This gluten-free lemon layer cake uses three naturally gluten-free flours to create a velvety crumb that's balanced by lots of bright lemon zest. Layer it with sweet strawberry jam and vanilla buttercream for a super special cake.
Oooh, sometimes you make a cake and it is just perfect. A lemon cake is one of my favorites to put together (I am working on adapting my favorite, simple lemon yogurt cake to be gluten-free) and it is just right for spring. This recipe for the loveliest of lemon layer cakes that I'm sharing today is one of those "perfect cakes."
This particular lemon-kissed cake would would be a wonderful ending to any holiday meal, or as a dessert for any spring gathering. Just three gluten-free flours in combination create a velvety texture that is balanced by lots of lemon zest.
Luscious lemon layers are filled with strawberry jam and a little lemon buttercream and the whole cake is covered in the lemon-spiked frosting. I topped mine with blueberries but you could certainly do fresh strawberries or raspberries as you like. This is definitely a more "fancy" cake than what I usually do, which makes it a special occasion treat, and so worth it!
Why You'll Love This Lemon Layer Cake
Lemony! Lots of lemon zest make this cake flavorful and delicious.
Perfect gluten-free crumb. This is one of those cakes where the right blend of gluten-free flours comes together to create a cake crumb that's smooth and light. You'd be hard-pressed to tell it's gluten-free.
Great for celebrations. This cake takes a bit more time to put together, making it worthy of a special occasion. You could serve it at a spring dinner party or for a birthday.
Ingredients Needed to Make Gluten-Free Lemon Layer Cake
To make the cake
- Sweet white rice flour: Acts as a binder for the gluten-free flours.
- Sorghum flour: Brings whole-grain texture to the mix.
- Tapioca flour: Adds lightness and loft to the cake.
- Baking powder
- Fine sea salt
- Organic lemons
- Unsalted butter
- Pure vanilla extract
- Whole milk
- Strawberry jam: You could use any jam here that you prefer.
To make the frosting
- Unsalted butter
- Powdered sugar
- Fresh lemon juice
- Organic lemon
- Whole milk
How to Make a Gluten-Free Lemon Layer Cake
Scroll down to the recipe card at the end of this post for the full instructions.
- Prepare pans. Butter 2 8-inch cake pans and line with parchment paper.
- Whisk flours. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, and salt.
- Mix lemon and sugar. In a large bowl, rub the lemon zest into the sugar for a minute or so until fragrant.
- Cream butter. Add the butter to the bowl. Cream the butter into the sugar-zest mixture, beating on high speed for about 3 minutes. Beat in eggs and vanilla.
- Add flours. Add the dry mix in three additions alternating with the milk.
- Rest batter. Divide the batter evenly between the two pans and let rest for 10 minutes.
- Bake cake. Place the cake in the oven and bake for about 30-35 minutes. Let cool completely.
- Make frosting. Beat the butter, powdered sugar, lemon juice, and zest together. Add milk and mix until desired consistency.
- Fill cake. Place one cake layer on a plate. Spread a very thin layer of buttercream on the layer, then top with the strawberry jam
- Frost cake. Top with the other cake layer. Frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining buttercream.
Sorghum flour - swap in oat flour.
Sweet white rice flour - try almond flour.
Tapioca flour - use arrowroot.
To make dairy-free - use coconut oil in place of the butter and a non-dairy milk of choice.
To make refined sugar-free - Sub maple sugar for the sugar, and homemade powdered sugar for the powdered sugar.
Cake may be stored, well-covered in the fridge, for 3 days. Bring to room temperature to serve for the best texture and flavor.
Gluten-Free Lemon Layer Cake
- 1 ½ cups/165 g sweet white rice flour
- 1 cup + 2 tbsp/145 g sorghum flour
- ¼ cup/45 g tapioca flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 ¾ cups sugar
- 2 organic lemons, zested about 1 heaping Tablespoon
- 1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
- 3 large eggs, at room temperature
- 2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 ⅓ cup whole milk, at room temperature
- ½-1 cup strawberry jam, for filling
- ¾ cup unsalted butter
- 1 ½ cups powdered sugar
- 2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 organic lemon, zested
- 1-2 tablespoon whole milk
- Butter 2 8-inch cake pans and line with parchment paper.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, and salt.
- In a large bowl, place the sugar and lemon zest. Using your hands, rub the lemon zest into the sugar for a minute or so until fragrant to release the lemon oil.
- Add the butter to the bowl with the sugar and lemon zest. Using a stand or handheld mixer, cream the butter into the sugar-zest mixture, beating on high speed for about 3 minutes until smooth and creamy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl as necessary. Beat in the vanilla until well combined.
- Add the flour mixture in three additions with the milk: flours, milk, flours, milk, and finish with the flours. Mix well on medium speed to make sure all the flours are incorporated.
- Divide the batter evenly between the two pans. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes, then preheat oven to 350° F. Let cake batter continue to rest until oven is ready.
- Place the cake in the oven and bake for about 30-35 minutes, checking at 25 minutes, until a tester inserted in the middle comes out clean. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack; let cake cool in pans for 10 minutes, then turn out onto the rack to cool completely.
- With a handheld or stand mixer, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy, about 2 minutes. Add powdered sugar, lemon juice, and zest with the mixer running on low. Add the milk. Increase mixer speed to high speed and beat for 3 minutes until light and fluffy. If you think you need it, add a bit more sugar or milk for desired consistency.
- Place one cake layer on a plate. Spread a very thin layer of buttercream on the layer, then top with the strawberry jam. I went light on the jam, but you could increase it as you wish.
- Top with the other cake layer. Frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining buttercream.
- Store the cake, well-covered, in the fridge, but serve at room temperature for best texture and flavor. Cake will keep in the fridge for 5 days.
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