Lemon Velvet Sheet Cake




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lemon velvet sheet cake

Lemon Velvet Sheet Cake is like a long tall glass of lemonade in a sheet pan…tart and tangy and oh so inviting.  This easy vintage inspired lemon cake is a potluck classic!

Lemon Velvet Sheet Cake with lemon halves

Lemon velvet sheet cake…the name alone makes me drool!

My list of lemon desserts is getting pretty long, but who’s counting?  There’s no such thing as too many recipes that feature this epic fruit.  In the cake category alone I’ve got everything from a lemon breakfast cake and a lemony loaf cake to a decadent lemon layer cake and a classic lemon cheesecake.  And don’t worry, I’m not stopping any time soon.

lemon velvet sheet cake squares on a plate

This lemon sheet cake brings a casual, vintage vibe to my lemon desserts collection.  It’s laid back and super simple, but doesn’t skimp on the lemon factor at all.  Yes, it’s made with my special lemon sugar, did you even have to ask?

Why I use lemon sugar in so many of my lemon desserts

  • By processing sugar with fresh lemon zest I’m able to extract the very most flavor from lemons.
  • It’s very easy to do, and the payoff is huge.

How to make lemon sugar

  • Put granulated sugar in a food processor along with the zest of a lemon.
  • I use a ratio of about one lemon per cup of sugar.
  • I peel the zest with a serrated vegetable peeler, making sure to take only the yellow part, and avoiding as much of the bitter white ‘pith’ as possible.
  • Process until the two are completely combined, and the sugar is moist, pale yellow, and incredibly fragrant.
  • Use right away for best flavor.

cutting squares of lemon velvet cake in the pan

This is the type of snacking cake you’ll sneak little pieces from all day long…

it’s hard to stay away, take my word for it.  The texture of the cake is firm and slices into perfectly irresistible thin slivers, no fork necessary.

A piece of lemon velvet sheet cake with fork

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lemon velvet sheet cake
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4.88 from 8 votes

Lemon Velvet Sheet Cake

Lemon Velvet Sheet Cake is like a long tall glass of lemonade in a sheet pan...tart and tangy and oh so inviting.  This easy vintage inspired lemon cake is a potluck classic!
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Yield 16 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • zest of 2 lemons
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil (I used canola, you can use a light olive oil if you like)
  • 1 tsp lemon paste (optional)
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 cup sour cream, creme fraiche, or full fat yogurt
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups cake flour

glaze

  • 3 cups confectioner's sugar
  • 5 Tbsp lemon juice (plus more if needed)

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly butter and flour a 9x13 pan.
  • Put the sugar and lemon zest in a food processor and process until they are completely combined and the sugar is pale yellow and fragrant.
  • Put the lemon sugar in a large mixing bowl and whisk in the eggs, oil, and lemon paste.
  • Whisk in the lemon juice and sour cream, and get it as smooth as you can, but don't worry about little lumps.
  • Whisk in the baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Then fold in the flours. Note: the batter will be somewhat lumpy.
  • Pour the batter into the preapred pan and bake for 30-33 minutes just until the cake is firm to the touch and is starting to turn golden.
  • Cool for 15 minutes before spreading the glaze over the entire surface.

glaze

  • Whisk or process your sugar and lemon juice together until smooth. Add a bit more lemon juice if you feel that your glaze is too thick.
  • Spread evenly over the warm (but not hot) cake. Let cool before slicing. Note: if you want very sharp slices, make sure you let the glaze completely harden before you cut into it.

Notes

*recipe adapted from Jessie Sheehan

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18 Comments

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  • Reply
    Genie Burns
    May 15, 2020 at 2:50 pm

    Could you substitute lemon extract for the lemon paste?

    • Reply
      Sue
      May 15, 2020 at 4:23 pm

      Yes, that’s fine.

