French Lemon Cake (Cake au Citron)

French lemon cake, Cake au Citron

On our travels to Paris, France, I found this fantastic Lemon cake at a Pâtisserie Cafe. I did some research on French recipes, and baked it to the best of my knowledge

French lemon cake ingredients
French Lemon Cake ingredients

Internal temperature should be at least 207 F, or do a toothpick test

For cake I use a 9″ x 5″ oven loaf pan, 350 F, 45 to 50 minutes

 If you don’t have any Creme Fraiche (Trader Joe’s), use 2 to 4% Greek Yoghurt

Cutting during the baking time: You can take the cake out of the oven after about 15 minutes and cut it lengthwise in the middle with a knife dipped in liquid butter. This creates the characteristic of sand cake pudding and the cake bakes more evenly.

If the cake gets to dark during baking cover it loosely with some foil

Baking time and core temperature: A common question about pies and cake is, why is the cake soggy, or why do I recognize that the cake is well baked. Instead of the stick test, I recommend using a food or meat thermometer to measure the core temperature at 207 F to make sure the lemon cake is safely baked through. For this, at the end of the baking time, pierce the probe in the middle of the cake and read the core temperature. If necessary, extend the baking time and cover the cake with aluminum foil to prevent further browning.

See my Lemon Curd recipe here 

French Lemon Cake (Cake au citron)

French Lemon Cake (Cake au citron)
Category: Cake
Cuisine: French
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 55 minutes

The Lemon cake should rest wrapped in some plastic for 24 hours, this way it will become more flavorful. Optional: Lay out the pan with some baking paper, also called parchment paper, for easier lifting when finished. The bottom also stays smooth and will not stick.


  • For the Batter - Pâte à cake:
  • 3 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1/2 cup creme fraiche (4% Greek yoghurt)
  • 1 1/2 cup of sifted all purpose flour (Pillsbury or King Arthur white)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • dash salt
  • 1/2 cup of unsalted butter, room temperature
  • zest of two lemons
  • 3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • For the Glaze - Glación acidulé:
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup of lemon juice, freshly squeezed


  • Preheat oven to 350 F. Prepare loaf pan. Have everything ready.
  • Grate the peel of 2 lemons.
  • Sift flour with baking powder.
  • Heat butter, it should be soft, but not hot.
  • Add room temperature eggs and sugar in a mixer with and whisk until the sugar has completely dissolved, and the mass has become lighter.
  • Then add crème fraiche (or Greek yoghurt), zest of the lemons and juice, salt, vanilla extract, and the flour with the baking powder. Stir briefly until a homogeneous mass has formed.
  • Finally, add the soft butter and mix until smooth.
  • Brush the pan (9x5 loaf pan) with some soft butter or oil.
  • Evenly fill in the lemon cake mass and place in the preheated oven on the middle rack
  • The total baking time is approx. is about 45 to 50 minutes.
  • Do a tooth pick test.
  • If the lemon cake browns too quickly during baking, then please cover with a little aluminum foil loosely.
  • Remove the lemon cake from the oven and let it cool for 5 minutes in the mold.
  • Lift it out of the baking pan and place it on a cake grid.
  • Let the lemon cake cool down. Then wrap in plastic foil for 24 hours.
  • If the lemon cake is to be soaked: Let the lemon cake cool for 10 minutes then brush the liquified Lemon Curd evenly over the whole cake (make it thin with 2 tbsp Lemon juice)
  • If you are not doing the Lemon Curd soak, you can do a glaze with powdered sugar and fresh lemon juice and drizzle over the cooled cake


 Remove cake from the oven, internal temperature should be 207 F, or do a tooth pick test. Wait 5 to 10 minutes, then make holes all over cake with tooth pick or fork. Soak with lemon mixture while cake is still hot. Let cool in plastic foil overnight. 

Nutrition information

8 -10 Servings

French Lemon cake, Cake au citron
French Lemon Cake

I have been living half of my life in Germany, then US, and traveling since then. My passion is cooking, painting and glass mosaic art. I try to re-create recipes I grew up with, or I tasted while traveling in Europe. Disclosure: As an Amazon Affiliate I earn a small commission if you click through and make qualifying purchases with no additional cost to you.

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