foodFood & Drinkrecipes

A Citrus Lover’s Sheet Cake

by Kristina Gill

I quit sugar cold turkey on January 5th this year, and haven’t eaten a single granule since then. I have not, however, stopped baking with it for others! One of the easiest things to make is a tall, fluffy sheet cake — mix up the batter, pour it into the pan, and add some frosting if you like. This week, Quin Liburd, the author and photographer behind the food blog Butter Be Ready, shares her recipe for a citrus-intense sheet cake that anyone who loves lemons will want to try right away. Quin adds an extra special garnish of candied lemons, which is as much a feast for the eyes as it is for the palate. Try it out and let us know what you think! —Kristina

Why Quin loves this recipe: I am a huge lover of lemon-flavored anything, especially sweet treats. Sheet cakes are also one of my absolute favorite ways to make a cake with no fuss involved. This lemon sheet cake has a tender and moist crumb with lots of fresh lemon flavor. The tanginess of the lemon cream cheese frosting also complements this cake beautifully!

About Quin: Quin Liburd is a food blogger, photographer, food stylist, and recipe contributor based in Tampa, Florida. In 2016, she started Butter Be Ready, a food blog in which she shares her own recipes. Her recipes have been featured in Essence Magazine, as well as social media platforms for Tasting Table, Food and Wine, and Williams-Sonoma. You can find her on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest at @ButterBeReady.

Above: Quin Liburd

Above: Frosting the cake

Above: Slices of Lemon Sheet Cake with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

Lemon Sheet Cake with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting


  • For the cake:
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups white granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp lemon extract
  • 1 tbsp freshly grated lemon zest
  • 3 cups cake flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup whole buttermilk
  • For the frosting:
  • 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp lemon extract



To make the cake:

Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly spray a 13×9 baking pan with baking spray. Line with parchment paper and spray again. Set aside.


Beat butter and sugar with a mixer at medium speed until fluffy, 3-4 minutes, stopping to scrape sides of bowl.


Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in lemon juice and lemon extract.


In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.


With mixer on low, gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture alternately with the buttermilk. Beginning and ending with flour mixture, beating until just combined. Pour batter into prepared pan.


Bake until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, 30-35 minutes. Let cool completely. Frost cake with lemon cream cheese frosting; garnish with candied/thinly-sliced fresh lemon slices, if desired.


To make the frosting:

Beat the cream cheese and butter together with a mixer until creamy. Add in powdered sugar carefully until combined. Then add in lemon extract.

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  • My mother will LOVE this cake.

    PS. I just attempted to use the print link, but nothing comes up.

    • Hi Renee!

      I’m so sorry the PDF Print link didn’t work for you. We’ll try to troubleshoot that. Can you confirm a PDF dialogue box did not come up when you clicked PRINT?

      It worked on my end so I just sent the recipe (PDF) to the email associated with you D*S Comment account. Enjoy the cake!!


    • TOF

      Oh who gave up sugar? I’m low-sugar (and no refined sugar) because of my Type 1, but did Quin mention giving up sugar online and I missed it? I am not that strong ;)


      • Hi Taste of France! My four month trial is going very well. I never expected to have such IRON will power. By substituting that morning pastry with something healthier, I feel great and no crashing during the day. Though it is a little hard to bake new cake an cookie recipes and not be able to taste how they turn out, relying solely on others’ feedback, over all, I feel great. I do not plan on eating zero sugar for the rest of my life, but I am happy I am doing this test. I suspect that I will eat much much less after this trial period, however.

  • Loved this recipe!
    Didn’t have lemon extract or buttermilk, but finagled some replacement ingredients and my dinner party guests were coming back for seconds!!!

    In place of lemon extract in the cake: 3/4 tbsp vanilla + 1/2 tspn almond extract
    In place of buttermilk: 1/4 cup milk + 1/2 cup yogurt + extra squeeze more lemon than called for.
    In place of lemon extract in the frosting: 1/8 tspn tangerine zest + 1/2 tspn tangerine juice + 1/8 tspn meyer lemon zest

  • Any recommendations on how this should be stored? Specifically, I’m making the cake now and planning on frosting it in the morning. Should I refrigerate the cake over night? Thanks!

  • I have been looking for a lemon sheet cake for my daughter’s birthday party! This looks perfect! Do you know how many it would serve?

    • Hi, Rachel-

      It depends on how large your slices are, but if you wanted to do something regular (2×2), you could get 24 regular sized squares ; but then you’d have left over cake strips. You could either make each square a little bigger to eat up the extra inch width and length, or reduce the size of each slice to eke out more pieces. I vote for the 2×2 option, and keep the trimmings to eat for your self (or cut the strips evenly and distribute to anyone who doesn’t mind not having a square piece!) -Kristina

  • Yumm. I made this with gluten-free flour, (cup4cup.) I needed a little extra buttermilk. This cake is sooooooo good. Thanks so much for sharing!