Golden Buttermilk Cake with Simple Lemon Buttercream

Now that you have made White Cake and Foolproof Swiss Meringue Buttercream you are probably left with lots of egg yolks. Lucky for you I have the perfect recipe to use those babies up! I actually developed this recipe as a way to use up those left over egg yolks  but this cake is so delicious that I would even be willing to throw away the whites in order to make this treat.


This cake is beautifully moist and rich with a tender crumb.  A full eight egg yolks plus two whole eggs goes into this cake which translates into wonderful emulsification and fullness of flavor.


To compliment the flavor, which I like to describe as “sunshine,” I added a lemon buttercream variation of the Simple Silky Buttercream with flecks of lemon zest and a tart zing of fresh lemon juice.


Here are some key features of this cake:

  • Lots of egg yolks provide fat, flavor and lovely emulsification which helps distribute fat and moisture.
  • Whole eggs provide structure to this rich cake.
  • Buttermilk balances and compliments that flavor provided by the egg yolks and the acidity makes for a very tender crumb.
  • A combination of all-purpose (plain) flour and low-protein cake flour makes for a cake that is sturdy enough to hold up to fondant but fine textured and smooth.
  • Butter provides flavor and fine texture to the crumb while a touch of oil increases the moisture and lightens the cake.A-close-slice2webBake up this beauty for your own little bit of sunshine no matter what the weather.

Happy Baking!

Golden Buttermilk Cake with Simple Lemon Buttercream


  • 8 large egg yolks
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup (237 mL) buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 6 ½ ounces (184 grams) all-purpose flour- 1 1/3 cups
  • 4 ounces (113 grams) cake flour- 1 cup* (see cake flour substitution at end of recipe)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda (sodium bicarbonate)
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 10 ½ ounces (298 grams) granulated sugar-1 ½ cups
  • ¾ cup (12 tablespoons, or 6 ounces, or 170 grams) unsalted butter softened
  • ¼ cup (4 tablespoons, 60 mL) vegetable oil
  • For the Simple Lemon Buttercream:
  • 2 cups (4 sticks, 16 ounce, or 454 grams) unsalted butter softened
  • 1 container (7 ounces, or 198 grams) marshmallow crème
  • 5 ounces corn syrup
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 2-3 cups confectioner’s sugar to taste*


  1. Preheat oven to 350 F (177 C) and spray with Baker’s Joy or grease and flour two 9-inch, round cake pans.
  2. Combine egg yolks, eggs, ½ cup of buttermilk and vanilla and whisk to combine.
  3. Place dry ingredients in a mixing bowl and stir for 20 seconds to combine on low speed. Add butter, oil and ½ cup buttermilk to flour/sugar mixture and beat on medium speed for 2 minutes to lighten and develop structure.
  4. Add the egg mixture with the mixer on low speed in three additions and then for 30 seconds to blend.
  5. Pour into prepared pans and bake for about 25 minutes until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pan and then turn out to a cooling rack. Cool completely if using immediately, or wrap in two layers of plastic wrap if using later. Frost the cooled cake with Simple Lemon Buttercream or your buttercream of choice. Enjoy!
  6. *Cake flour substitute: Use 100 grams all-purpose plain flour and 15 grams cornstarch or potato starch in place of cake flour.
  7. For the Simple Lemon Buttercream:
  8. Place the butter in the bowl of a mixer and blend on low with the flat beater for a few seconds to coat the bowl and beater. Add the marshmallow cream, corn syrup, lemon juice, lemon zest and confectioner’s sugar; beat on medium high for 2 minutes until smooth and fluffy.
  9. Use immediately or store at room temperature for 2 days, in the refrigerator, tightly sealed, for 2 weeks or in the freezer for 2 months.
  10. *2 cups of confectioner’s sugar will yield a mildly sweet buttercream but if you like it sweeter increase the confectioner’s sugar to taste.








