Citrus Cake

Candied Citrus Cake - Bake from Scratch

The beauty of the Basic 1-2-3-4 Cake is its versatility. You’ll love this bright citrus cake. Save the citrus syrup from your candied oranges and lemons to use as a delicious glaze for cupcakes and muffins. Find more variations on the 1-2-3-4 cake, here

2.7 from 3 reviews
Citrus Cake
Makes 1 (9-inch) cake
  • 1 cup (227 grams) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups (400 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3 cups (300 grams) cake flour
  • 1 tablespoon (15 grams) baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon (2 grams) ground ginger
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon almond extract
  • Citrus Frosting (recipe follows)
  • Garnish: Candied Oranges and Lemons (recipe follows), fresh bay leaves
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray 2 (9-inch) round cake pans with baking spray with flour.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar at medium speed until fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes, stopping to scrape sides of bowl. Beat in zests. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and ginger. Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture alternately with milk, beginning and ending with flour mixture, beating just until combined after each addition. Stir in extracts. Divide batter between prepared pans (smoothing tops if necessary).
  4. Bake until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, 28 to 30 minutes. Let cool in pans for 10 minutes. Remove from pans, and let cool completely on wire racks.
  5. Using a serrated knife, cut each layer in half horizontally. Spread Citrus Frosting between layers and on top of cake. Garnish with Candied Oranges and Lemons and bay leaves, if desired.

2.7 from 3 reviews
Citrus Frosting
Makes about 6 cups
  • 2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 2 teaspoons orange zest
  • 1 (2-pound) package (910 grams) confectioners’ sugar
  • 6 to 8 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat cream cheese and zests at medium speed until creamy, 3 to 4 minutes. Gradually add confectioners’ sugar, and beat in cream until frosting is a spreadable consistency. Beat in vanilla.

2.7 from 3 reviews
Candied Oranges and Lemons
  • 1 navel orange
  • 2 small lemons
  • 1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
  • ¾ cup water
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  1. Line a jelly-roll pan with wax paper. Cut citrus into ⅛-inch-thick rounds; discard seeds. In a large skillet, heat sugar, ¾ cup water, and lemon juice over medium heat until sugar is dissolved. Add citrus slices, and simmer gently, keeping slices in a single layer, turning occasionally, until slightly translucent and rinds are softened, 14 to 16 minutes. Remove from heat. Using tongs, place slices in a single layer in prepared pan. Let cool completely, about 1 hour. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 2 days. Sprinkle with additional sugar just before placing on cake. Reserve syrup for another use, if desired.


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  1. Is there supposed to be butter in the citrus cream cheese frosting? I made this yesterday, as written here and in the Bake From Scratch cookbook, and the frosting was very gloopy and no way it would be fluffy like in the picture.. After correcting with some butter, was a much nicer consistency and closer to the photo?

  2. I followed this recipe exact from the book and it is not creamy like the picture. Is there an ingredient missing for the citrus cake frosting?

    • Hi Anita,

      Thanks for reaching out! If the icing was too stiff, you can add a touch more cream to loosen it. If it seemed that the icing was too loose, you can reduce the amount of cream going into the frosting. If you have already added all of the cream and have the loose consistency, add some confectioners’ sugar to thicken. Also, you’ll want to make sure that all of your ingredients are at the appropriate temperature, specifically that the cream cheese has been softened. If the cream cheese was too cold, let the icing come to room temperature and beat again. If the cream cheese was too soft, you can place the mixing bowl in the fridge for about 30 minutes to allow it to firm up, then whip the mixture again. Hope this helps, but let me know if there was another issue that I did not address!

  3. Hi There!

    This was a superb recipe! I followed the instructions and the cake came out perfectly!
    It was a delicious cake! My husband loved it.

    It has a lovely tight crumb. The ginger adds a delightful dimension to the whole flavor of the cake.

    It is a wonderful recipe! And, I am going to keep it amongst my favorite recipes.

  4. This was a perfect recipe! My cake turned out great! I followed the directions. The cake crumb is nice and tight. The flavor is awesome. The ginger gives it a great dimension to it. It is a keeper for my virtual recipe box! Thank you for this wonderful recipe.


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