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The Best Homemade Fresh Lemonade Cake Recipe

This Fresh Lemonade Cake is the season's best and most requested. We wanted a moist cake with a tender crumb tart with lemonade flavor that was still sweet.
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The frosting had to be made with butter to capture a good mouthfeel, unlike the grease of a shortening frosting. Do not substitute margarine here, or the flavor and texture will not be the same. We also wanted the frosting to have a good lemonade flavor without tasting “fake,” as is often the case with a lot of lemon extract; thus, the lemonade concentrate was used in the frosting. Our test kitchen staff agrees this is the best-tasting lemon buttercream imaginable!

Baker’s Tip:

This recipe uses almost 12 oz can of frozen lemonade concentrate (thawed) between the cake and the frosting. It also uses nearly a full pound of butter softened to room temperature between the cake and the frosting. It is helpful to plan on these ingredients.

Fresh Lemonade Cake

¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, softened

2 ¼ cup (11 oz) Panhandle Milling All-Purpose flour, sifted

1 small box (3.4 oz) instant vanilla pudding mix

1 cup granulated sugar

1 Tbsp baking powder

1 tsp. kosher salt

4 large eggs

3/4 cup frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed

1/2 cup milk at room temperature

2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

Pink or red food coloring (optional)

Lemonade Buttercream Frosting 

1 cup salted butter (2 sticks) softened at room temperature

2 lbs. powdered sugar

3/4 cup frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed

1 tsp vanilla

yellow food coloring (optional)

Optional: lemon slices to decorate the cake.

Directions:

For the cake:

  • Wash and sanitize hands, tools, and all work surfaces. Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease 3- 9-inch cake pans lined with parchment.
  • Combine the flour, pudding mix, sugar, baking powder, and salt in an electric mixer with a paddle attachment. With the mixer on low speed, add the softened butter a few Tablespoons at a time until the butter is fully incorporated and the mixture resembles a coarse meal.
  • Whisk together the eggs, lemonade, milk, lemon extract, and vanilla extract in a separate medium bowl.
  • Add the egg mixture and mix for 1 minute with the mixer still on low speed. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula to ensure the mixture is fully incorporated. Mix 2 minutes more. If desired, stir in a few drops of pink or red food coloring to create a light pink color.
  • Divide the batter evenly between the pans. Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pans.
  • Bake 30-35 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes clean. Wash and sanitize all work surfaces, and do not eat raw batter. Cool in the pan on a wire rack after the cake is out of the oven. The cake must be cooled completely before frosting.

For the frosting:

  • Combine the butter, powdered sugar, lemonade concentrate, and vanilla extract in a mixer with the paddle attachment. Start on low speed for 30 seconds, then increase to high-speed whipping until it is fluffy. Add food coloring if desired.
  • Once the cake is thoroughly cool, ice it with the frosting and decorate it with lemon slices, if desired.