Lemon Cake with Lemon Bavarian Cream

This Lemon Cake recipe features alternating layers of moist lemon cake, lemon Bavarian cream and lemon curd filling – plus lemon buttercream! It’s the ultimate easy cake recipe for lemon lovers!

Lemon Bavarian Cake recipe

Lemon Bavarian Cake

So two big things are happening in our house this week. First, my blog turns 6 on Wednesday! It’s crazy to think that I’ve been sharing recipes and bits of life here for that long. If you’ve been hanging around since the beginning (thank you!), then you know things have come a long way since those first posts and photos, ha! I’ve gone back and updated photos on a couple posts like this Cheesy Hashbrown Casserole, but for the most part, they are the originals.

And although the photos may not be great, I still make this Funfetti Cake Batter French Toast Casserole for breakfast every year for my birthday, this Sweet Potato Casserole every year for Thanksgiving and Christmas and this Caramel Macchiato Tiramisu Trifle (or these Caramel Clusters) whenever I want a quick and easy dessert. Not to mention that I’m still pretty proud of this 70th birthday hat cake, even though I don’t make cakes like that these days. Oh, and these Funfetti Cake Batter Pancakes – they make regular appearances. Some of those original recipes really are my faves!

The other big thing this week is that we are taking the boys on their first road trip! We aren’t going far, but it’ll be a bit of an experiment. I’m pretty sure we’ll drive at night and hope they just sleep. Fingers crossed!

Speaking of the boys, it’s amazing how much they’ve been growing and changing recently! They are almost 6 months old and getting so big and even more adorable. If you don’t follow me on Instagram, you totally should. I share photos and videos of them pretty regularly. Not only are they super close to being able to sit on their own, they are scooting around and getting ready to start army crawling. We also introduced them to solids (rice cereal – boring) and will probably give them their first veggie tonight. Flavor! Real food! Such excitement! They are becoming so much more aware of their surroundings and are curious about everything and they’re even starting to really interact with each other. It’s so fun to watch them.

How to make this Lemon Cake

Back to the food! I suppose that’s why you’re really here, right? So let’s talk about this lemon cake.

When I posted my Banana Cream Cheesecake that was topped with bavarian cream a bit ago, I had a bit of a request for a lemon cake with some bavarian cream layers. It was such a tempting idea, I just had to make it! Moist lemon cake with fresh bavarian cream? Oh yea! I decided to include some lemon curd in there too, for good measure, but you could totally leave out the curd and add more bavarian cream.

Beautifully decorated Lemon Bavarian CakeBest Lemon Bavarian Cake

So to get started making this cake, you’ll first make the lemon curd. Just throw some lemon juice and zest, sugar, egg yolks and a bit of butter in a double boiler and cook until it reaches between 170 and 180 degrees. I like to use a thermometer to test the temperature, just to be sure it’ll be cooked to the exact thickness I want it at.

Once the lemon curd is made, set it in the fridge to cool and thicken.

The lemon bavarian cream is next. I spent a little extra time on this one, since the acidity of the lemons can have an effect on the gelatin needed to firm up the cream. In this case, the lemon juice does soften the gelatin a bit and you’ll see that at room temperature, it’s not as firm as it normally would be. But once refrigerated, it firms up nicely and since this cake gets stored in the fridge, it’s all good. Plus, it’s still thick enough when at room temperature, it’s just not rock solid. Who would want that between cake layers anyway, right?

The lemon bavarian cream is set in the fridge to firm up along with the lemon curd. One of the nice things about this cake is that both fillings can be made ahead of time. I actually made both the fillings and the cake layers the day before assembling everything.

The lemon cake layers themselves are a variation of my Moist and Fluffy Vanilla Cake. It’s super buttery and has such a lovely texture to it. With the addition of the lemon, it’s perfectly moist, tender and lemon-y! I’m in love! It’s so soft, I’d actually recommend using a cake lifter to move the thin cake layers around.

To put the cake together, you’ll need to also make the lemon buttercream. It’s full of butter, sugar and lemon juice and zest – all the things you need in a great buttercream. When you’re ready to use the fillings, you’ll want to stir them up well and smooth them out a bit.

