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lemony cream butter cake

This tastes just like an Entenmann's.

It's light lemony cream cheese filling and soft butter cake bottom kept me coming back to the refrigerator with a fork.

This breakfast cake is my lemon butter cake experiment gone good.

Unexpectedly better than good.

It started with an episode of "Kid in a Candy Store" that featured a yummy-looking St. Louis gooey butter cake.

I wanted some.

However, I didn't want to use a cake mix. Plus, I didn't want to skip the cream cheese, as required by the homemade version that kept popping up online.

So I rewound the episode several times to narrow down what they used to build their gooey butter cake.

I wanted something lemon, too.

And...voila -- I got an Entenmann's cheese danish. Except sans danish and all butter cake.

A darned addictive Entenmann's.

It's has a lightly sweet-light lemony filling that made it an all-day cake -- breakfast, snack-time, way-after-dinner time.

And there's two layers:

There's the thin buttery cake on the bottom with its golden-crusted edge.

And then there's the luscious lemony cream cheese topping.

You bake it for a while and a perfect sugary crisp crust forms over the top.

So, really, I guess there's three layers.

I want more.

Lemony Cream Butter Cake

cake layer adapted from the Ricotta Blintz Casserole  recipe in Blue Eggs and Yellow Tomatoes: A Backyard Garden-to-Table Cookbook, by Jeanne Kelley

For the cake --

  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt (heaping)
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice (which was about 1 lemon for me)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • zest of two lemons

For the cream cheese filling --

  • 8 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease or spray a 9" springform pan with vegetable spray.

Make the filling -- In a large bowl or bowl of a standmixer, beat the cream cheese on medium-high to high speed for about 5 minutes, until smooth and creamy.

Add confectioners' sugar and beat for another 2 to 3 minutes. Add egg and beat until completely combined, about 1 minute. Add butter, both extracts and lemon zest. Beat until completely combined, about 1 minute. Set aside.

Make the cake -- In large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Whisk in melted butter, eggs, lemon juice, vanilla extract and lemon zest until combined. Do not overmix.

Pour batter evenly into springform pan. Carefully pour filling mixture evenly over the cake batter to within about 1/2 inch of the edge of the pan. (The filling should cover all but the outer 1/2 inch, at which point the cake batter will be visible.)

Bake for about 35 to 40 minutes, or until the cake has puffed up and toothpick inserted near edge of cake comes out clean.

Allow to cool in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Carefully remove springform sides and allow to cool on rack for 1 hour. Transfer to refrigerator and chill completely before serving.

Serve chilled, with a little sprinkling of confectioners' sugar.

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Reader Comments (99)

Well, I have made cakes before and had them fall to pieces or crack and it is no fun. I guess I can just use this as an excuse to spring for a springform ;) I do appreciate the speedy response and am so looking forward to making this!

June 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAmy

Made this for a bridal shower. It was even better than described!

June 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDeb

Thanks for all the delicious looking recipes! I made this last night - will be serving it at a small dinner party tonight. Mine didn't form a crispy sugary top, and your pictures look like the cake ended up on the top and bottom - mine basically looks like a cheesecake with a golden cake crust. I wonder what I did wrong? I'm sure it will still taste delish and I can't wait to try the lemon mascarpone cream filled cupcakes!!!

July 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMandy

First let me say, that this was absolutely incredible! I make desserts ALL the time and this was one that was gone literally in one day! I do have a question though, my cream cheese filling sank all the way to the bottom, so there was a very distinct layer of cream cheese, then cake. It still tasted amazing, but was wondering why you thought it might have done that?

I would love for you to check out my blog and follow me on Pinterest and Facebook! Love your stuff!!

August 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBrooke Griffin

I am making this for my best friend's birthday dinner tonight...Can't wait! Will let you know how it turns out!

August 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCinde

Hi Mandy and Brooke - I'm glad to hear the cakes came out well! It sounds like you each had the opposite issue when it comes to the look of the final cake though -- the cream cheese filling came out either on the top or the bottom of the cake layer.
Here's a few things that I would check on:
Mandy - baking powder. That's pretty much the only leavening in the cake layer. Old or unsealed baking powder doesn't have the lifting power of the fresh powder. The fresh powder should make the cake puff up like crazy.
Brooke - I'm wondering if maybe your cream cheese layer may have been a bit denser, thus making it heavier. The key to the filling is the whipping time, which gives it a bunch of air and makes it lighter. (On a side note, Brooke - you're kids are so cute!)
These are my best guesses. Hope they help for next time!

August 12, 2012 | Registered Commenterblackjack bakehouse

Cinde - can't wait to hear back! Thanks!

August 12, 2012 | Registered Commenterblackjack bakehouse

I just made this today and it is STUNNING, so delicious and so easy! It's definitely one to add to my recipe book, I'm making it when I next have friends over. If anyone is interested, I made it with lemon juice instead of extract in the filling and this was fine. Also I don't have a 9" tin, so I made 2 x 6" tins with this recipe and this worked great. Thanks!

August 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle

Michelle - so glad you enjoyed the cake! Thanks for the info on alternate pans, too!