57 thoughts on “Golden Buttermilk Cake with Simple Lemon Buttercream”

  1. Aaaaah you’re spoiling me with yet another recipe. I just did your delicious mudcake yesterday and still have the coconut and white cake on my definitely-to-do-list and now I will add this one too, it sounds too yummy :D. It makes my choice where to start quite difficult ;).
    I love your blog and your scientific approach to your recipes, probably cos I’m a scientist as well ;).
    Have a gorgeous day Summer, greetings from Switzerland,

    1. Thank you Kathrin! I have three more vanilla cakes to share this week too! I am going to have to go on cake detox after it all but the ride will be delicious 🙂 Some of my all-time favorites are coming up so stay tuned. Smiles!

  2. Thank you so much for sharing your recipes they look delicious! How do you store your leftover egg whites or yolks and how long for?

    1. I store egg whites or yolks for up to three days in a sealed container in the refrigerator. For the yolks I usually add a teaspoon of sugar or a pinch of salt for every few yolks since they tend to clump and thicken excessively without it. You can also freeze them (still adding the sugar/salt to the yolks) for a few weeks if needed.

  3. regarding the marsh mallow creme can you use melted marsh mallows? marshmallow creme is not readily available in Australia

    1. Marshmallows generally don’t contain egg whites but gelatin as their structure base. And they get softer when melted. I think you could try it but I am not sure how the results would come out and if you want stability in your hot conditions I don’t know if this is the way to go. If you want to give this recipe a go I would seek a marshmallow crème source. I know there are options it Australia but you may have to order it. Another option would be to make marshmallow crème but I don’t know if it would be worth the effort. Sorry 🙁 I will continue to explore options for those that don’t have easy access to this ingredient.

  4. I have just come across your blog, Summer, and am so happy I have! Can’t wait to try your delicious recipes! Thanks for sharing.

  5. I love these new cake recipes…I teach baking at a culinary program in Tennessee. I love the explainations of why you use certain ingredients! I will definately use some of these recipes for my class and of course, at home too!

      1. Summer, all of your science “mumbo jumbo” is welcome! I’ve been baking for years, but don’t know a lot of the science of baking. I appreciate learning and it’s very helpful! Glad I recently discovered your blog!
        I have a question….and I know that you’ll be sharing 3 more vanilla cakes, but is there one in particular that would be the best for a wedding cake? I’m thinking about both the taste and texture….stacking, etc. Thanks so much for sharing with us!

        1. Hi Joann! I think your best bet would be the All-In Vanilla Cake or the Sour Cream Vanilla Bean Cake. Those will be the last two that I post. Sorry for the suspense!

  6. I would love to make this but don’t have a scale – could you give flour measurements in cups, please?

    1. Yes! I will add them in asap. I usually try add all options but in my late night delirium I forgot. Thanks for the reminder 😉

  7. Hi Summer!
    All of this white cake experimenting reminds me of the chocolate cake tasting we did. Sugar rush!!! Thanks so much for taking time to ‘splain everything so very well. I’m surprised that this cake appears to be as white as the previous cake with all of those yolks. I’m constantly in search of really bright white cakes so I’ll have to give them a side-by-side testing to see how they work out.
    Congrats on the huge success of your site!

    1. Thanks Deborah! Yes, I often think back to our chocolate cake tasting. Side by side is really the only way to see how they match up. This cake is really more yellow than it appears here but the photos bleach it out a little. You can also skip the whole eggs and add 2-3 more yolks for a more yellow cake.
      I love seeing you around the cyber world! Blessings to you 🙂

  8. Aggghh, I wish I had more hours in the day so I can try ALL your recepiessss!!!! they all sound soooo delicious and perfect!! Your blog has become my favorite!!! —-Thanks a million for sharing with us Summer—you rock!!!!! 🙂

  9. Hi Summer. This sounds delicious as does your white cake recipe. Thanks for including all the metric conversions too! I just wondered if you’ve tried using the substitutes for cake flour yourself at all? (Maybe not seeing as it’s readily available to you in the US, but I know you like to experiment!) I can’t get cake flour in the UK so previously tried a substituting it with plain flour and corn flour (corn starch) in a red velvet cake recipe in the same ratio you’ve said. The cake was aweful! It had a really stodgy texture and tasted horrible – it went in the bin! Maybe it wasn’t due to the cake flour substitute, but I thought I’d check before I give this and the white cake a try! 🙂

    1. I have not used cornstarch and flour as a substitute in all of these recipes but have in others and have had success. Also when I was testing gluten-free flours I made cupcakes with solely cornstarch, or potato starch (among many others!) and they made cupcakes that were quite nice on their own. I prefer the potato starch as it is silkier and more neutral in flavor. The amount listed is the proportion given by America’s Test Kitchens for subbing for cake flour and they test extensively so I recommend these amounts without reservations. Good luck!

