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Lemon Crunch Cake

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Prep Time: 15 minutes     Cook Time: 35 minutes

5 from 24 votes

Lemon crunch cake is easy to make and the flavor will blow you away. A yellow cake mix is the basis of the recipe, and then you have a wonderful frosting made with cream, lemon extract, and more. Boasting a fresh, lemony aroma, it is sure to get your mouth watering.

A lemon crunch cake on a cake stand.
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If you want to make a tasty dessert that everyone will love, try this simple recipe. A layer cake is ideal for any occasion. This one is impressive enough to showcase at a tea party or any other kind of gathering. The homemade candy crunch finishes it off beautifully.

Blending a flavorful cake with soft, creamy frosting and homemade candy crunch, you are sure to love the results of this easy recipe.

I also have a strawberry crunch cake version, as well as a delicious lemon crunch pie if you'd rather stick with the lemon flavor!

Main Ingredients

The ingredients to make lemon crunch cake laid out on a table.

Lemon fans, this is a citrus-packed recipe for you! Not only is it simple to prepare, but even the frosting is simple, and decorating it is a breeze. Let’s take a look at some of the key ingredients in this easy dessert recipe:

  • Yellow cake mix: To save time making the perfect cake.
  • Lemon extract: For a wonderful citrus flavor.
  • Eggs: To add richness.
  • Heavy cream: To make the frosting.
  • Confectioner’s sugar: To sweeten the frosting.
  • Baking soda: This adds tiny air bubbles to the crunchy caramel to improve texture.

Instructions Overview

Lemon crunch cake is simple to make. Even if you don’t do much baking, you will find the recipe simple to follow. There are several steps involved in making this crunch-topped dessert. First, you need to combine the yellow cake mix with lemon, egg yolks, canola oil, and water, until the batter is smooth. In another bowl, you can combine egg whites with cream of tartar.

Keep mixing until you get stiff peaks. The cream of tartar helps the egg whites to achieve volume and then holds in air and water to stabilize them. You will get to the soft peak stage after some beating, but just keep going until the peaks are quite stiff. Mix the batter with the egg white mixture and divide this between a pair of greased and floured cake tins. While these cakes are baking in the oven, you can work on the frosting and crunchy topping.

Sugar, corn syrup, and water combine with baking soda to make a crunchy caramel. It needs to fully cool to set, so make this before the frosting. The lemon frosting is a mixture of lemon, confectioner’s (powdered) sugar, and cream. You can cut across each cake, as soon as they've cooled, so you have four pieces total. Then you will sandwich them together with the lemon frosting, and also cover the top and sides.

Finally, the most fun part - decorating! By now your caramel should have set, so you can break it into pieces and sprinkle them all over the top and sides of the cake. A few slices of lemon (either fresh or candied) finish it off perfectly.

A slice of lemon crunch cake on a plate.

Common Questions

What flavor is yellow cake mix?

Yellow cake mix is vanilla flavored. It's tastes good paired with vanilla buttercream, chocolate frosting, or another type of frosting or icing. Yellow cake mix is perfect for this lemon crunch cake because the tang of lemon and creamy frosting complements the subtle vanilla flavor of the mix.

What is the difference between Funfetti and vanilla cake?

While vanilla cake is also a yellow cake, Funfetti cake is also vanilla flavored but with sprinkles in the batter. You could use white cake mix or Funfetti to make this lemon crunch cake, but since the main flavor is lemon, I like to use yellow (a.k.a. vanilla) mix so as not to overwhelm the delicate citrus flavor.

Can you substitute canola oil for butter in a cake recipe?

Canola oil is a great choice for baking because it has a neutral flavor unlike, say, olive oil. If you prefer to use butter, that would also work. I often use canola oil in place of melted butter in recipes because then there's no melting involved.

Can you make lemon crunch cake ahead?

It needs to chill for a few hours before serving, so you will need to make it ahead. It will keep in the refrigerator for a few days, so if you want to make it a day or so ahead, that is also fine.

Can you freeze this cake?

The short answer is yes, but if you want to freeze it, make the cake and frosting separately. Whipped cream freezes and thaws surprisingly well. Wrap the two layers in foil and then plastic, and freeze the topping in an airtight container. Thaw them both, and then proceed with the recipe. If you also want to make and freeze the caramel, this can be frozen for up to three months. You could make and then freeze the entire cake, but it would get a little soggy when thawing, so freeze the components separately for the best result.

How do you store it?