August 16, 2012 | Registered Commenterblackjack bakehouse

Just took my cake out of the oven, it is now cooling. So far, so good. Looks delicious, smells scrumptious. Can't wait to try it. Thanks for this recipe...

August 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCheryl

Do u think it would do well as cupcakes?

August 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDionne

I made this cake last night--looks and tastes good, but my filling sank to the bottom as well. I'm trying to figure out why: I did use the light cream cheese (all I had in the house), wondering if it is heavier than regular because it is lowfat--anybody else try this? I whipped it a lot, but room temperature in my kitchen is about 86 this time of year in Phoenix--maybe it was just too soft to get enough air into? I also used gluten-free flour, but I don't think that would make the difference.
On another note, when I try it again, I think I'll use all lemon juice instead of extract--found that I'm just not very fond of the extract flavor....
Thanx for great recipes--I enjoy your blog!!

August 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKathi

Dionne -- Not sure the butter cake would work as cupcakes. I've tried to turn this butter cake batter into cupcakes and it was just too buttery (as crazy as that sounds!). Although this cake batter is awesome in the springform pan and even in a regular cake pan (used in other butter cake recipes), it wasn't so hot in those little paper cups.

Kathi -- Happy to hear you enjoyed the cake! All three of the things you mentioned can definitely affect your cake. I've tried using light cream cheese in other recipes and find it doesn't work the way it should much of the time. The light stuff also seems to liquify pretty quickly when beaten. I've also been doomed in other recipes by my hot kitchen! Once butter or cream cheese reaches that super soft stage, beating it into something fluffy and airy is pretty much impossible. Also, I've never used gluten-free flour, but experimenting with different types of flour usually has dramatic affects on my desserts, some of which were really just kind of disgusting, like rice flour and cocoa rubber cookies. I hope you give the cake another stab and let us know how it turns out!

August 30, 2012 | Registered Commenterblackjack bakehouse

Hi there! Thks you so much for this delish recipe.
When i saw the pics it made me think of an italian cake called La torta della nona that i ate in Firenze! So much souvenir! Well then i tried your recipe and i think i made something wrong as the cake came out not like yours at all! There was 2 layers, cheese cake on top and the whole thing was very very greasy! I microwave the butter to get it melted but were u
Meaning soften butter?! Please help me make it perfect! Thanks in advance!

September 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBridget

Hi Bridget - It's hard to know exactly why baked things don't always come out right. I would check to make sure you use the right amount of butter in the cake batter (1/2 cup or 8 tablespoons), as well as the right amount of butter in the cream cheese layer (3 tablespoons). Also, in case you're using the metric system, there are measurement converters online, like this one -- -- that can help. Whipping time is also important here, as it'll make your cream cheese filling lighter. Hope this helps!

September 25, 2012 | Registered Commenterblackjack bakehouse

I can only seem to find my 8.26" springform pan and can't find my 9". Will this work? Should I slightly lengthen the baking time? Ideas would be helpful as I need to get this done tonight. If I don't hear anything back I'll give it a shot and tell you all how it goes.

November 15, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJen

Hi Jen -- I haven't tried it with that size of springform, but I believe it'll work. Not sure about the timing though. I'd need to experiment a bit. I think I'd probably start checking the cake around 45 minutes and then every few minutes after that until a toothpick inserted near the edge of the cake comes out clean. That can be a hassle, but this way it shouldn't come out underdone or overbaked. Hope all goes well!

November 15, 2012 | Registered Commenterblackjack bakehouse

how important is it to chill completely before eating? would room temp be okay? I want to try this out, but afraid I wont have time in the morning to mix, bake, cool, refrigerate before brunch.

November 21, 2012 | Unregistered Commentersm94109

Hi sm -- I prefer it chilled, as I felt it improved the flavor of the entire cake and texture of the cheese layer. But serving it at room temperature is good, too! I think it's really just a matter of degrees. Both ways are delicious. Hope your brunch is fab!

November 21, 2012 | Registered Commenterblackjack bakehouse

Just made this - it's actually in the oven right now! I only had salted butter so hopefully it turns out okay.. The batter tasted amazing however so my fingers are crossed! Thanks for the recipe. :)

December 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAlexis Bradley

Made this today and I found this to be a very nice, easy to make dessert. It is a light and refreshing cake. Will make again. We loved it. Thank you

January 6, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRaelene

This is delicious! Quick and easy, and my guys love it! I made it after dinner and we eenjoyed it very much. great recipe!

January 22, 2013 | Unregistered Commentermandi

Made this tonghtbforcquiltvbee tomorrow. Little crumbs that i tried were fab. Thanks for the recipe.

January 29, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDenise

Thank you for posting such a great recipe! I just wanted to say that, I have celiac and I converted the recipe to be gluten free, because it looked so fantastic I had to give it a try!
It came out GREAT! I then switched it up a little more and made it gluten-free and vegan, and it was also GREAT! So if anyone asks about how it turns out gluten free or vegan, I'd be happy to share what worked well.
Thanks again! FABULOUS RECIPE!!

February 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPeacegypsy

the center of the cake has to be set ?? because i inserted a toothpick near the edge of the cake and it came out clean but the center of the cake isn't set

February 22, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterfelicity

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