  10. Hi, can you tell me if marshmallow creme is the same as marshmallow fluff….I live in the uk and these things are not always easy to come by. Many thanks

  11. Hi Summer, here’s my review as mentioned 😉 I also baked this cake (the entire amount of batter) in a 3″ high 6 inch cake pan,it stayed in the oven for about an hour and rose beautifully. I usually bake with flower nails and wet newspaper around the tins and it worked just fine.

    The cake, when it first came out of the oven, tasted too eggy to me – but once it had cooled down it was really nice. I loved the rich consistency, this is a really delicious cake. I loved the yellow color and the fact that I could just use the yolks from the white cake recipe. But again I missed a more intense vanilla flavour. (I think I’m a vanilla girl! ;)) Maybe I’m using the wrong extract?

    Unfortunately I don’t have any marshmallow creme readily available here so I just made regular buttercream. It sounds amazing though! I will try your marshmallow buttercream next.

    Keep caking and thank you for your incredible efforts. Who gets to eat all your cakes? 🙂
    Cake hugs from Switzerland, Minh

    1. Hi Minh! Yes the cake flavor settles and mellows as it cools and rests. As far as the vanilla is concerned, you can increase the amount to your taste. Double or even triple it! I usually put so much vanilla in my buttercream that excessive vanilla in my cake is not noticeable. Here are some things to keep in mind with vanilla too; most of the flavor components of vanilla are highly volatile so much of the flavor or aroma is lost during baking. Since you are baking tall and long this is probably even more exacerbated. If you smell vanilla while you are baking that means it is out of your cake and into your nose 😉 I usually use a combination of vanillas to combat this. Vanillin is a natural component of vanilla that is found in small concentrations in vanilla extract. This aromatic molecule is less susceptible to heat and stays in the cake. You can boost vanilla flavor by using a portion of vanillin (from imitation vanilla extract). Imitation vanilla uses wood pulp to generate quantities of straight vanillin like that found in natural vanilla. So vanillin itself is not a bad thing. If the thought of using imitation vanilla is unappealing to you I would consider using vanilla bean paste for half of your vanilla component. The vanilla beans offer a sort of time-released vanilla flavor and since they have a solid form, their flavors are less likely to bake off. I hope this helps! And yes, try the Marshmallow Buttercream. It is delicious!

      1. Hi Summer! Wow, thanks for that extensive reply. I love all that science behin the baking! I did use imitation extract exclusively, but will definitely try using vanilla beans along with my extract next time. Thank you so much! I’ll be back as soon as I’ve tried some more recipes of yours. You rock! Thank you so much!

  12. Hi. I love your blog. Everything looks amazingly scrumptious. I have a question regarding the measurements of your ingredients. For example, the recipe calls for 6 1/2 oz of flour or 11/3 cups. However just 1 cup of flour is the equivalent of 8 oz. Can you clarify? Thanks!

    1. The measurements that I use have all-purpose flour at 5 ounces per cup and cake flour at 4 ounces per cup. I also go by granulated sugar at 7 ounces per cup. Are you using American cups?

  13. Thank you for your reply Summer. I’m from Canada but don’t think that there’s a difference with American cups. Just curious though but how come the different ingredients have different amount of ounces per cup? Shouldn’t there be the same amount of ounces (8) per cup regardless of the ingredient (flour, cake flour or sugar). I thought there were always 8 ounces in a cup. Sorry. Don’t know if this making sense. I just want to make sure I understand before I attempt the recipe. Thank you for sharing!

