Lemon cake with 4 ingredients without butter, oil or milk

This unique lemon cake is light, airy and moist. The surface has a delicate, sweet and crunchy crust, and underneath is a soft cake. This cake has only 4 ingredients and requires no butter, oil, milk or yeast. It is perfect for serving at special events.

a slice of cake on a plate.

This is the cake I plan to make for some upcoming holiday brunches and other events. It’s not like your typical cake but it’s so unique and delicious. The surface has a delicate sweet shell that cracks when you cut it. Under the shell there is a light and airy cake, similar to a sponge cake.


  • Egg
  • Sugar
  • Flour
  • Lemon

Eggs:  Eggs are used to create the structure of this cake. The eggs are whipped with sugar until they are more than triple in volume. This method is used for some sponge cakes.

Sugar:  This recipe uses regular granulated white sugar. It gives sweetness to the cake.

Flour:  This cake only needs regular all-purpose flour. I don’t recommend using any other type of flour because it will affect the texture of the cake.

Lemon:  You will need lemon juice and the zest of about two lemons.


This cake has a unique texture. The outside has a brown crust/shell. It is very delicate and will crack when cut into the cake. The texture of the crust is like a thin sweet wafer cookie. Under the shell there is an airy cake that has a consistency similar to a sponge cake.

This cake is not overly sweet and has a nice lemony flavor and scent.

This cake is a lemon variation of my  3 ingredient cake  .

lemon cake on a plate with a fork.


Make sure you whisk the eggs long enough. This is the key to getting the cake to rise properly. I beat mine for 10 minutes on the highest setting on my food processor. If you use a hand mixer, you may need to beat longer. The mixture will more than triple in volume, become very thick, and turn a very pale yellow. The mixture seems thick enough that it looks like it could turn into meringue. As soon as you stop the mixer, however, the mixture will immediately deflate and become more liquid and foamy, like this.

whisked eggs in a bowl.

You don’t need baking powder, baking soda or other leavening agents.

Be careful not to add too much lemon juice as it will affect the cake’s ability to rise properly.

This cake needs a few hours to cool, so I recommend making it the night before an event. Letting the cake cool will make cutting easier and will also allow the cracked surface to firm up more.

a whole lemon cake dusted with sugar with a lemon garnish.


servings:  8  SLICES

preparation time:  20  MINUTES

cooking time:  30  MINUTES

total time:  50  MINUTES

course:  SWEET

cuisine:  AMERICAN

This unique lemon cake is perfect to serve for special events like holiday brunches, family gatherings and more. There are only 4 ingredients. The cake is light and airy and has a delicate sweet and crunchy crust.

4.50  from  2  votes


  • 3  large  eggs  straight from the fridge
  • 1  cup (195 g)  granulated white sugar
  • 1/4  cup (59 ml)  lemon juice + 1 tablespoon (5 g) lemon zest
  • 1  cup (128 g)  all-purpose flour


  • Preheat the oven to 177°C (350°F). Grease the inside of a 7.5-inch round cake pan (you can also use a 7-inch or 8-inch pan) and then line the bottom with parchment paper. Make sure the sides of the pan are well greased, otherwise the cake will stick.
  • In a large bowl, add the eggs and sugar. Beat on high speed for about 10 minutes or until the mixture becomes very thick and turns a very pale yellow and more than triples in volume. Once you stop beating, the mixture will deflate immediately. It’s normal. See the notes section for more details.
  • Add the lemon juice and zest. Beat the mixture for a few seconds until completely incorporated.
  • Use a mesh strainer or flour sieve to sift 1/3 of the flour into the egg mixture. You need to sift the flour so that you can incorporate the flour into the egg mixture without deflating too much air from the egg mixture. Use a spatula to fold the flour into the egg mixture. Fold until the flour is fully incorporated and no lumps of flour are visible. Repeat with another 1/3 of the flour and then the final 1/3.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for about 30-35 minutes (mine was done at 33 minutes). If you are using a 7 inch pan you may need a little longer and if you are using an 8 inch pan you may need to reduce the time by a few minutes. The surface of the cake should be light brown. An inserted toothpick should come out clean (be careful when inserting the toothpick as you don’t want to break the shell too much. It’s very delicate and will break easily).
  • Allow the cake to cool completely before removing. It is best to let the cake cool for several hours as this will make it easier to cut and cause the shell to firm up more. If desired, dust the cake with icing sugar before serving. Cut the cake slowly and gently with a sharp knife so that the top layer of the shell does not crack too much and the sponge layer does not get crushed.


  • The cake needs a few hours to cool. I usually prepare it the night before serving it.
  • You need to make sure your eggs are whipped to the right consistency. Your mixture should look like it’s turning into a meringue and more than triple in volume. When you turn off the whisk, the mixture will quickly go down and become more liquid and frothy again. See the photo in the post for reference.
  • Be sure to gently fold in the flour so you don’t deflate the egg mixture too much.
  • Be careful not to add too much lemon juice. I found that 1/4 cup was the right amount without affecting the texture of the cake. You can use less but no more than 1/4 cup.
  • I used US standard large eggs.
  • You can do this in an 8-inch springform pan, but your cake won’t be as thick and you’ll need to reduce the baking time.