Lemon Cake Roll is a delicious, lemony sponge cake filled with a sweet cream. This gorgeous, tasty dessert is super easy to make and perfect for spring!
What do you get when you cross my Chocolate Cake Roll and my popular Easy Lemon Bars? A tasty Easter dessert that is sure to impress. It’s another delicious, easy Cake Recipe that your family will love.
LEMON CAKE ROLL
This may come as a surprise, but late winter to early summer is actually the peak season for most citrus. It makes sense in a way, who doesn’t love a burst of sunshine-y fruit like lemons and oranges just when you are tired of the gloomy, cold months.
Tangy, tart lemons are usually available year round most places but right now they are hitting their peak in flavor. Naturally that means it’s the best time to roll out (har-har) this Lemon Cake Roll. Bad puns aside, I’m so excited to share this cake recipe with you.
Rolled cakes might seem intimidating, but they really aren’t that stressful unless you are a contestant on the Great British Bake Off. No elaborate designs or daring flavor combinations in this recipe, just good old fashioned lemon sponge cake filled with a tart yet sweet lemon filling. (Just in case, I did include some tips below to avoid any rolled cake disasters.)
I used standard lemons in this Lemon Roll Cake, usually a Lisbon or Eureka variety, although most stores just label them “lemons”. If you are making this cake during January or February, you should try Meyer Lemons. These smaller, lemon-mandarin orange hybrids are less tart and much sweeter, especially this time of year.
Whichever lemons you use, this is a great cake to enjoy the height of citrus season. It’s a gorgeous dessert to serve at any Easter brunch or dinner. Make it even more impressive with a sweet icing glaze and fresh berries, or by dusting powdered sugar over stencils for a quick, beautiful design.
Tips for rolling a cake:
- Parchment paper is your best friend for this cake. Grease some to bake the cake on and then you will use it later to pre-roll your cake.
- Remove your cake from the pan immediately after it comes out of the oven. I like to flip mine onto a tea towel dusted with powdered sugar.
- Roll your cake in parchment paper about 5 minutes after it comes out of the oven. This step is crucial to making it easier to roll the cake with filling after it’s cooled.
- Make sure to roll the cake from the same side each time to avoid breakage.
- Use a tea towel to help roll your cake with the filling, it will keep the outside from getting messed up.
MORE BEAUTIFUL, TASTY CAKES FOR EASTER
HOW TO MAKE A LEMON CAKE ROLL
- Bake Your Cake: You’re going to bake your cake in a jelly roll pan on parchment paper.
- Roll While Warm: Roll the cake while warm and let it sit rolled up while it cools.
- Make Frosting: Make your frosting for the inside and unroll carefully to frost then roll back up.
- Make Icing: Make your easy powdered sugar icing but thin with lemon juice. If this is too tart use half lemon juice half water.
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VARIATIONS ON LEMON CAKE ROLL
- Lemon Curd: Punch up the lemony flavor by making the regular lemon filling in this recipe and then spreading a thin layer of my super easy Lemon Curd on top before rolling.
- Cream Cheese: Mix some softened cream cheese into the filling mixture to tone down the sweetness. Top with Cream Cheese Frosting and decorate with fresh berries or candied lemon peels.
- Coconut: Give this cake a bit of a tropical taste by sprinkling coconut shreds onto the lemon filling before rolling. Toast some shredded coconut to garnish the top of the cake.
- Raspberry Buttercream: Raspberries and lemon are a classic flavor combination that tastes absolutely divine. Mix a ½ cup of raspberry (recipe below) with 1 cup of Buttercream Frosting. Use in place of the sweet cream to fill your cake.
How to make Raspberry Curd:
Ingredients: ½ cup lemon juice, 2 tsp lemon zest, ¾ cup granulated sugar, 3 eggs, 8 tbsp cold unsalted butter (cut into cubes), 1 cup raspberries
- Puree the raspberries in a blender. Strain seeds out through a sieve.
- In a medium saucepan, whisk together the raspberries, lemon juice, lemon zest, sugar, and eggs until combined.
- Reduce heat to low and keep stirring the mixture constantly with a wooden spoon for 1 minute.
- Add in the butter and stir constantly for a total of 5-7 minutes. Curd should be thick enough that it sticks to the back of spoon.
- Strain curd through a sieve into a glass bowl. Cover with a plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
DELICIOUS FRUIT DESSERTS:
HOW TO STORE A LEMON CAKE ROLL
- Serve: Your cake is okay at room temperature for up to 2 hours.
- Store: Keep your Lemon Cake in the refrigerator for up to 3 days in a sealed container.
- Freeze: Cool cake completely before wrapping in plastic wrap. Freeze in an airtight container for up to 3 months.
- 3 large eggs
- 1 cup sugar
- 3 tablespoons cold water
- 1 cup flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup unsalted butter , softened
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
Lemon Curd Filling: (Optional)
- 1 cup sugar
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 1 large egg , lightly beaten
- 3/4 cup water
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon whole milk , or more as needed to thin
- 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Beat eggs in a mixing bowl for 3 minutes.
- Add sugar gradually to eggs while mixing. Beat for an additional 2 minutes or until mixture becomes thick.
- Mix in the 3 tablespoons water, 1 cup flour, baking powder, and salt.
- Line a 15 inch by 10 inch baking pan with parchment paper and grease well.
- Pour the batter into the pan and spread evenly.
- Bake for 12-14 minutes, or until cake springs back when lightly touched.
- While the cake is still warm, roll the parchment paper into a roll and let cool in the roll shape.
- Clean your stand mixer and while the cake is baking add the butter and powdered sugar on low speed until just combined.