    1. All cups are 8 ounces by volume but because of different densities they vary by ounces in weight. That is the trick with ounces, you have to decipher whether it is ounces by weight or ounces by volume. One cup of water is 8 ounces by weight or by volume but most other things differ. Metric is so much easier to tell because it is clear if it is weight (grams) vs. volume (milliliters). In my recipes liquids are measured by ounces in volume, aka liquid measure (unless otherwise noted) and dry ingredients are in weight if given in ounces. Any dry weight measurements by volume are given in cups. I hope that is not too confusing. It makes it seems very convoluted when I write it all out 🙂

  14. The cake is delicious, but the lemon buttercream is so so good!!! I left the corn syrup out (as you suggested) and I only used about half of the confectioner’s sugar and it was perfect. That’s my new favorite frosting!! Thank you, Summer!

    1. I just wanted to let you know that this cake is my new “what-to-do-with-leftover-egg yolks”-cake. Everybody loves its taste!
      Thank you again!

  15. I am thinking of making this cake in layers, because I am going to have many yolks from a SMB I will be making later in the week. Can I freeze the layers? How? It is something I have never done before and I am afraid that I will end up throwing away more ingredients than just the yolks. How do you thaw them? Does the fluffiness remain? It is rather frustrating… Anyway, I would really appreciate any info on this!

    1. Hi Louise, I freeze cakes all the time, no need to worry. I wrap them in three layers of plastic wrap. You can wrap them while they are still a bit warm or when they are fully cooled to room temperature. Then freeze them on a flat surface. I will place cardboard rounds in between the layers if I am short on space. To thaw, just place them wrapped at room temperature until they are the consistency you like to work with. The tops may be a bit sticky when you remove the plastic but it will cause no harm. Sometimes the consistency changes ever so slightly. For many people it is appealing and they freeze their cakes even when time is not a dictator. It may seem slightly more moist but not really much more dense. I think the moisture sort of distributes out. This cake freezes very well and I have held it for more than a month in the freezer. Good luck with this! Let me know if you have any more questions! 🙂

        1. I have 3 layers in the freezer, waiting for my next project. I have already tasted it. When I bake anything, I always make a mini version. In this case cupcakes. I ate one warm and one cool. Very very good!! Thank you!

    1. I imagine it would but I have not tried it. If I were going to do it I would mix everything holding out 2/3 cup of flour. Divide the batter in half adding 1/3 cup flour to one half and 1/3 cup cocoa to the other plus an extra 1 tablespoon of buttermilk. Mix up each well and marble in the pan. Good luck! Let me know if you give it a try! 🙂

      1. Thank you so much! Ms. Summer for your reply. I’m going to try it for a baby shower cake, I’m making next weekend! Will let you know!

  16. Made this cake the other day, using the flavor profile of the Orange Cake with Passionfruit Buttercream (did not include the orange juice in the cake, just lots of zest and orange oil). So delicious! Now I’m no longer averse to yellow cake. : )

  17. When i took the baked cake out of the oven it looked fine. I left it to cool for 10 minutes and when i came back is had shrunk to about 1 inch. I thought i followed the recipe exactly so am at a loss as to what happened. Any thoughts??

    1. Bummer! That’s the worst. This cake is very rich, aka struturally on the weak end of cakes. Any number of variations (flour brand differences, varied room temperatures etc) can cause additional structure problems. You can give yourself some insurance by swapping an egg white for a yolk or two or adding a couple of tablespoons of flour. Also see The Big Bang post. This method can help reduce cake shrinking too. Good luck!

  18. Hi Summer, this cake sounds wonderful, especially now that Spring has finally “Sprung”. Wondering if dried Blueberries (I like dry vs fresh, easier to work with and always on hand) could work with this cake?? How about Reverse Cream method?? Thanks for all this wonderful information. I never knew science could be so much fun until I started baking. 🙂

  19. Hi Summer, hurried when I read instructions the first time. It does appear that RESERVE CREAM is the method of incorporation dry ingredients, correct? Very interested in knowing if you think adding (2-cups) dried Blueberries is something you think would work. ?? Thinking I will also “divi” up Vanilla Extract with a portion of Lemon Extract to pique taste bud. Your thoughts? Thank you again for gorgeous recipe and taking time to answer my questions. 🙂 Lisa G.

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