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Tablespoon Italian Lemon Cake

This Italian Cake is a delicious moist Lemon Cake, originally made with a tablespoon to measure all the ingredients. It’s fast and easy and so good. The perfect breakfast, snack or even dessert Cake Recipe.

Lemon cake on a cake stand with a slice on a black plate.


 

Give me a tablespoon and I will give you a Cake! A delicious moist Lemon Cake at that.

I first tried this cake a little while ago at a friend’s house. It was delicious and of course I asked for the recipe. And as it turned out this was another one of those you-gotta-love “Italian Desserts” recipes.

This Tablespoon Lemon Cake was along the same lines as my Easy Yogurt Cake that was given to me in yogurt cup measurements! But this cake is actually called  Torta dei Cucchiai / Tablespoon Cake.

Recipe Ingredients

  • Flour – either all purpose or cake/pastry flour
  • Baking powder – be sure it hasn’t expired
  • Sugar – granulated
  • Eggs – large and room temperature
  • Lemon – zest and juice
  • Vegetable Oil – I use corn or sunflower oil although I am sure a light olive oil would also work.
  • Milk – either whole or 2% milk
  • Powder/Icing Sugar – for dusting the cooled cake
Cake dusted with powdered sugar on a white plate.

How to make Pastry/Cake flour

For every cup of all purpose flour, remove two tablespoons and replace with two tablespoons of corn starch. Be sure to sift the flour and cornstarch together a couple of times, this way it is sure to be properly combined and lump free. Cake flour in cakes will give you a very tender texture and fine crumb, it will also help the cake to rise.

How to Make a Lemon Cake

  • Pre-heat oven to 350F (180C), grease and flour an 8 or 9 inch cake (20-23 cm)
  • In a small bowl whisk together the flour and baking powder.
  • In a large bowl beat on low to medium speed (low is best but no higher then medium speed) sugar and eggs until very fluffy and light. Approximately 5 minutes.
  • Then add the zest, juice, oil and milk, beat until combined. Then add the flour mixture and beat on low speed until smooth.
  • Pour into prepared cake pan and bake for approximately 40 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Let cool in pan then remove to a cake plate.
  • Let cool completely before dusting with powdered / icing sugar. 
lemon cake how to make beaten and in the pan to bake

If you have noticed Italians are not big on lots of creams or frostings. A simple dusting of powder sugar is all that is needed on most desserts. Although if you do want to fancy it up a bit for a dinner dessert you could add a scoop of ice cream or top it with this tasty Blueberry Sauce. Lemon and blueberry are a perfect combination!

Why bake with room temperature ingredients?

With cakes and other baking, it’s always better to use room temperature ingredients. So, take any cold ingredients out of the refrigerator an hour ahead of time or sooner if it’s cool in your kitchen. Room temperature ingredients blend easier, creating a silky batter, which will help to create a light tender baked good.

Cake on a white plate.

How to check if baking powder is still good

Place 1/2 teaspoon of powder in a small bowl, pour 1/4 cup of boiling water over it. It should bubble up immediately and very strongly, if it does it’s still good, if it doesn’t, time to buy a new tin.

What baking pans can I use for this Cake?

Be sure to grease and flour the pans very well especially a bundt pan, if it is a fancy one it will need extra attention so you get every crease.

  1. An 8 inch or 9 inch  round cake pan.
  2. An 8 or 9 inch bundt pan.
  3. An 8 x 8 x 1 1/2 inch (20 x 20 x 4 cm) square pan.
  4. A 9 inch Loaf pan.

Tips for making this Lemon Cake a success

When I received comments from readers who have tried this cake and it rose and then when it came out of the oven it sank, I really wanted to discover why this was happening. So …

I decided to make it changing up my beating speed. I started out beating the eggs and sugar on low speed but then turned up to medium high. I continued to beat the ingredients going from medium to medium high.

And yes the cake rose and then sank almost immediately once it was out of the oven.

I then made the cake again, this time beating the whole time on low speed (speed #1) and the cake came out perfect. So remember beat on low speed, and the eggs and sugar must be beaten at least 5-7 minutes. All ingredients should be room temperature.

If you are having trouble with this cake, a reader mentioned beating the flour into the mixture by hand instead of with a mixer. A whisk or spatula would work for this.

Never open the oven while the cake is baking before 30 minutes has passed, opening an oven door early can cause a cake to fall.

Bake the cake as soon as the batter has been mixed and poured into the pan, don’t let it stand around, this can also cause the cake to flatten.

Lemon cake being dusted with powdered sugar.

How to adjust the recipe for high altitude

  • Decrease baking powder by 1/8 teaspoon
  • Decrease sugar by 1/2 tablespoon
  • Increased both oil and milk by 1 tablespoon each
  • And increase the temperature to 375F. Thanks to Linda for writing in and letting me know.

The difference between lemon juice and zest

I use both lemon juice and lemon zest in this recipe. Some insist that the zest has more lemon flavour than the juice. The zest is the oil of the lemon and is therefore filled with the pure lemon flavour.

The juice holds the acidic tart taste of the lemon. Just be sure to grate only the yellow part of the lemon and no white part. The white part will add only bitterness. And you don’t want that!