I layered the cake with three layers of the lemon bavarian cream and two layers of lemon curd. To help hold everything in place, I piped small dams of the lemon buttercream between each layer. I tend to use a pretty large tip for my dams, but since these are thinner cake and filling layers, I used a smaller round tip – the Ateco 804 (the Wilton 2A is similar).

Once everything is layered together, I suggest adding a crumb coat and then refrigerating the cake until it’s had a chance to set. Then frost the cake with the remaining lemon buttercream. For decorating, I decided to create a bit of a watercolor effect. Once the cake is frosted, color the remaining frosting to a nice shade of yellow. Place little blobs of the yellow frosting around the cake, then finish smoothing out the sides and you’ve got a lovely watercolor look going on. I did the piping around the edges with the yellow buttercream as well and I love the final look! So bright, summery and lemon-y!

This cake was a big hit! Everything from the texture and flavor of the cake layers to the fillings was spot on and so tasty! If you’re a lover of lemon, this cake should be the next treat you try!

Favorite Lemon Bavarian Cakebite taken out of Lemon Bavarian Cake slice

Read transcript

More lemon cakes and desserts:

Triple Lemon Cake
Lemon Mascarpone Layer Cake
Lemon Meringue Cheesecake
Lemon Blueberry Poke Cake
Lemon Raspberry Layer Cake
Lemon Cake Roll
Lemon Cheesecake Cake

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A Lemon Curd Layer Cake on a White Stand with a Slice Removed

The Ultimate Lemon Layer Cake

  • Author: Life Love and Sugar
  • Prep Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 7 hours, 55 minutes
  • Yield: 12-14 Slices
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: American


Made with moist and fluffy cake, a velvety buttercream frosting, silky bavarian cream and a zesty curd filling, this is The Ultimate Lemon Layer Cake! You won’t find this much fresh lemon flavor in any other dessert.


For the Lemon Cake

  • 3 cups (390g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 2 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups (336g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups (414g) sugar
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups (300ml) milk
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp lemon zest

For the Lemon Buttercream

  • 2 1/4 cups (504g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 9 1/2 cups (1093g) powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp lemon zest
  • 23 tbsp lemon juice
  • Yellow gel icing color

For the Lemon Curd

  • 1/4 cup (60ml) fresh lemon juice (about 12 lemons)
  • 2 tsp finely grated lemon zest
  • 1/3 cup (69g) sugar
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 2 tbsp (28g) salted butter

For the Lemon Bavarian Cream

  • 1 1/2 tsp powdered gelatin
  • 4 1/2 tbsp (68ml) lemon juice
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 3/4 cup (420ml) heavy whipping cream, divided
  • 3 tbsp (26g) sugar
  • 3/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup (58g) powdered sugar


Make the Cake

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (176°C). Line three 8-inch cake pans with parchment paper in the bottom and grease the sides.
    Combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a medium sized bowl. Set aside.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar in a large mixer bowl on medium speed for about 2-3 minutes, until light and fluffy.
  3. Add the egg whites and vanilla extract and mix until well combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, as needed, to make sure everything is combined.
  4. Add about one-third of the flour mixture to the batter and beat on medium speed until incorporated.
  5. Add about half of the milk and the lemon juice and zest and beat on medium speed until incorporated.
  6. Continue alternating adding dry and wet ingredients, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed, and beating until incorporated after each addition. There should be three total additions of dry ingredients and two total additions of milk. End with the dry ingredients.
  7. Divide the batter evenly between the cake pans.
  8. Bake the cakes for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cakes comes out clean. Don’t be alarmed if the tops are a little browned, that is normal.
  9. Remove the cakes from the oven and allow to cool for 1-2 minutes, then remove to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Make the Buttercream

  1. Add the butter to a large mixer bowl and beat until smooth.
  2. Slowly add about half of the powdered sugar, mixing until well combined and smooth.
  3. Add the salt, vanilla, lemon zest and lemon juice and mix until well combined and smooth.
  4. Slowly add the remaining powdered sugar and mix until well combined and smooth.
  5. Add additional lemon juice, if needed, to thin out the frosting.

Make the Curd

  1. Combine all the ingredients in a double boiler (or in a metal bowl over a pot of simmering water). Heat while whisking constantly until mixture thickens and reaches 170-180 degrees, or coats the back of a spoon.
  2. Pour the lemon curd into a heat proof bowl, cover with clear wrap pressed onto the the top of the curd to avoid a film developing, and refrigerate until cold and firm.

