Lemon Poke Cake

This incredibly soft and moist Lemon Poke Cake is bursting with fresh lemon flavor! It’s finished off with a light and fluffy mascarpone whipped cream frosting that takes it over the top into utter dessert perfection.

A slice of lemon poke cake on a dessert plate with another piece on a plate in the background

Ultra Moist and Tender Lemon Poke Cake

There’s just something wonderful about poke cakes. They are easy to make, super moist and can be flavored in all sorts of ways. From Strawberry Poke Cake to Baileys Chocolate Poke Cake, I’ve tried and loved many, many versions.

This Lemon Poke Cake is definitely added to my list of faves. It’s just so light and tender and just FULL of refreshing lemon flavor. The cake itself is nice and sweet with just the right amount of tartness, and don’t even get me started on the mascarpone topping. It makes the cake more addicting than I ever could’ve imagined. And with the whipped cream piped in rosettes on top, it’s perfect for spring!

A piece of lemon poke cake on a plate with one bite on a metal fork

What You’ll Need

As is the case with every good dessert, this poke cake starts with a tried and true ingredient lineup. Let’s dive in.

For the Lemon Poke Cake

  • All-Purpose Flour: Use a food scale or the spoon and level method to make sure you get an accurate flour measurement.
  • Baking Powder & Baking Soda: These leavening agents work together to give you a soft and fluffy cake.
  • Salt: If you only have salted butter on hand, you can still make this cake by simply reducing the amount of salt you add.
  • Unsalted Butter: Brought to room temperature.
  • Vegetable Oil: For extra moisture.
  • Sugar
  • Vanilla Extract: To enhance the lemon flavor.
  • Eggs: They should be large size.
  • Milk: I use 2%, but whole milk would work as well.
  • Lemon Juice: Freshly squeezed. You’ll need half a cup for the batter and another half cup to pour over the finished cake.
  • Fresh Lemon Zest
  • Sweetened Condensed Milk: The condensed milk will be combined with the lemon juice and poured over your cake.

For the Mascarpone Whipped Cream Frosting

  • Heavy Whipping Cream: Be sure to use HEAVY whipping cream. It has a higher fat content that is needed for a sturdy whipped cream. It also needs to be cold.
  • Powdered Sugar: Adds sweetness, but also keeps the whipped cream from wilting.
  • Vanilla Extract
  • Mascarpone Cheese: This should be cool but not too cold or warm. It can get too soft if warm and it’ll thin out and not firm back up properly. You can swap it out for cream cheese if you’d like, but I highly recommend sticking with the lemon-mascarpone combo. It’s heavenly!
A slice of lemon poke cake on a white plate on top of a marble countertop

How to Make this Lemon Poke Cake

Make the Cake

Once you’ve extracted the juice from your lemons, you’re ready to start making your cake. Happy baking!

  1. Prep for Baking: Preheat the oven to 350°F and prepare a 9×13-inch cake pan with nonstick baking spray.
  2. Combine Dry Ingredients: Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium-sized bowl and set the mixture aside.
  3. Cream Butter, Oil, Sugar & Vanilla: Add the butter, oil, sugar and vanilla extract to a large mixer bowl and beat until the mixture is light in color and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Do not skimp on the creaming time.
  4. Add Eggs: Add the eggs one at a time, mixing until mostly combined after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed to be sure all of the ingredients are well incorporated.
  5. Start Adding Dry Ingredients: Add half of the dry ingredients to the wet ingredient mixture and mix until mostly combined.
  6. Add Milk, Lemon Juice & Lemon Zest: Combine the milk, lemon juice and lemon zest, then slowly add the mixture to the batter, mixing until well combined.
  7. Finish Adding Dry Ingredients: Add the remaining dry ingredients to the batter and mix until well combined and smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Do not over-mix the batter.
  8. Bake: Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
  9. Remove From Oven & Poke Holes: Remove your cake from the oven and poke holes all over the top of the cake. I use a knife sharpener, but the handle of a wooden spoon or spatula would work too.
  10. Combine Condensed Milk & Lemon Juice: Combine the sweetened condensed milk with the remaining lemon juice.
  11. Pour Over Cake: Pour the mixture over the top of the warm cake, allowing it to soak into the holes. If a little bit remains on top of the cake, that’s ok.
  12. Let Cool: Let the cake cool completely inside of the pan.

Make the Frosting

  1. Combine Heavy Cream, Powdered Sugar & Vanilla: Place the heavy whipping cream, powdered sugar and vanilla extract into a large mixer bowl. Whip on high speed until soft peaks form.
  2. Add Mascarpone: Add the mascarpone cheese and continue whipping. Start on low speed to let it begin to incorporate, then turn it up to high speed until stiff peaks form, which should happen quickly.
  3. Add to Cake: Pipe or spread your whipped cream frosting onto the completely cooled cake.
  4. Enjoy! Cut the cake into slices and serve it. Top each piece with a slice of lemon and a few fresh berries if desired.
A lemon poke cake inside of a 9x13-inch pan with mascarpone whipped cream frosting piped on top of it

Tips for Success

Want some extra advice to help you make a flawless lemon poke cake? I’ve got you covered!

