Gluten Free Lemon Cream Cake

Gluten Free Lemon Cream Cake

Gluten Free Lemon Cream Cake—an Olive Garden copycat recipe!

What is it about spring that makes us crave lemony, creamy things? This gluten free lemon cream cake, a dead ringer copycat for the popular Olive Garden favorite, just means Mother’s Day and backyard barbecues and kids doing their screaming outside instead of inside to me. Isn’t outside screaming so adorable? Screaming outside + a beautiful copycat recipe = pure spring pleasure. And you know how I love a copycat recipe!

Gluten Free Lemon Cream Cake—an Olive Garden copycat recipe!

Olive Garden copycat lemon cream cake recipes can be found here and there on the Internet, and they’re mostly the same. In making it gluten free, I also made it pretty differently. The “original” copycat recipe has a raw crumb topping, and for all I know that’s exactly what they do at The Olive Garden. But I wasn’t so excited about the raw crumbs that really must be kept chilled, so I tweaked the recipe a bit and then went ahead and baked it lightly so it’s perfect at any temperature.

Gluten Free Lemon Cream Cake—an Olive Garden copycat recipe!

There are more than a couple ingredients to this cake, but that’s only because we’ve made it from scratch unlike every other recipe I found. If you’d prefer to use a boxed cake mix, you’ll need 24 ounces of white gluten free cake mix, and you’ll have to adjust the wet ingredients required to make the cake accordingly. I took my Make-Your-Own Gluten Free Vanilla Cake Mix from my second book, scaled it up by 50%, and then adjusted the eggs to make a white cake instead of a yellow one.

Gluten Free Lemon Cream Cake—an Olive Garden copycat recipe!
The result? The Olive Garden gluten free lemon cream cake of your dreams. Incredibly tender and moist white cake with tons of lemon flavor, filled with light and bright lemon cream and topped with lemony crumb topping. The cakes can be made ahead, then cooled and frozen. The crumb topping can be made ahead, too, and just stored covered at room temperature for at least a few days. Assemble the cake soon before you serve it, and if you store it in the refrigerator be sure to allow it to sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes before serving. Cakes made with butter taste dry when chilled. Let’s celebrate spring in style!

Like this recipe?

Prep time: Cook time: Yield: 19-inch layer cake


For the cakes
2 1/4 cups (315 g) all purpose gluten free flour (I used my Better Than Cup4Cup blend)

1 teaspoon xanthan gum (omit if your blend already contains it)

9 tablespoons (54 g) nonfat dry milk, ground into a finer powder (try using blanched almond flour 1:1 instead)

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

12 tablespoons (168 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar

1 large egg (50 g, weighed out of shell) + 3 egg whites (75 g) at room temperature, beaten

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 cup (8 fluid ounces) lukewarm water

For the crumb topping
1/2 cup (70 g) all purpose gluten free flour (I used Better Batter)

1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum (omit if your blend already contains it)

1/2 cup (58 g) confectioners’ sugar

1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

4 tablespoons (56 g) unsalted butter, melted

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

For the lemon cream filling
1 1/2 cups (12 fluid ounces) heavy whipping cream, chilled

1 8-ounce package cream cheese, at room temperature

5 tablespoons (70 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

4 cups (460 g) confectioners’ sugar

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Finely grated zest of 1 lemon

For assembling
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, for brushing

1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest, for sprinkling (optional)


  • Preheat your oven to 350°F. Grease two 9-inch round baking pans and set them aside.

  • First, make the cakes. In a large bowl, place the flour blend, xanthan gum, nonfat dry milk, baking powder, baking soda and salt, and whisk to combine well. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or a large bowl with a hand mixer, place the butter and beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes). Add the sugar, eggs and vanilla, beating on medium-high speed until well-combined after each addition. Add the dry ingredients and the water, alternating between the two and beginning and ending with the flour, beating on medium speed to combine after each addition. The batter will be light and fluffy and may seem a bit curdled (which is fine!). Divide the cake batter evenly among the two prepared cake pans and shake into an even layer in each. Place in the center of the preheated oven and bake, rotating once, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached (about 25 minutes). Remove the cakes from the oven and allow to cool in the pans for 10 minutes before inverting onto wire racks to cool completely.

