Gluten-Free Sweet-Tart Lemon Cake

Gluten-Free Sweet-Tart Lemon Cake
Gluten-Free Sweet-Tart Lemon Cake photo by Jules Shepard
Prep time: 40 mins
Cook time: 40 mins
Calories: 563

Lemon lovers unite! This old-fashioned poke cake is so moist and lemony, it’s hard to resist. The perfect balance of sweet and tart, its lovely bright, cheerful flavor and texture are further enhanced when topped with Lemon Buttercream Frosting. This recipe can be made egg-free; see instructions.

gluten free lemon cake recipe
Gluten free lemon cake photo by Jules Shepard

gluten free lemon cake recipe
Gluten free lemon cake photo by Jules Shepard

gluten free lemon cake recipe
Gluten free lemon cake photo by Jules Shepard

For Egg-Free Sweet-Tart Lemon Cake, omit 3 eggs and 1 egg yolk. Reduce butter or buttery sticks by 2 tablespoons. Combine 2 tablespoons golden flax meal with 6 tablespoons hot unsweetened applesauce; let cool and thicken. Use this mixture in step 2 to replace the eggs and yolk. Add 1/4 cup arrowroot powder or cornstarch to the dry ingredients in step 3.

Lemon Buttercream Frosting


We recommend using a stand mixer with a whisk attachment to make this recipe. A hand-mixer can do the job; just add extra time for whipping at the end of the recipe.

1/2 cup butter or Earth Balance Buttery Sticks, softened
31/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Up to 1/4 cup milk of choice
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest, more to sprinkle on top, optional

1. In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Add sugar 3/4 cup at a time to fully incorporate. Add vanilla and lemon juice, beating to combine.

2. Slowly add milk, 1 tablespoon at a time, until proper consistency is reached. (Add more milk for creamy, spreadable frosting; less milk for piping.) Whip frosting 1 to 2 minutes until fluffy. Then stir in zest, if using.

Each tablespoon contains 35 calories, 1g total fat, 1g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 4mg cholesterol, 1mg sodium, 6g carbohydrate, 0g fiber, 6g sugars, 0g protein, 3Est GL.

Associate editor Jules Shepard is author of Free For All Cooking (DaCapo Perseus), The First Year: Celiac Disease and Living Gluten-Free (DaCapo Perseus) and Nearly Normal Cooking for Gluten-Free Eating (CreateSpace).


  • 1/2 cup butter or Earth Balance Buttery Sticks
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs + 1 yolk
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
  • 3 cups Jules’ Homemade All-Purpose Flour Blend
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/4 cup powdered milk of choice or almond meal
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup milk of choice (not skim or lite)
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 lemon, sliced thin and seeded
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice


1Preheat oven to 350°F (static) or 325°F (convection). Lightly grease a 9×13-inch pan.

2In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar, beating until light and fluffy. Slowly add eggs and yolk, 1 at a time, mixing until combined. Add 3 tablespoons lemon juice and mix.

3In a separate bowl, whisk together flour blend, baking powder, powdered milk and salt. Alternately add dry ingredients and milk into creamed butter/sugar mixture, just until ingredients are combined and batter is smooth. Fold in lemon zest. Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth top with a rubber spatula.

4Place pan in preheated oven and bake until cake pulls away slightly from the sides of the pan, about 40 minutes. Cake is done when a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean (not wet) or with very few crumbs.

5Remove from oven and let cake cool in pan on a wire rack 10 to 15 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the pan, if necessary to release the cake.

6While cake is baking, prepare lemon syrup. Bring 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup water to a boil in a small saucepan. Add lemon slices. Reduce heat and simmer 25 minutes. Remove lemon slices and set aside for garnishing cake later, if desired. Stir 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice into the syrup.

7Using a toothpick, poke holes into warm cake while it’s cooling in the pan. Pour lemon syrup over the top of the cake and into the holes. Let cake cool completely.

8Frost cooled cake in pan with Lemon Buttercream Frosting. Arrange cooked lemon slices over cake as decoration, if desired.

1 serving contains 563 calories, 19g total fat, 11g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 116mg cholesterol, 177mg sodium, 97g carbohydrates, 1g fiber, 64g sugars, 5g protein.