What do you do with lots of lemons? Make super zesty French Lemon Cake!

by Mar 21, 2023Recipes

Zesty Lemon Cake Recipe Lots Of Lemons

If you are swimming in lemons during harvest, the question arises: What to do with so many lemons? What I call my “French Lemon Cake” comes to the rescue. I enjoyed this cake in France, but had to develop the recipe myself, of course using lots of juice and lemon zest.

I have done a number of language immersions in France, but a couple of times I decided to just find a cozy B&B in a walkable small town and create my own immersion in a region’s culture, cafes, sights and people. In Metz, France, I found the best of the best in a B&B with just a couple of rooms. Every morning, I had a bountiful breakfast spread while the host would sit and talk to me … in French, mais oui!

Every breakfast included a sweet cake in addition to savory treats and fruits. One morning, a pale yellow cake appeared on the table, and it was love at first bite – his Lemon Cake was so lemony and zesty! Knowing I often have lots of lemons at home during harvest, I asked for his recipe.

B&B Breakfast Metz France

He emailed it upon my return, but it was just a list of ingredients with some, not all, measurements, in metric of course, including a version of a baking powder we don’t have in the United States. He even left sugar off the list! Oh mon dieu, what next?

Adapting my French experience into my own Lemon Cake

I’ve been a hobby chef for years, but baking was not my expertise. Was something like that going to stop me from baking this beautiful Lemon Cake that would transport me back to France and this cozy B&B with every bite? Well, no!

With lemon harvest approaching, it was time to start doing some research into light, lemony, zesty lemon cakes to determine ingredients, measurements, ratios, and leavening. I wanted to make my own French Lemon Cake with all these lemons. The hardest part was determining how to translate “1 package” of French baking powder. First, we don’t sell baking powder in small packets here and, second, my research showed that French baking powder was different in strength than ours.

Thing about this cake that I loved so much was that it really wasn’t overly fluffy; it had a lightness to the crumb but was still firm, and it just exploded with lemony zest in your mouth. That was the goal in my baking challenge — keep it lightly firm and super lemony.

My business partner and husband, Michael, was game to be my taste-tester – even a not-ready-for-prime-time cake can still taste yum! So off I went, flour flying, sugar measured and remeasured, lemons juiced and zested.


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OK, I will say proudly that even my first version was not so bad, but it was a little too fluffy and not quite lemony enough for me. So a few versions and tweaks later – and Michael happily testing away — and I had it dialed. Ouh là là!

The beautiful thing about this cake is that it uses both lemon juice and lemon zest, doubles easily, AND it freezes really well. When you have a lot of lemons, those are all great attributes.

Want to know how to make your own beautifully yummy French Lemon Cake? Let’s get to it! And you too will be ready to plan your own holiday to France … in your own home.

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Zesty French Lemon Cake Recipe

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About The Author

Therese Iknoian

Passionate traveler, wordsmith, photographer, and observer of people and place, Therese lives a life full of all the above. Trained as a newspaper journalist and a member of a Pulitzer Prize-winning news team, she now applies those skills to feed her globe-trotting curiosity – and hopes her storytelling in photos and words encourages others to do the same. Winner of multiple awards for photos and stories, Therese loves to get outdoors, be personally immersed in adventurous experiences, and have a front-row spot with her camera and notebook to document stories that offer authentic insights about a place or its people. And she’s never met a cheesecake she doesn’t have to taste, a ghost town that doesn't demand exploration, or a trail that doesn't beckon.