  • Make the crumb topping. Place the flour and confectioners’ sugar in a medium-size bowl and whisk to combine well. Add the butter, vanilla and lemon juice and mix to combine. The dough will be thick. Place it between two small sheets of unbleached parchment paper and roll out into a rough rectangle about 1/4-inch thick. Remove the top sheet of parchment paper and transfer the dough still on the bottom sheet of parchment to a small rimmed baking sheet. Place in the center of the preheated oven and bake for 7 minutes, or until just beginning to brown on the edges. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the baking sheet for about 10 minutes before breaking and crumbling into small pieces. Set aside.

  • Make the lemon cream filling. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or a large bowl with a hand mixer, place the heavy whipping cream and beat on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form (about 5 minutes). Scrape the whipped cream into a separate bowl and place it in the refrigerator to chill. In the same mixer bowl, place the cream cheese and butter and beat (with the paddle attachment if using a stand mixer) until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes). Add the salt and confectioners’ sugar, and beat on low speed until the sugar is absorbed into the cream cheese-butter mixture. Add the lemon juice and lemon zest, turn the mixer up to high speed and continue to beat until the frosting is light and fluffy (about 3 more minutes). Remove the whipped cream from the refrigerator and fold it into the cream cheese frosting.

  • Assemble the cake. Place one of the cooled 9-inch cakes, still upside down, in the center of a serving platter. Brush the exposed side of the cake with lemon juice and place about one-half of the lemon cream filling on top. Spread into an even layer all the way up to the edge of the cake, and top with the other cooled 9-inch cake, still upside down. Brush the exposed side of the top cake with lemon juice and cover the whole cake, top and sides, with a very thin layer of the filling. This is the crumb coat. Place the cake in the freezer for 10 minutes (or the refrigerator for about 20 minutes) or until the crumb coat is firm to the touch. Remove from the refrigerator or freezer and cover with the remaining filling on the top and sides. Sprinkle the top and sides of the cake with the crumb topping, pressing the crumbs gently into the frosting/filling to adhere. Sprinkle with the optional lemon zest. Chill the cake for 10 minutes to make slicing and serving easier.

  • Adapted heavily from Food.com.



P.S. For more gluten free copycat recipes, pick up your copy of Gluten Free Classic Snacks today. Your support means everything to me!

Comments are closed.

  • Beth Kakuma-Depew
    April 30, 2015 at 1:43 PM

    Hi, my family has lactose intolerance issues as well as nut allergies. What can I substitute for the powdered milk beside blanched almonds?

  • Lauren
    April 29, 2015 at 12:35 PM

    First, this is beautiful, and of course you knew I was craving lemon again. Second, I didn’t get much sleep last night. I thought I was doing fine until I thought I read: “So I *twerked* the recipe a bit…” 0.0 Nicole, you’re awesome and talented, and I like that you’re becoming famous and doing some cool marketing. But let me just be the first to say we love you as you are, and we really don’t need a recipe twerking video! Promise!

    • Lucy
      April 29, 2015 at 5:32 PM

      Twerking video…lol :)

  • Samantha
    April 29, 2015 at 12:28 PM

    I LOVE lemon!! I can’t wait to try this…thanks for another great recipe! Also, your new book should arrive any day now!!! I can’t wait to get my hands on it :)

  • youngbaker2002
    April 29, 2015 at 12:14 PM

    Hi Nicole! This looks absolutely gorgeous! It has been added to the ever growing list of things to make. our doughnut maker arrived this morning! we’re going to make the hostess powdered sugar ones first. thank you! -Mena

    • April 29, 2015 at 4:23 PM

      Love that little donut maker, Mena!!

  • Mare Masterson
    April 29, 2015 at 11:17 AM

    “Key Lime” pie, lemon cake…back to back even! Oh you are really making it hard for me to watch my carbs! I can only make 1 on Sunday. Which one will I choose?

  • Lucy
    April 29, 2015 at 9:25 AM

    Yum! The recipe looks delightful another one for the recipe book…we all love everything lemony. Thanks Nicole :)

  • Jennifer S.
    April 29, 2015 at 9:05 AM

    oh boy! I really love lemon stuff and that Olive Garden cake was super yummy. Thanks for another homerun – I can’t wait to make it!

    • April 29, 2015 at 9:36 AM

      This one is right up Jennifer Alley!!

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