  • Use Ripe Lemons: Look for lemons that have a glossy surface and a bright yellow or yellow-green color. This indicates ripeness, meaning you’ll get the most bang for your buck.
  • Bring the Butter to Room Temperature: Don’t try to use cold butter in this cake – it won’t cream with the oil, sugar and vanilla properly. You should be able to make a dent in it when you press on it gently with your finger.
  • Pour in the Condensed Milk & Lemon Juice While the Cake is Warm: It’s important to poke holes into your cake and pour the condensed milk mixture over it before it has cooled. This allows the liquids to soak into the cake and infuse it with moisture and flavor. After that, let it cool completely before you add the frosting.
  • Refrigerate the Cake if You’re Not Serving it Immediately: You don’t want to let this cake sit out at room temperature after it has cooled. Keep it in the fridge unless you’re serving it right away.
A piece of lemon poke cake on a plate with folded up cloth napkins underneath it

Storage Instructions

This cake should be tightly covered and kept in the fridge. Enjoy it within 3-4 days of making it.

Is Poke Cake Freezer Friendly?

If you’d like to store your cake in the freezer, it’s best to do so before you frost it. Wrap it tightly in two layers of plastic wrap and freeze it for up to 3 months. Thaw it out in the fridge overnight before adding the whipped cream frosting.

Print
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A piece of lemon poke cake on a plate with one bite on a metal fork
Recipe

Lemon Poke Cake

  • Author: Lindsay
  • Prep Time: 45 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
  • Yield: 15-18
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: American

Description

This incredibly soft and moist Lemon Poke Cake is bursting with fresh lemon flavor! It’s finished off with a light and fluffy mascarpone whipped cream frosting that takes it over the top into utter dessert perfection.


Ingredients

For the Lemon Poke Cake

  • 2 1/2 cups (325g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup (112g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cups (310g) sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup (180ml) milk
  • 1 cup (240ml) fresh lemon juice, divided
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon zest
  • 3/4 cup (180ml) sweetened condensed milk

For the Mascarpone Whipped Cream Frosting

  • 1 1/2 cups (360ml) heavy whipping cream
  • 3/4 cup (86g) powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 8 oz mascarpone cheese, cool but not cold

Instructions

Make the Cake

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (176°C) and prepare a 9×13 inch cake pan with non-stick baking spray.
  2. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium-sized bowl and set aside.
  3. Add the butter, oil, sugar and vanilla extract to a large mixer bowl and beat together until light in color and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Do not skimp on the creaming time.
  4. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing until mostly combined after each. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed to be sure all ingredients are well incorporated.
  5. Add half of the dry ingredients to the batter and mix until mostly combined.
  6. Combine the milk, 1/2 a cup of lemon juice, and lemon zest, then slowly add the mixture to the batter and mix until well combined.
  7. Add the remaining dry ingredients and mix until well combined and smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed to be sure all ingredients are well incorporated. Do not over mix the batter.
  8. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  9. Remove the cake from the oven and poke holes all over the top of the cake. I use a knife sharpener, but the end of the handle of a wooden spoon or spatula would work too.
  10. Combine the sweetened condensed milk and remaining 1/2 cup of lemon juice and pour over the top of the warm cake, allowing it to soak into the holes. If a little bit remains on top of the cake, that’s ok. Let cake cool completely.

Make the Frosting

  1. Place the heavy whipping cream, powdered sugar and vanilla extract into a large mixer bowl. Whip on high speed until soft peaks form.
  2. Add the mascarpone cheese and continue whipping. Start on low speed to let it begin to incorporate, then turn it up to high speed until stiff peaks form, which should happen quickly.
  3. Pipe or spread the whipped cream onto the cake.
  4. Refrigerate the cake until ready to serve.

Notes

  • Makes 15-18 slices.
  • To Store: Cover cake tightly and store in the fridge for up to 4 days.
  • To Freeze: Wrap unfrosted cake tightly in two layers of plastic wrap. Freeze for up to 3 months and thaw in the fridge overnight before frosting.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size:
  • Calories: 400
  • Sugar: 29.8 g
  • Sodium: 130.5 mg
  • Fat: 22.9 g
  • Carbohydrates: 44.5 g
  • Protein: 5.8 g
  • Cholesterol: 86.7 mg

Keywords: cake with lemon, lemon dessert, frosting with mascarpone

More Decadent Lemon Dessert Ideas

I definitely have a soft spot for lemon-flavored goodies. The recipes below are near and dear to my heart!

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Recipe rating

7 Comments
  1. Esther

    Excited to make this for my son’s 2nd birthday (he loves lemon)! I couldn’t find mascarpone cheese, so I’m swapping cream cheese. Do I need to bring the cream cheese to room temp?

Lindsay
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!

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