This Copycat Olive Garden Lemon Cream Cake is completely homemade, and is every bit as good as the original—and dare I say, even better!
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My little family has been living in Japan for a little over 3 months now. While we absolutely love Japanese food, sometimes you just miss the comforts of “home”. I’ve been making a lot of Olive Garden copycat recipes lately like my Chicken and Gnocchi Soup, Zuppa Toscana, and Tuscan Garlic Chicken.
With Easter coming up, I wanted to make a cake that just screamed spring, but was still something that can be made all year-round. Olive Garden’s Lemon Cream Cake is just that! When I set out to find a good copycat recipe for this lemon cake, I noticed that ALL of them use a white cake mix. Now there’s nothing wrong with using a cake mix, I just prefer homemade cakes better. The white cake layer I adapted from my favorite white layer cake from Cook’s Country (you can never go wrong with one of their recipes!).
The next thing I noticed in all of the recipes on-line is that they all used cream cheese, or a mixture of cream cheese and pudding, or cream cheese and cool whip for the filling. I knew I could do better than that, so I used an authentic Italian ingredient, Mascarpone!
Lastly, while I love Olive Garden’s cake, I know I prefer it with a little extra lemon punch. Not too much now, because the beauty of this cake is its soft cake layers and subtle lemon flavor. If you’re going for a more authentic taste, then reduce the lemon zest to 1 teaspoon in the filling recipe below.
Now, I wouldn’t call this an exact replica of Olive Garden’s Lemon Cream Cake, because in all honesty I think it tastes better than theirs!
Cook’s Note – Copycat Olive Garden Lemon Cream Cake:
- This lemon cake will keep, covered in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- If you want the authentic look of Olive Garden’s cake, then using a springform pan like the recipe indicates will help give you the cake’s signature domed shape. If you do not have a spring-form pan, then two 9-inch cake pans can be used instead. Just reduce the cooking time to 20-25 minutes.
- If you make this cake ahead of time. Wait to dust it with powdered sugar until right before serving.
- I used mascarpone cheese for the filling of this lemon cream cake. If you’re unable to find it, or simply don’t like the taste of it, then you can use cream cheese instead.
Cook’s Tools – Copycat Olive Garden Lemon Cream Cake:
- 9-inch springform pan
- parchment paper
- large measuring cup
- mixing bowls
- handheld electric mixer or stand mixer
- wire rack
- cardboard round
- icing spatulas
- fine mesh strainer (for sifting the powdered sugar)
This Lemon Cream Cake is a bit labor intensive, but definitely SO worth it. Especially for special occasions, birthdays, or holidays like Easter! While this cake is a bit labor intensive, the baking skills needed to make it are pretty standard.
How to Make Olive Garden’s Lemon Cream Cake:
- FOR WHITE CAKE:
- 1 cup whole milk, room temperature
- 6 large egg whites, room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2¼ cups cake flour
- 1¾ cups granulated sugar
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 12 tablespoons unsalted butter cut into 24 pieces, softened but still cool
- FOR CRUMB TOPPING:
- ½ cup + 1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour
- ½ cup + 2 Tablespoons powdered sugar
- ½ Tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
- 4 tablespoons butter cut into 8 pieces, softened
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- FOR FILLING:
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 8 oz. container mascarpone cheese, softened
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 3 Tablespoons lemon juice
- ½ Tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
- FOR GARNISH:
- Sifted powdered sugar
- MAKE WHITE CAKE: Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease bottom of 9-inch springform pan. Line with parchment round, and lightly spray entire pan; set aside.
- In large measuring cup whisk together milk, egg whites, and vanilla; set aside.
- In large bowl whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt on low speed until combined. Add butter, 1 piece at a time, and mix with electric mixer until only pea-sized pieces of butter remain, about 1 minute.
- Pour in half of milk mixture, and mix on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 1 minutes. Reduce speed to medium-low, and add remaining milk mixture, and beat until incorporated, about 30 seconds.
- Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth top with rubber spatula. Bake until light golden, and toothpick inserted comes out clean, about 45-50 minutes, rotating halfway through baking.
- Cool cake cool on wire rack in pan for 20 minutes. Remove cake from pan, discarding parchment, and let cool completely on wire rack, about 2 hours.
- MAKE CRUMB TOPPING: Mix together flour, powdered sugar, and lemon zest in medium bowl. Cut in butter and vanilla until mixture is crumbly. Cover and place in refrigerator to chill.
- MAKE FILLING: Whip heavy cream until stiff peaks form; set aside. Beat mascarpone cheese, powdered sugar, lemon juice, and lemon zest on medium speed until smooth. Fold in whipped cream until combined.
- FINISH CAKE: Split cake horizontally, and place 1 layer on cardboard round. Reserve ½ cup of filling, and use the rest to fill the cake. Place second layer on top of the filling. Use reserved ½ cup filling to frost just the sides of the cake. Press crumb topping into sides of cake, and chill at least 1 hour. Dust top of cake with powdered sugar. Slice and serve.