A creamy vanilla cheesecake layer is nestled between two layers of fluffy lemon cake and then covered in a lemon buttercream frosting for this delectable Lemon Cheesecake Layer Cake!
This Lemon Cheesecake Layer Cake was such a fun baking project. The two seperate cake elements were fun to work with and bring together into one. Not to mention, the cake was absolutely delicious!
About this Lemon Cheesecake Layer Cake
I wouldn’t say this cake is hard to make, but it does take some time because of the two different cake elements. I made my cheesecake layer first and let it set overnight. Then the next day I bake the cakes and put everything together. You could do it all in one day but I recommend baking the cheesecake first thing in the morning, so it has time to chill.
One thing you want to be sure of when making the three layers is that they are all the same size. I used 9-inch cake pans for the cheesecake and cake layers and it made things so easy. To prepare the pan for the cheesecake, I just pressed nonstick aluminum foil into the bottom of the cake pan and had it sticking up over the sides of the pan. I used the foil to lift the cheesecake out of the pan once it was cool and firm. I ended up with the perfect cheesecake size to match my cake layers.
To frost the cake, I used a lemon buttercream. Make you frosting right when you are ready to frost the cake. Letting it sit out for an extended period of time causes the frosting to firm up, making it hard to work with.
To say this cake was a hit would be an understatement. Not only did the hubby love it, but my mother-in-law, sister-in-law, and step father-in-law all approved! I absolutely love how the tangy sweet vanilla cheesecake layer compliments the flavor and texture of the lemon cake. Getting both in one bite is quite the treat!
Important Tips for Making the Lemon Cake:
Prep your pans. Make sure to grease your pans and add a circle of parchment paper in the bottom of each pan. This will guarantee the cakes come out in one piece.
Soften butter properly. Allow butter to sit out at room temperature for at least an hour. If I'm making a cake in the morning, I allow my butter to sit out on the counter overnight.
Cream the butter and sugar long enough. This is a step that is often overlooked. When you beat softened butter and sugar together on high speed, it fluffs the butter for a light airy cake texture. To do this properly, it usually takes a full 3-5 minutes. It can take a little longer depending on the temperature and humidity in your home. If you skip this step, your cake will come out dense, instead of fluffy.
Measure properly. I like to think of cooking as art, and baking as science. If you are heavy-handed when measuring, or don’t add enough of an ingredient, you will not get the consistency you desire. Be exact. And don’t forget to sift your flour before measuring.
Scrape the bowl. Use a rubber spatula to scrape the mixing bowl in between steps, so all the ingredients are incorporated evenly.
Do not open the oven while the cake is baking. Leave it alone y'all! Don’t open the oven door seventeen times while it’s baking. It needs that consistent heat, and no movement to rise properly. Just be patient and you will be elated with the results.
Cool cake completely. Don’t rush to frost the cake. Make sure to give your cake plenty of time to cool. Even a little warmth will make the frosting melt down the sides as you try to smooth it.
Tips for Making the Cheesecake:
Use the same pan that you use for the lemon cake. This ensures that your cheesecake layer is the same size as your cake layers.
Don’t over beat your cheesecake before baking it. Please don't. You want a CREAMY texture, not FLUFFY. Be sure your cream cheese is room temperature before starting.
Don't skip the water bath. It does not always prevent cracking but does ensure your cheesecake has the perfect melt in your mouth texture. And your cheesecake pan does not have to sit in the water bath. You can also place a large pan of water on a rack just below the cheesecake in the oven. It adds the perfect amount of moisture to the oven while cooking.
Be sure and cool in oven before removing. Do not skip the 30 minutes of cooling in the oven with the door closed or the 30 minutes with the door cracked. This helps prevent your cheesecake from cracking.
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Product Recommendations for making this Lemon Cheesecake Layer Cake:
Lemon Cheesecake Layer Cake
Vanilla Cheesecake Layer
Lemon Cake Layers
- ¾ cup unsalted butter softened
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 ¾ cups cake flour sifted
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4 large eggs
- Zest of 1 lemon save juice for frosting
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon lemon extract
- 3-5 drops yellow food coloring optional
- 1 ¼ cup whole-fat buttermilk
For the Cheesecake
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Line the entire inside of a 9-inch cake pan with aluminum foil. Press it into the pan to get it as flat as you can. You’ll use the aluminum foil to lift the cheesecake out of the pan when it’s baked and cooled.
- In a large mixer bowl, mix the cream cheese, sugar and flour together until combined. Use low speed to keep less air from getting into the batter, which can cause cracks. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- Add the sour cream, and vanilla extract and mix on low speed until well combined.
- Add the eggs one at a time, mixing slowly and scraping the sides of the bowl after each addition.
- Pour the cheesecake batter into the lined cake pan.
- Place the cake pan inside another larger pan. I use a larger cake pan, but you can use a roasting pan or any other larger baking pan. Fill the outside pan with enough warm water to go about halfway up the sides of the cake pan. Bake for 1 hour.
- Turn off the oven and leave the cheesecake in the oven with the door closed for 30 minutes. Do not open the door or you’ll release the heat.
- Crack oven door and leave the cheesecake in the oven for another 30 minutes. This cooling process helps the cheesecake cool slowly to prevent cracks.
- Remove cheesecake from oven and chill until firm, 5-6 hours.
For the Lemon Cake
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray or grease two 9-inch round cake pans. Cut out 9-inch parchment paper circles and press down in the bottom of each pan. (Trace the pan for perfect circles.)
- In the bowl of your stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. (Beat on high approximately 3-5 minutes to break down the sugar crystals.)
- In a separate bowl, mix the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- Once the butter and sugar are well creamed. Scrape the mixing bowl with a rubber spatula. Then turn the mixer on low and beat in the eggs, lemon zest, vanilla extract, lemon extract, and yellow food coloring if using.
- Scrape the bowl again. Turn the mixer back on low and alternate adding the flour mixture and buttermilk until both are well combined. Turn off the mixer.
- Pour the batter evenly into the two prepared pans. Bake on the middle rack, undisturbed for 30 minutes.
- Check the cake by inserting a toothpick into the center. If it comes out clean, take them out of the oven. If the toothpick has batter on it, bake another 5-10 minutes and recheck.
- Allow the cakes to cool 10 minutes in the pans. Then carefully flip them out on a cooling rack. Remove the parchment paper and cool completely.
For the Lemon Buttercream
- Once the cakes are room temperature, place the butter in a clean stand mixer bowl. Beat until fluffy. Then scrape the bowl and turn on low. Mix in the buttermilk and lemon juice. Then add the powdered sugar one cup at a time, beating to incorporate.
- After adding powdered sugar, turn the mixer up to beat out any clumps. Check the consistency of the frosting. If it is too loose, add another 1-2 cups of powdered sugar and beat until smooth.
Assembling the Cake
- Move one cake to a cake stand or platter. Scoop about 1 cup frosting onto the cake. Use a large flat spatula to spread the frosting out evenly.
- Use the aluminum foil to lift the cheesecake out of the cake pan, remove the foil and place the cheesecake on top of the cake.
- Spread another cup of frosting evenly on top of the cheesecake, then add the second layer of cake on top.
- Gently press the cake a little to level the top. Then scoop all remaining frosting on top of the cake. Use the spatula to work the frosting over the top and down the sides.
- Use a spoon to make swooping marks on sides and tops of cake for a rustic look. Use a wet paper towel to clean up the cake stand.