Make the Bavarian Cream

  1. In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin onto the lemon juice and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks together and set aside.
  3. Add 3/4 cup of the the heavy whipping cream, sugar, vanilla extract, lemon zest to a large saucepan and heat over medium heat until warm.
  4. Remove the cream mixture from heat and slowly pour the hot cream into the eggs to temper them.
  5. Add the egg and cream mixture back into the saucepan and return to the heat. Continue cooking over medium heat until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, or reaches about 160°F. It should happen fairly quickly.
  6. Add the gelatin mixture to the hot cream and stir until smooth.
  7. Pour the custard into another bowl and set that bowl inside another bowl over ice. Allow to cool to room temperature.
  8. While the custard cools, add the remaining cup of heavy whipping cream and powdered sugar to a large mixer bowl and whisk on high speed until stiff peaks form.
  9. When the custard is ready, gently fold the whipped cream into the custard. Be sure it’s at least room temperature, so the whipped cream doesn’t wilt/melt.


  1. The cake layers should be pretty flat, but if there’s a dome, trim the tops of the cakes so they are flat. Cut each cake in half, so that you end up with 6 layers of cake. Get the lemon curd and bavarian cream from the fridge and stir them until smooth. The bavarian cream may need a little hand whisking to work out any lumps.
  2. Place the first layer of cake on a serving platter. Pipe a small dam of frosting around the outer edge.
  3. Fill the dam with 1/3 of the bavarian cream.
  4. Place the second layer of cake on top of the cream. The cake layers are very tender, so I recommend using a cake lifter.
  5. Add another dam of frosting around the out edge of the cake. Fill the dam with about half of the lemon curd.
  6. Repeat with another layer of cake, dam of frosting and 1/3 of the bavarian cream.
  7. Repeat with another layer of cake, dam of frosting and 1/2 of the lemon curd.
  8. Repeat with the another layer of cake, dam of frosting and remaining 1/3 of the bavarian cream.
  9. Add the final layer of cake on top, then frost the outside of the cake with a crumb coat and refrigerate for at least 2-3 hours for the cake to firm up.
  10. Frost the outside of the cake and decorate as you wish. To create the watercolor look I used, frost the outside of the cake roughly, then color the remaining frosting with yellow gel icing color. Place a few blobs of yellow frosting around the outside of the cake, then smooth out the cake a few more times to spread the yellow frosting around and create the effect. Use the remaining yellow frosting to pipe around the edges.
  11. Refrigerate the cake until ready to serve. The cake is best when stored in an air tight container and eaten within 3-4 days.


You’ll need about 5 hours total of cooling time.

Keywords: lemon curd cake, lemon buttercream, easy lemon cake


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Lemon Bavarian Cake collage

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Recipe rating

  1. Kim

    This sounds delicious! Anyway to use regular sugar as a substitute for powdered? I usually don’t like American buttercream. More of a Swiss meringue girl. Do you have a lemon Swiss meringue recipe that would work? Thank you!

  2. Diane

    My daughter has requested this cake. But she lives 4 1/2 hours away. Do you think the Bavarian cream would hold up at the end of May in NC? I can put cooler packs around it, but they probably wouldn’t stay cold that long. She wants just Bavarian cream snd no lemon curd, unfortunately.

    1. Lindsay

      It’s hard to say for sure. It might be fine. You could pop it in the freezer for an hour or so before you leave to get it good and cold before you drive and see if that helps.

  3. Julie

    I haven’t tried this one yet, but I’m sure it’ll be amazing! Could I make the Bavarian cream and the curd a week ahead of time? Or will it not keep that long?

  4. Chris

    Can you share some instructions on how to cut the cake layers in 1/2 so perfectly. Every time I cut my layers in 1/2 they are so off. Thin on one side thick on the other side and I have had it high in the center and all over on the sides. Maybe a Video on how to cut a cake I half properly.

  5. Jess

    I made this cake for my niece’s first birthday, almost a year later my sister told me that she still regularly thinks about that cake and how delicious it was. That’s how good this recipe is. She was devastated on the day when the guests had second and third helpings and there were no left overs for her to eat later.