  • Reply
    Lucy RecuperoCook
    May 10, 2020 at 9:56 am

    5 stars
    OMGosh Sue!!
    First off, Happy Mother’s Day…I made this cake last night for Mother’s Day today…it is amazing, I‘m not kidding, it’s the best lemon cake I’ve ever made/tasted & I don’t have any lemon paste (yet!) I baked mine in two 9” round pans(one to give away{maybe!}) as well as a 9” loaf pan…the perfect size for breakfast. The key to the success I believe was, I made it last night, glazed it then covered it loosely…today the glaze is perfectly set! I also made some lemon curd to go with it but it doesn’t need anything except a hot cup of tea.
    You are amazing and I LOVE all your recipes…you are my “go to gal” from now on.
    Have a beautiful day?

  • Reply
    Pat
    May 8, 2020 at 5:17 pm

    It must be ESP as I ordered lemons from the grocery store and when I picked up the order, they had given me a bag of lemons. Rather than complain when they are doing me a service by shopping for me because of the virus I decided to check out lemon recipes and then I read your blog!!! Shall try the cake as it does look good.

    • Reply
      Sue
      May 8, 2020 at 5:22 pm

      haha, that happened to me with huge bulbs of fennel!

  • Reply
    Denise P
    May 8, 2020 at 10:52 am

    I love lemon desserts, and I have an over abundance of lemons. When friends with lemon trees ask if I want some, I can’t say no. So would this freeze, do you think? There are no potlucks going right now, and there are only two of us, but I want to try this.

    • Reply
      Sue
      May 8, 2020 at 11:39 am

      It would definitely freeze well, but as with all glazes, I would add the glaze after defrosting if you can.

  • Reply
    Betsyros
    May 8, 2020 at 9:32 am

    5 stars
    I also love all things lemon. There is a recipe from America’s Test Kitchen , The Best Almond Cake, that has an unusual topping. The last step of the recipe is to mix sugar and lemon zest together and sprinkle on top of almonds – makes a great topping. I haven’t made that cake for a while but I remember the topping as being really good. Thank you for this great lemon recipe – I hope flour is available very soon.

    • Reply
      Sue
      May 8, 2020 at 9:47 am

      Oooh that does sound good, thanks!

  • Reply
    Jeanine
    May 8, 2020 at 8:38 am

    Could you substitute lemon curd for the lemon paste?

    • Reply
      Sue
      May 8, 2020 at 8:53 am

      Not necessary, you can just leave it out. But if you happen to have lemon curd, it might be a nice addition.

  • Reply
    Maryam
    May 8, 2020 at 7:52 am

    Oh my! Sue, we share an obsession with lemon flavour desserts and cakes as well as cardamom! I really want to try this recipe but alas, I cannot get flour anywhere.. I have used all my almonds grinding them up to make a tarta de Santiago which was delicious (hint; lemon is involved). I shall just savour the pictures, make some of your lovely lemon sugar (I have lots of lemons and lots of sugar!) and wait till the flour hits the shelves again x

    • Reply
      Sue
      May 8, 2020 at 8:32 am

      So sorry to hear that Maryam ~ I’ve been able to get cake flour for a while now, but if that dries up, I’ll be out of luck too :/

  • Reply
    Naomi Mier
    May 8, 2020 at 7:28 am

    What is lemon paste and also can you use AP unbleached flour? This recipe sounds delicious. Thanks!

    • Reply
      Sue
      May 8, 2020 at 7:48 am

      Lemon paste is a wonderful thick lemon flavoring, a lot like vanilla bean paste. I’ll update the post to explain that. And yes, you can use regular flour, no problem.

  • Reply
    Carla
    May 8, 2020 at 7:25 am

    I’m sorry I must have missed the part about the lemon paste…..What is lemon paste? The recipe looks wonderful..I will be making this. I know the lemon paste is optional, but it must add a lot of flavor.

    • Reply
      Sue
      May 8, 2020 at 7:47 am

      Lemon paste is wonderful, it’s a thick lemon ‘paste’, a lot like vanilla bean paste, here’s a link (it’s an affiliate link)

    • Reply
      Tracie
      May 8, 2020 at 7:49 am

      I had the same question.