When I offer people gluten-free lemon cake as an option they don’t always jump on it. But if I give them a sample, that’s a different story. This gluten-free lemon cake is light, moist and also dairy-free. It is one of my favorite cakes of all time and the favorite of many of my friends, family and clients.
This recipe yields 2 generously tall layers. This way your layer cake will look grand and substantial and will feed 12 or more. I make lots of cakes for clients and there’s nothing worse than a layer cake that’s too small.
The key to the lemon flavor in this gluten-free cake is lots of lemon zest and lemon extract. Lemon zest is the outer layer of the lemon skin and has a strong pop of flavor. Using a microplane is the easiest and best way to zest a lemon. If you haven’t used lemon zest before, here is a quick tutorial on how to zest a lemon.
I like to add the zest to the dairy-free milk the night or the morning before and let it sit in the refrigerator. This allows the lemon zest to really give up its flavor into the cake, You can also warm the milk with the lemon zest for 10-15 seconds in the microwave. This will help flavor the milk and the cake.
I have used several different gluten-free flour blends for this cake and they all worked well. I prefer to mix up my own as a cost-saver. See the notes in the recipe for a super simple DIY gluten-free flour blend or my blog post on gluten–free flours.
If you prefer a store bought blend, I recommend King Arthur Gluten-Free Measure for Measure flour which already contains xanthan gum. It works very well in this recipe. Cup4Cup (contains dairy) and Pamela’s Artisan Blend are similar and will work also.
Whichever gluten-free flour you use, read the label. If yours contains xanthan gum, guar gum or inulin, no need to add the xanthan gum called for in the recipe.
How to tell when the lemon cake is done
I find it much easier to tell when a gluten-free cake is ready. When the top of this gluten-free lemon cake is set you can be pretty sure it’s done. The surface of the layer will be uniformly set, unlike gluten-filled cakes that can look set but sometimes be under done on the inside. I feel pretty confident that it’s ready without having to drop in a toothpick.