A gluten free lemon blueberry cake with lemon buttercream filling, topped with a rich lemon glaze, and all the freshest ingredients.
Bright lemon flavor from fresh juice and zest
Fresh lemons are available year round, even where I live in New York. But if I ever move far away from here, please please let me live somewhere that I can grow fresh citrus in my backyard 🍋🌳…
Whatever you do, let it be freshly squeezed lemon juice, not the bottled kind (even that kind that people say tastes fresh!). If you’re baking with lemon juice more than once in a short time period, you can of course juice all of your lemons at once and store the juice for a day or so in a sealed container in the refrigerator.
Meyer lemons are lovely
In the late winter, I can usually find Meyer lemons in my grocery store, which are thought to be a cross between lemons and mandarin oranges. They have a thinner skin, more juice, and a less sour flavor than traditional lemons.
You can use them in this recipe, or in any other recipe that calls for lemon juice or zest. Since the skin is thinner, it can be harder to zest a Meyer lemon.
Try zesting them when they’re cold from the refrigerator, when the lemon is firmer and less likely to be damaged by zesting. Always zest first, juice after.
For the lemon filling and icing
The lemon buttercream filling in the center with a rich lemon glaze on top pair perfectly with the lightly sweet, tender lemon cake. If you’d rather not make a lemon buttercream filling and a separate rich lemon glaze for the top, just double up on the buttercream.
The cake itself has a fair amount of lemon juice, along with sour cream for extra tangy flavor plus tenderness in the crumb. It also has plenty of lemon zest, so the lemon flavor is prominent.
You can only use so much lemon juice in the lemon buttercream filling and icing, since you can’t have too much moisture. But with lemon in all parts of the cake, the flavor is perfect.
If you’d still like extra lemon flavor, you can add a bit of pure lemon extract. Or even try adding some “True Lemon” brand crystallized lemon.
Fresh blueberries are best
I don’t usually buy blueberries when they’re not in season, since they’re super expensive and they taste terrible. But if I’m dying to make a blueberry muffin or this gluten free lemon blueberry cake outside the season, there are usually two options.
Typically, organic blueberries are even more expensive than conventional berries, but they tend to taste fresher and have a better consistency. Look for a container with larger berries, which are less likely to be tart or have a chewy consistency.
You can use frozen berries but they will bleed a bit. To minimize bleeding of the color of the berries into the cake, don’t defrost the berries.
Instead, rinse them with cold water before tossing them in cornstarch. That will help minimize the color transfer.
Above all else, resist the temptation to pack the cake with more blueberries than the recipe calls for! They’ll make for a too-wet cake that rises and then sinks, leaving you with an overly wet, dense cake.
Ingredients and substitutions
Dairy: In place of the butter in the cake and in the rich lemon glaze, try a vegan butter like Miyoko’s Kitchen brand or Melt brand. I don’t recommend Earth Balance buttery sticks because of the high salt and moisture content.
In place of the sour cream in the cake, if you have a favorite dairy free sour cream, try using that. Otherwise, buy plain dairy free yogurt and strain it of liquid until it’s the consistency of Greek-style yogurt and use that.
In the frosting, try using butter-flavored Spectrum non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening in place of butter. You can also try vegan butter, but I prefer Spectrum shortening for dairy free buttercream.
Eggs: This cake calls for 3 whole eggs, which is more than I feel confident you could replace successfully. If you need an egg-free lemon cake, try our recipe for gluten free vanilla crazy cake and replace 1/4 cup of the water with freshly-squeezed lemon juice.
Corn: The cornstarch in the cake can easily be replaced with arrowroot or even potato starch. If you can’t have corn, be sure you’re using a corn-free confectioners’ sugar, as most brands contain cornstarch.