For Lemon Curd Filling: (Optional)
- In a small saucepan, combine the sugar, flour, egg, water and lemon juice.
- Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture comes to a boil.
- Cook and stir for 1 minute or until thickened. Remove from the heat; cool to room temperature.
To Fill Cake:
- Unroll cake.
- Spread filling (if using curd too add buttercream first) evenly over cake to within 1" of edges. Roll up again starting from the same short side.
- Place seam side down on a serving platter. Cover and refrigerate for 1-2 hours.
- Mix the powdered sugar, milk, lemon juice and lemon zest until you have a thick but pourable consistency, adding up to an additional tablespoon of lemon juice if needed.
- Pour the glaze over the lemon roll.
This lemon cake was incredibly delicious and delightful! The sweet cream is a winner!
This was amazing and my son absolutely loved it. He just loves lemon-flavored deserts and this has been one of his favorites.
This gorgeous dessert tasted so fresh and delicious! The lemon and raspberry combination is perfection. I’d never made a rolled cake before, but this one will be made over and over again!
I would thicken the curd mixture more by using 2 eggs corn starch and tempering. Flavor is excellent. I followed directions and completely cooled filling but still not right.
That’s definitely another method you could use; the filling is supposed to boil until it’s the right consistency but you could speed it up by adding corn starch.
I have found my go to lemon roll recipe! Best one I have done so far!
Don’t you think it’s a little strange that all of the photos for this recipe are of a different cake?
Hi Martin, yep, there was an error here when written. I’d written it with curd but ended up redoing recipe with buttercream.
Thanks for reminding me I needed to adjust this, I meant to do it and completely spaced, but now I’m thinking I can redo it altogether using both buttercream and the curd.
But also going to fix it quickly for now by adding in the buttercream. Thanks again!
The roll turned out good. The filling was good to. But I am absolutely %100 disappointed in the glaze recipe for the top. I followed it exactly like it says, and my icing turned out horrible. It was so hard and way to thick. My mother had to pick the icing off of her cake roll just to slice it. Could someone explain the measurements for me? It turned out awful.
I’m glad you enjoyed the roll but it does sound like the consistency for your glaze was off. Try adding more lemon juice to thin it out more to your liking next time. Hope this helps.
Should the eggs for the cake be separated? Seems like a long time to mix whole eggs. The cake was rather tough.
If the cake was tough, that would be from over mixing once the flour was added. This recipe calls for whole eggs. Hope it’s better the next time.
Could the lemon curd as well as the buttercream be made in advance and refrigerated? I am really wanting to try and make this for a lemon-loving friend!
I just tried making the raspberry curd to fill the jelly roll cake with, but it didn’t seem to come together , even after stirring it constantly for over 15 minutes on low heat. I looked at your filling recipe and noticed that there was flour added to that lemon curd, is there supposed to be flour in the raspberry curd as well perhaps? I followed the recipe exactly and it didn’t thicken up like the filling did. Thank you for the clarification.
Hi! Sorry there is some confusion. If your buttercream didn’t stiffen up like it was supposed to, you can add powdered sugar in a tablespoon or two at a time. Don’t add this too fast, because you can go in the opposite direction if you add too much powdered sugar. You can also add a tablespoon of cornstarch to help thicken it.
I’m a tad confused about rolling the cake while it’s still warm. Won’t the unrolling in order to ice it just end up breaking the cake anyhow?
It won’t unroll flat but you’ll be able to be able to spread the filling over it without breaking it. I hope you decide to give it a try.
This looks delicious but I don’t see any lemon flavoring in the cake batter. Is this supposed to be a plain cake with lemon filling? Could I add vanilla?
I am so sorry, I am just seeing this tonight. I am sure the recipe has long been cooked/or not but I still want to try to help.
Yes, it’s supposed to be a plain cake with a lot of lemon flavor in the frosting and glaze. I haven’t tested vanilla in the cake but vanilla and lemon can pair well together with the right balance. Let us know how it worked out!
I added a Splash of vanilla and lemon zest since I had extra from my curd and it was delicious! I love this roll recipe ( i have tried many) and this will be my go to recipe from now on.
The picture looks like it has a layer of jam or something too, which looks pretty and imagine would taste good, but the recipe doesn’t seem to include anything like that. Could you explain what the red layer is? Thanks!
It’s not a red layer. My cake was a little darker on the bottom so when it was rolled, that’s what you’re seeing… though a layer of jam sounds amazing too!
Lemon Sponge Cake filled with a sweet cream – I followed the recipe for the filling and it is not butter, this recipe is for a lemon curd filling – where is the sweet butter filling recipe? I thought I was making what is portrayed in the image, now I have a large pot of lemon curd.
Sorry for the delay. Your comment was caught in my spam filter. I’ve edited the recipe to read correctly now. Thanks for catching that.
Hello I saw that someone else mentioning that the filling is not butter cream but lemon curd. I see that in the comments you were going to edit your recipe but I’m not seeing the buttercream recipe. Could you please send me the recipe for the butter cream sponge lemony sponge cake? And will the cake batter have lemon itself with the filling?
Hi! The buttercream frosting recipe was a clickable link. Here is it https://dinnerthendessert.com/classic-buttercream-frosting/
I added a layer of lemon curd! OMG!! I almost ate the whole cake!
It’s definitely hard to stop once you start. So glad you enjoyed it.
Wonderful cake! Moist and delicious. I used the raspberry buttercream variation. Wonderful flavor combination!
This was absolutely amazing! I can’t wait to try it with a strawberry filling!
It might be hard picking a favorite.
This sounds great, but you only bake the cake for 12 – 14 minutes??? Thanks
Yes, it’s a very thin cake so it doesn’t take much time to bake. I hope you enjoy it!