It will keep in the refrigerator for up to three days. If you don’t plan on eating the whole thing within a day, it’s best to keep it in a covered container so it won’t dry out.

What can I serve with this recipe?

This indulgent lemon layer cake can be served just as it is. It goes nicely with a cup of coffee or your favorite iced drink.

A close up shot of a piece of lemon crunch cake.

Chopnotch Tips

  • Make sure the cakes are completely cool before cutting and frosting.
  • It’s important to beat the egg whites and cream of tartar well. It will take about four minutes with an electric whisk to get stiff peaks.
  • Candied lemons make a wonderful decoration. To make these, cook a finely sliced lemon with a cup each of water and sugar on the stove for about 40 minutes. Let them dry overnight on parchment paper.
A fork pushing down into a slice of lemon crunch cake.

Fans of lemon will love the rich flavor of this lemon crunch cake. Newbies to baking will also love how easy it is to make as well.

Let us know what you think! Give this recipe a rating in the comments section below.


How to Make

Lemon Crunch Cake

This delicious dessert recipe is well worth making. The yellow cake is decorated with fluffy frosting as well as crumbled homemade caramel pieces for crunch.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Chilling Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 50 minutes
Servings: 10 slices


For the cake:

  • ½ cup canola oil
  • ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 18 ounces yellow cake mix
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • ¾ cup water
  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract

For the frosting:

  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 cups heavy cream, whipped
  • 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon lemon extract
  • cup water
  • ¼ cup confectioners' sugar
  • ¼ cup light corn syrup
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For the cake:

  • Grease and flour 2 8-inch layer pans.
  • Empty a package of yellow cake mix in a large bowl, creating a well in the center.
  • Beat in 1 teaspoon lemon extract, ½ cup canola oil, ¾ cup water, and egg yolks, for about a minute, until smooth.
  • In a separate bowl, beat together ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar and egg whites until stiff peaks form.
  • Fold in egg yolk mixture gradually until just blended.
  • Pour into prepared pans and bake for 30 to 35 minutes at 350 F.
  • Once done, let them cool and split each cake into 2 layers.
  • Frost both cake layers with lemon crunch frosting.

For the frosting:

  • Combine 1-½ cups sugar, ¼ cup light corn syrup, and ⅓ cup water in a heavy saucepan. Stir cook until a small drop of mixture separates into hard brittle threads in cold ice water.
  • Turn off heat and stir in baking-soda mixture quickly until foamy.
  • Pour batter onto an 8 by 12-inch buttered cookie sheet and spread to ¼-inch thickness. Let it cool.
  • Break into pieces before crushing into crumbs.
  • Combine together ¼ cup confectioners' sugar, ½ teaspoon lemon extract, and 2 cups heavy cream in a large bowl and mix well until blended.
  • Spread the middle of cake layers with half of the sweetened whipped cream and the remainder on the sides and top.
  • Sprinkle sides and top with crushed candy.
  • Garnish with slices of lemon and refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours.
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  • Make sure the cakes are completely cool before cutting and frosting.
  • It’s important to beat the egg whites and cream of tartar well. It will take about four minutes with an electric whisk to get stiff peaks.
  • Candied lemons make a wonderful decoration. To make these, cook a finely sliced lemon with a cup each of water and sugar on the stove for about 40 minutes. Let them dry overnight on parchment paper.

Nutrition Facts

Calories: 534kcal (27%), Carbohydrates: 56g (19%), Protein: 7g (14%), Fat: 34g (52%), Saturated Fat: 13g (81%), Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 151mg (50%), Sodium: 520mg (23%), Potassium: 169mg (5%), Fiber: 1g (4%), Sugar: 37g (41%), Vitamin A: 899IU (18%), Vitamin C: 1mg (1%), Calcium: 150mg (15%), Iron: 1mg (6%)
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Comments & Ratings

  1. This looks really delicious! If I may make a suggestion, it would be very helpful to newbie bakers to give instructions on the best way to split cake layers so they are less likely to break. Thank you!

    • Thanks so much, Hodge! This is a great idea!

  2. 5 stars
    This cake looks great. Can you use a bundt cake pan instead?

    • Hi Lizette, thank you so much! Yes. A typical 10-inch bundt pan holds about the same capacity as two 8-inch round pans, which is what I used in this recipe, so you can definitely use the bundt pan and I bet it would come out great! It's okay if your bundt pan is a little smaller, just don't fill it to the top with batter. Fill it about 2/3 of the way full or a little more. And also monitor the oven because the baking time will probably be different. Start checking its doneness a little earlier to be safe.