I first made this lemon white chocolate cake for a birthday, and it went down a treat! There aren’t many chocolate-lovers in my family (I know, how weird) so I usually steer clear from the classic chocolate birthday cake. White chocolate is a big crowd-pleaser though.
I have always loved to bake cakes, but I’ve not always been great at decorating them. You can easily invest hours into baking and decorating them and I’m usually quite a busy person. This recipe includes some top tips for quick and easy decorating. You can enjoy a beautiful and impressive cake for minimal effort – the dream!
✏️ Making a tasty and easy recipe
I'm a little bit in love with lemon and white chocolate, and I love that this cake has a soft and simple lemon sponge, with a creamy and zesty ganache. As I don't usually have cream on hand, I like to use a no-cream ganache in this recipe.
This lemon white chocolate cake recipe is enough for three separate layers. If you have enough cake tins, use three 8inch (20cm) tins. However, if you only have two tins, you can bake two thicker sponges and cut these in half to have a four-layer cake instead.
For a quick and easy approach, use your set ganache between the layers on top for a more “naked” look. Alternatively, you can cover the outside with a generous coating to maximise the zesty lemon and white chocolate taste.
🥘 Ingredients notes
- Start with room temperature ingredients. I recommend this for all of my cakes and buttercreams as it helps your ingredients mix together easier.
- I find this recipe works best if you use good-quality baking chocolate or fancy couverture chocolate. The Callebaut white chocolate callets are one of the best, they melt like a dream!
- Always sieve your flour. I used to be a bit lazy and skip this part, but it really makes such a difference to get you a lump-free mixture.
- When measuring your ingredients, I always recommend using weights rather than cups where possible for greater accuracy.
🔪 Equipment notes
- I like to use digital scales for weighing my ingredients as it's easier and more accurate than other scales. I'm a fan of these KitchenAid or Salter ones!
- Use measuring spoons for your tsp and tbsp amounts where possible. Be sure to level off the heaped ingredients in your scoops before adding them to your mix.
- Once decorated and finished, it's best to place your lemon white chocolate cake into an extra-large airtight container. Your cake should keep for up to 3 days stored at room temperature.
- If it's hot where you live (lucky you!), you may want to store your cake in the fridge instead. It should last up to 4 days in the fridge, but this may dry it out slightly so cover it well.
- If you want to freeze your cake, you can wrap the unfrosted sponge cake layers in plastic wrap / cling film and then a layer of aluminium foil then freeze them. This can be kept for up to 1-2 months in the freezer. Defrost and use as normal per recipe.
- I’m a pretty busy person, and I’m sure you are too! So, if you’re short on time, I recommend making the cake sponges in advance. You can bake the sponges 1-2 days before use and keep them wrapped up in cling film/plastic food wrap in the fridge.
💭 Top tips for success
If you’re after a more professional and clean-cut finish for your lemon white chocolate cake, first build your cake with ganache between the layers. Then cover the outside and top in a thin layer of the ganache, known as a crumb coat.
Put this in the fridge for at 15mins to set. This will trap the crumbs so that when you come to cover the cake in more ganache, you can get a smooth and even finish without little bits of cake getting swept up into the covering.
Using a flat palette knife and an offset palette knife is very handy to ice your cake. If you have a turntable and smoother/scraper (a thin piece of plastic or metal), this can be used to give your ganache covering a smooth and level finish.
As with all of my cakes, I recommend keeping any offcuts of the sponges for later use. These can be from levelling the tops or slicing around the outsides to remove the crust. These leftovers are perfect for making cake pops with or crumbling up and using for decorating.
♻️ Alternatives and substitutions
If you have used 2 cake pans rather than 3, bake your cakes for an extra 5-10mins and cut these sponges in half to get 4 layers. You can use toothpicks to help guide you into cutting a level slice, or use a cake leveller if you have one.
I usually use self-raising flour for this recipe, but you can swap this for plain / all-purpose flour and add 2 ½ tsp of baking powder instead.
To make this lemon white chocolate cake gluten-free, swap the self-raising flour for a gluten-free self-raising flour blend of the same quantity.
For better gluten-free cake results, overmix your cake batter and then let the finished cake batter "rest" at room temperature for 30mins before baking.
🧁 Other goodies
If you love lemon, why not check out my recipes for lemon bars and gluten-free lemon almond shortbread? Or for more information on the frosting used in this recipe, check out my lemon white chocolate ganache (without cream) recipe page.
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Easy Lemon White Chocolate Cake
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Lemon Sponge Cake:
- 225 g (1 cups) unsalted butter (room temp.)
- 225 g (1⅙ cups) caster sugar
- 4 eggs
- 225 g (1¾ cups) self-raising flour
- 2 lemons' zest
- 2 tbsp milk
Lemon White Chocolate "No Cream" Ganache:
- 100 g (½ cups) unsalted butter
- 140 ml (½ cups) milk (whole or semi-skimmed)
- 425 g (3¼ cups) white chocolate
- 1-2 lemons' zest and juice (depending on taste)
Lemon Sponge Cake:
- Pre-heat oven: 180°C / 160°C (fan) / Gas Mark 4 / 350°F
- Cream together the butter and sugar until smooth. This can be done in an electric mixer if you have one.
- Beat the eggs into the mix one at a time until fully combined.
- Sift in the flour and add the lemon zest, folding these in using a spatula or wooden spoon, then stir in the milk until only just combined.
- Split the cake mix evenly between the 3 lined tins and bake for 20-25mins, until golden and a skewer comes out clean from the centre.
- While the cake is baking, start making the ganache.
- Heat the butter and milk until almost boiling, either in the microwave or in a saucepan.
- Break up the chocolate into small pieces in a heatproof bowl and pour the hot butter and milk mix over the chocolate. Cover and leave for 5mins.
- Stir the ganache until smooth. If all of the chocolate hasn't melted, re-heat for 10secs in the microwave or 2-3mins on the hob and stir again. Repeat this until completely melted and smooth.
- Add the lemon zest and juice, and stir until combined.
- Let the ganache cool for 30mins-1hr in the fridge until set. It should be thick and spreadable once set and firmed up.
Assembly and Decoration:
- Let the cakes cool completely before slicing off any peaks on top to a level sponge.
- Add the generous amount ganache between each of the layers, spreading evely, and on top. If you'd like, you can also cover the outside of the cake (see notes below for tips).
- Decorate with lemon slices and grated lemon zest.
- If you are after a more professional finish, you can coat your cake in a crumb coating (a thin layer of the ganache) first, after assembling the cake, and refrigerate for 15mins. After this, fully cover the outside of the cake in ganache and smooth with a scraper.
- If you have used 2 cake tins rather than 3, bake your cakes for an extra 5-10mins and cut these sponges in half to get 4 layers. You can use toothpicks to help guide you into cutting a level slice, or use a cake leveller if you have one.
* The nutrition information provided is an estimate based on an online nutritional calculator and actual values may vary.