How to store the baked cake

Store the cooled baked cake at room temperate either wrapped in plastic or in a covered cake container. It will keep for up to 4 days at room temperature. You can also store the cake in the fridge, just be sure to make it airtight or it will dry out, it will keep for up to 5 days in the fridge, bring it to room temperature before serving.

How to freeze the cake

Once the cake is completely cooled, double wrap it with either foil or plastic wrap and then place in a freezer safe bag. It will keep in the freezer for up to 3 months. Let the cake thaw overnight on the counter before serving.

So if you are looking to make an Italian cake then I hope you try this Lemon Cake recipe and be sure to let me know what you. Enjoy!

A slice of lemon cake on a black plate with a fork.

More Delicious Lemon Dessert Recipes

Lemon cake on a cake stand.

Tablespoon Italian Lemon Cake

Rosemary Molloy
Italian Lemon Cake a delicious moist Cake, and all you need is a tablespoon for measurement.  Fast and Easy and so good. The perfect Breakfast, Snack or Dessert Cake Recipe.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Course Breakfast, Dessert, Snack
Cuisine Italian
Servings 8 slices
Calories 286 kcal

Ingredients
 
 

  • 24 tablespoons all purpose flour (1 ½ cups)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 16 tablespoons sugar (1 cup)
  • 2 large eggs*
  • zest one lemon*
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice*
  • 10 tablespoons vegetable oil (your choice I use corn or sunflower oil) (½ cup + 2 tablespoons)
  • 10 tablespoons milk* (½ cup + 2 tablespoons)

EXTRAS

  • 2-3 tablespoons Icing/powdered sugar for dusting finished cooled cake

*Room temperature, remove from the fridge 45-60 minutes before using.

    Instructions
     

    • Pre-heat oven to 350F (180C), grease and flour an 8 or 9 inch round cake pan (20-23 cm).
    • In a small bowl whisk together the flour and baking powder.
    • In a large bowl beat on low speed sugar and eggs until very fluffy and light.  Approximately 5 minutes.
    • Then add the zest, juice, oil and milk, beat until combined on low speed. Then add the flour mixture and beat on low speed until smooth.
    • Pour into prepared cake pan and bake for approximately 40 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.  Let cool in pan then remove to a cake plate.
    • Let cool completely before dusting with powdered / icing sugar.  Enjoy!

    **All tablespoons (and teaspoon) are level not heaping.

      Notes

      Eggs and sugar should be beaten on low speed, never on high speed. When adding the flour mix on low speed.
      If you are having trouble with this cake, a reader mentioned beating the flour into the mixture by hand instead of with a mixer. A whisk or spatula would work for this.
      Store the cooled baked cake at room temperate either wrapped in plastic or in a covered cake container. It will keep for up to 4 days at room temperature. You can also store the cake in the fridge, just be sure to make it airtight or it will dry out, it will keep for up to 5 days in the fridge, bring it to room temperature before serving.
      Freeze the cake once it is completely cooled, double wrap it with either foil or plastic wrap and then place in a freezer safe bag. It will keep in the freezer for up to 3 months. Let the cake thaw overnight on the counter before serving.

      Nutrition

      Calories: 286kcal | Carbohydrates: 27g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 14g | Cholesterol: 42mg | Sodium: 24mg | Potassium: 102mg | Sugar: 18g | Vitamin A: 90IU | Vitamin C: 1.5mg | Calcium: 51mg | Iron: 0.8mg
      Did You Make This Recipe?Please leave a comment below or pin it to your Pinterest account!

      Updated from May 30, 2018.

      406 Comments

      1. This looks amazing! If I want to make this as a Bundt cake like the picture is it 1X, 2X or 3X the recipe ingredients?

      2. I want to double the recipe for a larger cake. When I selected 2X all the ingredients were doubled except the flour?? Is this correct? Should it be
        1 1/2 cups and not 3 cups flour for doubling the recipe? I wanted to know before I tried the recipe. Thanks

        1. Hi Kathy, no the 3 cups won’t multiply because it’s in brackets but if you notice the tablespoons do multiply, but yes it should be 3 cups. Hope that helps. Take care!

      3. I love your Tablespoon Italian Lemon Cake recipe. It is a quick easy recipe that results in a moist cake, has a lemon flavor that is just right with a light texture. My husband loves it! I will definitely bake this again!

      4. I made this recipe; it turned out quite well; moist and flavourful; i baked it around 60 min; as always i am afraid of undercooked cakes. The only thing which i noticed was the point that the cake started becoming smaller at the end of baking time. I guess this is normal as lemon cake is high in acidity; tight? In fact this happened to my other lemon cake recipes too.

        Meantime, the cake is wuite sweet to my taste; can i cut the sugar one third out of the recipe?

      5. Hi dear; thanks for the recipe; i made this recipe; that came out nice; just became a bit smaller ( but not deflated) later at the end of baking time. I guess this is normal as lemon cake is high in acidity. Am i right?

        Meantime, that was quite sweet to my taste; is it ok if i cut the sugar for one third?

      6. I made this recipe today using Gluten Free flour and it turned out perfectly. It’s moist and delicious. The only change I made is that increased the baking powder to 1 /1/2 teaspoons. I baked it for 40 minutes and it was perfect.

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