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Paula’s Southern Lemon Cake with 7-Minute Frosting

By Paula Deen

Paula’s southern lemon cake recipe is a sweet and lemony dessert that will delight all your guests!
Paula’s southern lemon cake recipe is a sweet and lemony dessert that will delight all your guests!

Difficulty: Medium

Prep time: 30 minutes

Cook time: 30 minutes

Servings: 30


  • 1 1/4 cups at room temperature, divided butter
  • sprig for garnish fresh mint
  • 5 cups divided sugar
  • 3 cups sifted self rising flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons pure divided vanilla extract
  • 8 egg yolks
  • 3 juiced and zested, plus wedges for garnish lemons
  • 1/4 teaspoon or 1 tablespoon white corn syrup cream of tartar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 2 egg whites


Preheat oven to 350 °F. Grease and flour three 9-inch cake pans.

Using electric mixer, cream 1 cup butter until fluffy. Add 2 cups sugar and continue to cream well for 6-8 minutes. Add whole eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add flour and milk alternately to creamed mixture, beginning and ending with flour. Add 1 teaspoon vanilla and continue to beat until just mixed. Divide batter equally among prepared pans. Level batter in each pan by holding pan 3 or 4-inches above counter, then dropping flat onto counter. Do this several times to release air bubbles and assure you of a more level cake. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Cool in pans 5-10 minutes. Invert cakes onto cooling racks. Cool completely.

To make the frosting, place 1 1/2 cups sugar, cream of tartar or corn syrup, salt, water and egg whites in the top of a double boiler. Beat with a handheld electric mixer for 1 minute. Place pan over boiling water, being sure that boiling water does not touch the bottom of the top pan. Beat constantly on high speed with electric mixer for 7 minutes. Beat in 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla.

To make the filling, place egg yolks, 1/4 cup butter, 1 1/2 cups sugar and lemon juice and zest in the double boiler over boiling water. Don’t let top pan touch the water. Cook and stir until mixture begins to gel or thicken. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

To assemble, add 1 tablespoon of filling to the cake pedestal. Run hands along the side of the cake to remove excess crumbs. Place the cake layers on the pedestal, spreading filling between the layers and on top. Spread the sides and top of the cake with the remaining filling. Frost top and sides of cake with frosting. Garnish with a lemon wedge and a sprig of mint.

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