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 deliciously moist, dairy-free and the recipe makes 2 tall layers for a cake that is perfect for any occasion.
I have used several different gluten-free flour blends for this cake and they all worked well.
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. Be sure to check out my collection of King Arthur Gluten-Free Flour recipes. Cup4Cup (contains dairy) and Pamela’s All Purpose Artisan Blend are similar and will work also. All of these flours are certified gluten-free.
Whichever gluten-free flour you use, read the label. If yours contains xanthan gum, guar gum or inulin, there’s no need to add the xanthan gum called for in the recipe.
I prefer to mix up my own gluten-free blend so I can use flours other than rice flour. See the notes in the recipe for a super simple DIY gluten-free flour blend or my blog post on gluten–free flours for baking.
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 before 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.
How to Tell When the Cake is Done
I find it much easier to tell when a gluten-free cake is ready. When the top of this 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.
Very gently tap the center of the cake. If it bounces back, the cake is done.
How to Stack a 2-Layer Cake
This recipe yields 2 generously tall layers. This way, your layer cake will look grand and substantial and will feed at least 12 or more. I make lots of cakes for clients and there’s nothing worse than a layer cake that’s too small.
If you want a bakery style cake with two even, straight layers and a flat, level top, here is how to assemble your cake:
- Use a long blade, serrated knife.
- Hold it parallel to the counter top and shave off the domed part of the cake top. Do this for both layers.
- Place one of the layers on a cake plate, cake board, bottom side down. Then place on a cake turntable if you have one.
- Coat just the top of this layer with frosting. Press down firmly to get the frosting to adhere.
- Place the other layer on top of it, bottom side up. This will give you a nice flat, sharp-edged top layer.
- Now frost the outside of the cake
Gluten-Free Lemon Layer Cake
- 2½ c gluten-free flour blend*
- 1 Tbsp baking powder
- 1 tsp xanthan gum omit if your flour blend contains it
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 c sugar
- 1 cup dairy-free milk almond, coconut, soy
- 1 c oil I prefer sunflower
- 4 eggs
- zest of 2 lemons
- 1 Tbsp lemon extract
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 350° and grease and line 2 round 8 or 9" cake pans.
- Zest the lemon and whisk into the oil and milk. Set aside, This will allow time for the lemon zest to give up its flavor to the liquid. If I think of it, I do this the night before I make the cake and store in the fridge.
- Whisk the all dry ingredients, except the sugar, together in a large mixing bowl.
- Beat the sugar with all of the wet ingredients together in another bowl. Beat until the mixture is pale yellow and creamy.
- Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix until smooth.
- Divide the batter evenly between the 2 pans and bake 40-45 minutes for 8" layers and 30-35 minutes for 9" layers or until the top is set and bounces back from a gentle tap.
- Cool the cakes in the pan for 5-10 minutes, then remove them from the pan and finish cooling on a wire rack.
- 1 c sweet white sorghum flour
- 3/4 c millet flour
- 1/4 c brown rice flour
- 2/3 c potato starch1/3 c tapioca starch
- 2 c brown rice flour
- 2/3 c potato starch
- 1/3 c tapioca starch