I’ve made this lemon bundt cake recipe for my family many times over the years. The original recipe is from Ina Garten but I’ve made a few of my own tweaks along the way. It’s always a guaranteed crowd-pleaser and anyone who loves lemony desserts will thank you for making this. Even the non-lemon lovers in your life will like this one. These mini Lemon Bundt Cakes are tart and tangy without being overwhelming and balanced out with some sweetness.
Every element, from the cake to the lemon syrup to the cream cheese glaze, has just the right amount of fresh, tart lemon incorporated. The different textures are one of my favorite parts about the cake and altogether they create the most perfect bite. Tender, moist cake on the inside, with a slight sugary crunch on the outside, and topped with a smooth, creamy glaze. It’s all infused with the freshest lemon flavor.
Ingredients for Lemon Bundt Cakes
Fresh lemons are the key to this recipe! They are the star of the show. You’ll use both the zest and the juice which are what brings all the flavor to give it the freshness and zing. If you don’t have fresh lemons, I recommend waiting to make this until you can get some. Any substitute for fresh lemon juice and zest will alter the taste of the recipe. Here are all the ingredients you’ll need to make sure you have on hand for this recipe:
- Baking Powder + Baking Soda
- Vanilla Extract
- Cream Cheese
- Powdered Sugar
Components to Make the Perfect Mini Lemon Bundt Cakes
For the lemon cake
The lemon cake batter starts by mixing sugar with lemon zest. I like to rub the mixture between my fingertips to help release the oils from the lemon zest in order to get every bit of flavor. You’ll cream this well with the butter then add the eggs, followed by the wet and dry ingredients. You’ll want to mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together and alternate between adding it with the lemon juice, buttermilk, and vanilla mixed together. Start and end with the flour so you’ll have 3 additions of the dry ingredients and 2 additions of the wet ingredients. This will ensure that you don’t incorporate too much liquid at once and curdle or break the batter.
for the lemon syrup
The lemon syrup is a sticky, sweet, mixture of sugar and lemon juice, which is essentially a lemon simple syrup. You’ll soak the cakes with this before turning them out of the pans and then brush more on, once they’re flipped out of the pans. It adds extra moistness and soaks into each crevasse of the bundt forming a subtle crust on the outer layer, which complements the tender cake nicely.
for the lemon glaze
The lemon cream cheese glaze starts out as an icing consistency and then gets warmed up to create a smooth glaze to pour over the cakes. The key to getting the mixture smooth is to beat the cream cheese and butter together until no lumps remain, before adding the powdered sugar, lemon zest, and juice. I heat the icing up in the microwave for about 20 seconds at a time, stirring in between each increment. I like to use a wire rack set over parchment paper to set the cakes on for glazing. This will catch any icing drips and make for easier cleanup. Then drizzle away, as much or as little as you’d like.
Tips for the Perfect Bundt Cakes
Bundt pans can definitely be tricky and even a little nerve-wracking when trying to get them out of the pans with every crumb intact. I’ve had more than my fair share ruined. All of that time and effort, just to end up with half the cake stuck in the pan. Follow these tips to help avoid this:
- Butter and flour the pans really well. It’s worth spending the time on this step. Room temperature butter works best and you’ll want to brush on a generous, even layer. Make sure you get every crevasse and indentation in the pan covered. Then immediately follow it up with flour. Rotate the pan on its side while tapping the pan so the flour covers every spot of butter.
- Pour the hot syrup over the hot cake. I’ve found that having the cake and the syrup both hot when pouring it on gets the best results. It’s also crucial to only let the cake cool for about 10 minutes after pouring on the syrup, before flipping the cake out of the pans. You may need to tap the bundt pan a few times on your counter but it should pop out easily at this point.
- Use a good quality bundt pan. One made of silicone or a high-quality nonstick metal pan will yield the best results. I’ve had the most trouble with well-aged bundt pans that were nonstick at one point but had worn off or been chipped away. Investing in a new, high-quality pan is definitely worth it!
But if the worst case happens and the cake sticks to your pan and it does not look like it could pass off as a bundt cake, don’t panic! You can still turn it into a delicious and beautiful trifle. Simply layer broken-up pieces of the cake with the lemon cream cheese glaze and finish with fresh lemon slices. It will still taste so good and no one will even know what it should have been.
More Lemon Recipes You’ll Love
I hope you enjoy these mini Lemon Bundt Cakes as much as my family and I do. Happy cake baking!
Lemon Bundt Cakes
- 1/2 cup (1 stick or 113g) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus 2 Tablespoons for greasing pans
- 1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
- 3 Tablespoons lemon zest, from about 3 lemons
- 2 larger eggs, at room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups (195 grams) all-purpose flour, plus 2 Tablespoons for coating pans
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons (88mL) buttermilk, at room temperature
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup (115g) lemon juice
Lemon Cream Cheese Glaze:
- 4 ounces (117g) cream cheese, at room temperature
- 5 Tablespoons (70g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2 cups (250g) powdered sugar
- 1 Tablespoon lemon zest
- 1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Generously butter and flour four 4-inch bundt pans. Alternatively, you can grease and flour one loaf pan that measures 8 1/2-inches by 4 1/4-inches.
- Lemon Cake: Combine the sugar and lemon zest with your fingers, rubbing to release the oils in the zest.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and the sugar mixed with the lemon zest until fluffy and light in color, about 2-3 minutes.
- With the mixer on medium speed, add the eggs one at a time, combining well after each addition. Scrape the bowl well.
- Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Combine the lemon juice, buttermilk, and vanilla. Alternate adding the flour and buttermilk mixtures, starting and ending with the flour. Mix until just combined after each addition and scrape down the bowl a few times during the process.
- Divide the batter evenly between the four bundt pans. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the cake springs back to the touch or a toothpick comes out clean. If baking in a loaf pan, the baking time will be around 45 minutes.
- Lemon Syrup: Combine the sugar and lemon juice in a saucepan. Cook on low until the mixture simmers.
- Pour half of the hot lemon syrup over the cakes, as soon as they come out of the oven (before turning out of the pans). Let the cakes cool for 10 minutes then flip each bundt onto parchment and tap to gently remove from pans. Brush the tops of the cakes with the second half of the syrup. If using a loaf pan, you can pour all of the syrup over the top and sides to let it run to the bottom of the pan.
- Lemon Cream Cheese: Combine the cream cheese and butter with an electric mixer until well combined and smooth with no lumps remaining gin. Add the powdered sugar, lemon zest, and lemon juice mixing just until fully combined.
- Warm up the Lemon Cream Cheese in the microwave in 20-second increments, stirring in between until it reaches a pourable, glaze-like consistency. Drizzle the icing over the cakes, top each with a fresh lemon slice, and enjoy!