Our Lemon Cake Roll is a tart and luscious cake that is elegant enough for a special occasion dessert, yet somehow feels right as a mid-day treat paired with a cup of coffee or tea. Well in my opinion, this cake makes for a perfectly acceptable breakfast, too. 😉
This Lemon Cake Roll is a light sponge cake with creamy, lemon curd filling- the combination is a lemon lover’s dream. It’s also beautiful served with sprigs of mint and lemon garnish over a light dusting of confectioner’s sugar. The perfect summertime (or anytime) cake.
A Lemon Cake Roll might seem intimidating to try if you’ve never made one before, but this is quite simple to put together. This Lemon Cake Roll is:
- sweet and tangy
For the Cake
This cake recipe doesn’t call for any special ingredients, it’s essentially a sponge cake and you’ll likely have most of the items in your pantry already. The main ingredients for the cake are:
- All-purpose flour
- Powdered sugar
- Lemon zest
After you preheat the oven to 375°, line a greased, rectangular cake pan (we used a 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in.) with parchment paper and be sure to spray the paper with a non-stick spray. Beat the eggs in a large bowl, gradually add sugar and continue beating the mixture until it becomes thick (about two minutes). Stir in the water.
Combine the dry ingredients and then add them to the egg mixture. Your batter is ready! Pour the batter into your prepared pan and bake for about 10-12 minutes, or until the cake springs back when lightly touched. After you remove it from the oven, use a knife to loosen the outer edges of the cake, so you can easily remove it from the pan.
Dust the top of the cake with powdered sugar and then place a kitchen towel over the sugar layer. You can also use parchment paper if you prefer. Place a baking sheet or plastic cutting board over the towel and flip the cake over so the bottom of the cake is now on top. Before attempting this flip, double-check that the edges of the cake are not sticking to the pan!
With the bottom of the cake now on top, gently peel off the parchment paper that was on the bottom of the pan and is now stuck to the cake. Start with the short end of the cake and roll it in the towel (or more parchment paper) jelly-roll style. Cool the rolled cake on a wire rack. This is extra important! Rolling the cake while it’s still hot trains the shape for the roll. Let it cool completely with the towel inside.
For the Lemon Filling
The creamy lemon filling in this Lemon Cake Roll has a lemon curd base that is combined with cream cheese and whipping cream to make it light and fluffy. You will need:
- Unflavored gelatin
- 6 large egg yolks
- Lemon juice
- Lemon zest
- Cream cheese
- Lemon oil
- Whipping cream
Set a strainer over a bowl and place it near the stove- you will need this for later. Pour 1/4 cup of water into a small dish and sprinkle in the gelatin.
Blend the egg yolks, 3/4 cup of the sugar and the salt together in a heavy, non-reactive saucepan. Stir in the lemon juice and zest and cook the mixture, constantly stirring it over medium-low heat, for about 10-12 minutes. You will know it’s ready when it becomes thick and looks glossy. Note: The slower you cook the curd, the thicker it will be. Try not to let the mixture come to a full boil- if this happens then remove it from the heat for a few minutes before returning it to the stovetop at a lower heat.
Microwave your softened gelatin for about 10 seconds, until it appears syrupy. Stir it into the lemon mixture. You can do this step as you are waiting for the curd to thicken. Once the curd is thick, pour it into the strainer and press it with the back of a spoon. This will remove any leftover lemon rind or lumps in your curd. Chill the curd in the refrigerator- it will thicken more as it becomes cold. You can make the curd ahead of time and chill it until you’re ready to use it.
Combine the cream cheese, lemon oil and yellow food coloring (optional) in a large bowl and beat on medium speed until the mixture is smooth. Reduce the speed to low and gently add 1/2 cup portions of the chilled lemon curd, beating the mixture until it is thoroughly combined before you add the next portion.
In another bowl, make your whipped cream by adding the heavy cream to the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar and whipping it until it forms firm peaks. Combine increments of the whipped cream into the lemon curd mixture until all of the whipped cream is folded in.
How to Assemble the Lemon Cake Roll
Once your cake is completely cool and your filling is ready, assembling the lemon cake roll is the easy part!
- Unroll the cake and then spread a thick layer of the lemon filling evenly on top.
- Starting at a short end, gently roll the cake and scrape away any excess filling.
- Use a serrated knife to trim each end of the roll and place the cake on a serving plate with the seam side down.
- Cover the cake with plastic wrap and refrigerate it for up to two hours to make sure the cake firms up completely.
When it’s ready to serve, sift confectioner’s sugar on top and garnish with lemon slices and mint sprigs. You can also serve it with a dollop of whipped cream. The end result is a beautiful, tender, Lemon Cake Roll that is light, lemon-y and luscious!
