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Lemon-Rosemary Layer Cake

Tall and impressive, this unique dessert is a treat for the senses with flecks of lemon zest and fresh rosemary. Just wait till you taste it! —Mary Fraser, Surprise, Arizona
  • Total Time
    Prep: 20 min. Bake: 25 min. + cooling
  • Makes
    16 servings


  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 2-1/2 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon plus 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1-1/2 cups sour cream
  • 6 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 3 teaspoons grated lemon zest
  • 3 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary
  • 2 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
  • 8-1/4 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 3 teaspoons grated lemon zest
  • 2-1/4 teaspoons lemon juice


  • In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and yolk, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda; add to the creamed mixture alternately with sour cream, beating well after each addition. Beat in the lemon juice, zest and rosemary.
  • Transfer to three greased and floured 9-in. round baking pans. Bake at 350° until edges begin to brown, 25-30 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely.
  • For frosting, in a large bowl, beat cream cheese until fluffy. Add the confectioners’ sugar, lemon zest and juice; beat until smooth.
  • Spread frosting between layers and over top and sides of cake. Refrigerate leftovers.
Nutrition Facts
1 slice: 756 calories, 28g fat (17g saturated fat), 146mg cholesterol, 527mg sodium, 119g carbohydrate (90g sugars, 1g fiber), 8g protein.

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Average Rating:
  • rmbarr059
    Sep 26, 2016

    I just love this cake! I've made it twice now. A little time-consuming with grating all the lemons, but totally worth it. It is a very dense cake, but that is what contributes to how delicious it is. The second time I made it, my oven was having issues and totally burned the cake and it still tasted delicious-- wasn't even dry much to my surprise!

  • ddmyers83
    Sep 4, 2016

    I used this recipe to make our daughter's wedding cake. The cake was moist, delicious and even impressed the cater!

  • pamsterhamster
    Aug 21, 2014

    Made this for a friends birthday & it was wonderful.

  • ehlertn
    Aug 8, 2014

    Because the frosting recipe was not enough for the cake (even in the picture) I gave the recipe 4-stars. Otherwise, I would have rated this recipe at 6 stars!I made this cake for my mom's 70th birthday in March. It was elegant and the flavors were fabulous! I ALWAYS use Softasilk flour for my cakes and NEVER all purpose. The crumb turns out more delicate with Softasilk and the cake lighter. I poured and baked only two layers, and sliced each into two layers so that I had a four layer cake instead of three. Unfortunately, I followed one person's advice below (to add lemon curd between the layers) and would NOT recommend this at layers slid in the fridge and I had to do some last-minute cake rescue to fix it (which was very nerve-wracking)! I also needed more frosting--probably because I made an extra layer--and combined the given frosting recipe with a classic butter cream recipe. This made the original frosting turn out lighter and fluffier than what was originally given. I liked the presentation of this cake with the fluffier frosting.

  • lizzitish
    May 21, 2014

    For those of you complaining that this cake was too dense, my advice to you is beat, beat, beat. When they say beat well after each addition, they mean it. This pumps volume via the eggs. My cake was light and airy and I beat the heck out of it. A simply fabulous cake and well worth the effort.

  • nla4999
    Mar 30, 2014

    This cake was easy to make and when I filled the layers with lemon curd it came out really good. This is being added to my spring recipes.

  • AudreyMcWills
    Mar 24, 2014

    I wanted to make this cake for a family dinner, but decided to try it out first. This was the heaviest, most dense cake I have ever made. I took half to the office to let co-workers rate. Most thought it was just "ok". I stored the rest in the fridge overnight and by the next day is so heavy and even hard to cut through, that I threw the rest out. The simple icing hardened as well and had no creaminess to it all. And even after doubling the rosemary, you could hardly detect the taste. I won't make this again.

  • jkjk
    Mar 15, 2014

    I made this cake for a baby shower at work, and it was a hit. Reviews said it was easy to make, but I found it to be a bit labor intensive, but not difficult. I would definitely add more rosemary AND more lemon next time. I felt that most of the flavor came from the frosting alone -- and I added A LOT more lemon to the frosting than was in the recipe. The cake has a very heavy texture--and the cake as a whole is very heavy! It weighed over four pounds once frosted! Nevertheless, it was delicious and I will definitely make this recipe again -- and again -- and again!

  • Boxermom8
    Mar 10, 2014

    This cake deserves rave reviews. Simple to make, turns out just like it looks in the photo, and tastes fantastic. It would be fun to make two layers and the rest bake up as cupcakes just for kicks!

  • MissKarla
    Mar 9, 2014

    A nice bright cake. I split 2 of the cakes in half and made a four layer cake with lemon curd spread on 1 layer. Very good. The other cake I left whole and made a thin lemon glaze with just lemon juice and powdered sugar and poured over the top. Excellant!