made creamy lemon curd from scratch (all you need are a couple of ingredients) but you can also find it on the jelly aisle at the grocery store.
For a full list of ingredients and their measurements, 📋 please view my printable recipe card at the bottom of the post.
Garnish this easy lemon cake with a lemon peel, lemon slices, or fresh fruits.
Substitutions and Variations
- Frosting Ideas – we like the simple filling and leaving the cake “naked”, however, you can also cover it with a cream cheese frosting or a lemon buttercream. The cake is very light, though, so heavier frostings may overpower it.
- Cool Whip – use store bought whipped topping for the filling if you don’t want to make homemade whipped cream.
- Fresh strawberries – berries go great with the lemon flavor and the lightness of the cake crumb. You can slice these to garnish on top, or add them on top of the curd in the filling.
PREP: Grease and flour two 8-inch round cake pans and line the bottom with parchment paper if desired. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
Step 1: In a large bowl, beat the eggs, sugar, and lemon extract for 5 minutes with a hand mixer. until the mixture is pale yellow and thick.
Step 2: Mix in the lemon zest.
Step 3: Fold in the flour a ½ cup at a time into the egg mixture using a rubber spatula.
Step 4: Pour the cake batter into the pans evenly.
Pro Tip: Room temperature eggs will whip up with greater volume than cold eggs. Place the eggs in a bowl or cup with warm water to quickly bring them to room temperature.
Step 5: In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer (or a stand mixer) to beat the whipping cream until soft peaks form. Add the powdered sugar, and continue mixing until stiff peaks form.
Step 6: Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow the cake layers to cool completely on a wire rack.
Step 7: Place the first layer on a tray or platter. Add a layer of lemon curd, and a layer of whipped cream. Add the second layer on top and spread the lemon curd to cover to the edges. Pipe swirls of whipped cream or spread a thin layer on top.
SERVE: Garnish with lemon zest and serve!
- The key for getting volume in the cake is by whipping the eggs and sugar together because we aren’t using any other leavening agents. You will see that the egg and sugar mixture triples in size. We love using a stand mixer for this recipe.
- The curd and whipped cream is an easy way to add more flavor and depth to an otherwise simple and “naked” cake.
- If you want more of an American cake texture, I recommend lemon curd cake or lemon layer cake.
- Since this cake has an angel food cake texture, you may want to slice it with a specialty angel food cake cutter (affil) or use short gentle strokes with a serrated knife.
The first sponge cake dates all the way back to the 1700s! -Cakere
Sponge cakes are made without vegetable oil and butter. They do not contain any fat except for eggs and resemble the texture of angel food cake.
Keep the cake covered lightly or in an airtight container for 5 days.
If you tried this Lemon Sponge Cake Recipe or any other recipe on my website, please please leave a 🌟 star rating and let me know how you liked it in the 📝 comments below.
Lemon Sponge Cake
- 5 large eggs room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon lemon extract or 4-5 drops of lemon oil
- 1 cup sifted all-purpose flour
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 1 cup heavy cream
- ¼ cup powdered sugar
- 1-2 cups lemon curd
- Preheat the oven to 325°F. Grease and flour two 8” cake pans and set aside (you can also line the bottoms with parchment paper.)
- In the bowl of a standing mixer, beat together eggs, sugar, and lemon extract/oil for 5 minutes, until the mixture is thick and pale yellow.
- Mix in lemon zest.
- Use a spatula to gently fold the flour, ½ cup at a time, into the egg mixture.
- Transfer the batter, divided evenly between the two prepared pans.
- Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool completely.
- Just before assembling, whip the heavy cream until soft peaks form. Add the powdered sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form – do not overbeat or the whipped cream will turn to butter.
- Assemble the cake by setting out the first layer of cake. Top with a layer of lemon curd and a layer of whipped cream. Place the second layer on top of the filling. Add another layer of lemon curd and swirls of whipped cream or simply a layer of whipped cream.