SOME OTHER RECIPES WE ARE SURE YOU WILL LOVE:
- Make the lemon curd ahead of time and have it on-hand for anything! Our Lemon Curd recipe is tangy, sweet and similar to a citrus custard.
- Lemon and lavender make a stellar combination in this Lavender Pan Cotta with Lemon Syrup. Our spin on this timeless Italian classic “cooked cream” is rich, delicious and delicate.
- Have you ever made lobster at home? Grilled Lobster Tails with Garlic Butter Sauce is surprisingly simple to make and proof that lobster doesn’t have to be reserved for restaurants or special occasions. Turn a summer grilling night into lobster night right at home!
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For the Cake:
- 3 eggs, room temperature
- 1 cup (200 grams) sugar
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- 3 tablespoons cold water
- 1 cup (120 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup powdered sugar (to sprinkle on the cake before rolling in a towel)
For the Filling:
- 2 1/4 teaspoons (7 grams) or 1 envelope) unflavored gelatin
- 6 large egg yolks
- 1 cup sugar (200 grams), divided
- 1/4 teaspoon table salt
- 1 cup fresh lemon juice
- zest from one lemon
- 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
- Yellow food coloring (optional)
- 1/8 teaspoon pure lemon oil
- 1-1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
- Lemon slices and mint sprigs for garnish
- Extra whipped cream for serving (optional)
For the Cake:
- Preheat oven to 375°
- Line a greased 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. baking pan with parchment paper. Spray the paper with non-stick spray; set aside.
- In a large bowl, beat eggs for 3 minutes. Gradually add sugar and beat for 2 minutes or until mixture becomes thick and lemon-colored. Stir in water.
- Combine dry ingredients; fold into egg mixture. Spread batter evenly in prepared pan.
- Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 10-12 minutes or until cake springs back when lightly touched. Remove from the oven and loosen the outer edges with a knife.
- Dust the top of the cake with confectioner's sugar and place a kitchen towel over the sugar.
- Place a baking sheet or plastic cutting board over the towel and flip the cake over so the bottom of the cake is on top.
- Gently peel off the parchment paper and roll the cake in the towel jelly-roll style, starting with a short side. Cool completely on a wire rack.
For the Lemon Filling:
- Set a strainer over a bowl and keep it readily available near the stove.
- Put 1/4 cup of water into a small dish and sprinkle with the gelatin.
- In a heavy non-reactive saucepan, beat the egg yolks, 3/4 cup of the sugar and the salt together until well blended. Stir in the lemon juice and zest. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, for about 10 to 12 minutes until thickened and the mixture has a glossy appearance.
- The slower you cook the curd, the thicker it will be. Try not to let the mixture come to a boil, if it begins to boil remove it from the heat for a bit then return it to a lower heat.
- Place the softened gelatin in the microwave for 10 seconds until syrupy, then stir it into the lemon mixture.
- When the curd has thickened, pour it into the strainer and press it with the back of a spoon. Discard the lemon rind and any lumps that are left behind in the strainer. Place in the refrigerator to chill. The lemon curd will thicken more once it has chilled.
- In a large bowl, add the cream cheese, lemon oil and yellow food coloring, if using. Beat on medium speed for 2-3 minutes until smooth. Reduce the speed to low and in 1/2 cup portions add the chilled lemon curd, beating the mixture until combined before adding the next portion.
- In another mixing bowl, add the heavy cream and the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar and whip to the firm-peak stage.
- Stir 1/4 of the whipped cream into the lemon mixture, then in increments of 1/3 at a time, fold the remaining whipped cream into the lemon mixture.
To Assemble the Cake Roll:
- Unroll the cake and spread a thick layer of lemon filling evenly over cake to within 3/4-inch of edges.
- Beginning at one end, roll the cake up into a solid roll, scrape away any excess filling.
- With a serrated knife, trim each end of the roll (baker's bites) and place seam side down on a serving plate. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1-2 hours to firm up completely.
- Just before serving, sift confectioner’s sugar over the top of the cake roll and garnish with lemon slices and mint sprigs.
- Cut into 1-inch slices and garnish each serving with a dollop of whipped cream and mint sprig
When rolling the cake, parchment paper can be used in place of the towel.
Rolling the cake while it is still hot trains the shape for the roll. Let it cool completely with the towel inside.
Amount Per ServingCalories 360 Total Fat 23g Saturated Fat 12g Trans Fat 0g Unsaturated Fat 9g Cholesterol 208mg Sodium 252mg Carbohydrates 32g Net Carbohydrates 0g Fiber 1g Sugar 22g Sugar Alcohols 0g Protein 9g