  6. Marge

    Is there a replacement I could use for the Bavarian cream? The rest of the recipe looks delicious but my family is not a huge fan of that.

  7. Sandra

    I’m going to try this today. Not going to use the curd. I’m making a lemon cake with raspberryfilling, with regular buttercream ? Do you have a regular buttercream that’s not so sweet. I’ve made a lemon cake with Italian buttercream. It was good but not enough of lemon in it and the buttercream was way to buttery l thought. So this is my second cake going to make. Try to find a cake that is tasty. I’m starting to make cakes for someone else than family and friends. It’s a little neve racking to make it great. The are allergic to nuts.
    She wants a cake lemon cake, raspberry filling, regular buttercream. I’ve made the raspberry filling. Sweet and tart.
    So any suggestions
    Thank you

  8. Cynthia

    I had a blast making this cake for my birthday in quarantine! So bright and fun, it definitely made things feel more festive 🙂 I was worried it might be too much lemon flavor but it was just right. The recipe was easy to follow and I was actually surprised at how easy it was to whip up a nice Bavarian cream (I’d never tried before). For a casual at-home baker I would definitely recommend making this a two-day process, particularly if you’re doing anything involved in terms of decorating the cake. In terms of alterations, I didn’t have an 8-inch round pan so I used two 9″ squares. I kept an eye on the cook time and adjusted down to four layers of cake instead of six (cake, 1/2 of the Bavarian cream, cake, all of the lemon curd, cake, 1/2 of the Bavarian cream, cake) to accommodate the size difference and it worked great, with a good moisture level and thick enough to cut into layers. The buttercream was a very nice consistency for decorating although I will say I have no idea how anyone eats that stuff – WAY too sweet for me! But it looked so fun and cheerful and the inside of the cake (with the curd and Bavarian cream) was delicious. I froze half of it–no way was our little quarantine household going to take out a whole cake in a few days–and I expect it to hold up well for a couple of months, with the lemon curd being the limiting factor on freeze time. Thank you to Lindsay for this recipe! It was a very welcome dose of sunshine for a birthday on lockdown. The suggestion in the comments of an orange version may very well be on the menu for next year!

    1. Cynthia

      (whoops, meant to say the Bavarian cream is the limiting factor on freeze time! either way it will be a sweet treat for months to come 🙂 )

  9. Shay

    Can this recipe done in two 8 inch pans… Pls reply soon im hoping to bake this cake tomorrow for a birthday.

    1. Lindsay

      Technically yes, but I find that when the cake layers get thicker, the cake gets more dense. So it depends a little on what kind of texture cake you prefer.

      1. Sierra C.

        This recipe is my top pick to try for my husband’s birthday cake! The only question I have is I was curious when you mix your eggs whites and vanilla for the cake, how fully are you getting your egg whites? I’m used to a having like a soft peak but was curious what you had done to achieve such great results! Thanks so much!

      2. Lindsay

        The egg whites aren’t whipped prior to adding them to the cake in this recipe. I hope you enjoy it!

  10. Shaylei

    Is it also possinle to just decorate the whole cream in buttercream than bavarian cream .As during this lockdown it is very hard to get a lot of things .

  11. Cindy

    I just made this cake.  The Bavarian cream and lemon curd were delicious.  The cake on the other hand didn’t. When it came out of the oven it was swimming in butter.  It was mushy and greasy.  Any suggestions?

    1. Lindsay

      It honestly sounds like an ingredient was off somewhere. That definitely shouldn’t be the result you get.

  12. Marie Dixon

    Hi Lindsay,
    Love your blog and your recipes. Have been asked to make a lemon cake for a friends fathers 80th birthday. I love cooking using weight measurement rather than cups and spoons seeing as I am in Australia and often our measurements are slightly different to yours. So was wondering could you tell me the correct amount of butter for the lemon buttercream specifically. Also if you have a weight measurement for any of the other ingredients that aren’t listed using weights that would be excellent but appreciate that you may not.
    Thanks heaps.

About Lindsay

I'm a wife and mom to twin boys, a baby girl and a sweet black lab with a serious sweets addiction! Bring on the sugar!

Scripture I’m Loving

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:12