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The Best Lemon Roll Cake

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This is our favorite lemon roll cake, a soft and delightful sponge filled with fresh and tangy lemon curd.

rolled cake filled with lemon curd and sprinkled with icing sugar.

This lemon roll cake is the best! An incredibly flavorful, tangy lemon Swiss roll that everybody loves. There are no surprises here. The sponge is fluffy, tender, and sweet, and the filling is lemony, zesty, tangy, and creamy.

A beautiful and easy-to-make dessert bursting with flavor and perfect for the season. And if you like Swiss rolls or roll cakes, check out our Cream Roll with Strawberries, the Easy Raspberry Roulade, or the Strawberry Basil Cake.

Expert tips

  • All ingredients should be at room temperature.
  • Make sure that you prepare the baking sheet and preheat the oven in time; mixing the simple ingredients will be quick, and the cake batter needs to be baked as soon as it’s ready. If it waits around for the oven to get hot, it will not rise nicely anymore.
  • Rolling the cake roll while hot will prevent it from cracking. Leave to cool completely before filling.
swiss roll with lemon filling on a platter.

Recipe ingredients

  • Butter:  I use unsalted butter and add a tiny pinch of sea salt. Regular salted butter might be too salty; I would not use it to make the filling for this lemon roll cake.
  • Lemons: Two medium to large unwaxed, organic lemons as you will need their zest. Wash and dry them well before zesting. If you want to decorate the lemon cake roll with some fresh slices, you will need one extra lemon.
  • Eggs: You will need two eggs for the filling and four eggs for the sponge.
  • Flour: I prefer to use cake flour in baking; it makes the baked goods airier. However, all-purpose flour is fine as well.
  • Sugar: You will need granulated sugar for the curd and the sponge, icing sugar for the towel, and for dusting the roll cake before serving.

Step-by-step instructions

How to make the lemon filling?

  • Lemons: Wash, dry, zest, and juice them.
  • Heat butter, sugar, lemon zest, juice, and salt in a heatproof bowl at bain-marie.
  • Add strained eggs and stir continuously with a wooden spoon until the mixture thickens slightly and becomes opaque (1). You should be able to trace a path with your finger on the curd on the wooden spoon (2).
  • Cover the curd with cling film and let cool completely.
  • You can make the filling several days in advance and keep it refrigerated.
collage of two pictures of cooking lemon curd and showing how thick it is on a wooden spoon.

How to make the sponge?

  • Preheat the oven to 200°C/ 400°F. Line a baking tray with parchment paper.
  • Beat egg whites with sugar until stiff and glossy. Set aside (3).
  • Whisk the egg yolks and 2 tablespoons of sugar in a separate bowl until foamy (4).
collage of two pictures of stiff egg whites in one bowl and beatedn yolks with sugar in another bowl.
  • Mix flour and cornstarch in a small bowl. Sieve the flour mixture over the sugar mixture (5).
  • Add 1/3 of the egg whites and mix.
  • Add the remaining egg whites and fold in gently (6).
collage of two pictures of adding flour to batter and mixing.
  • Bake the batter (7) on the prepared baking sheet for 8 to 10 minutes until golden (8).
collage of two pictures of sponge cake before and after baking on a tray.
  • Sprinkle a clean kitchen towel with icing sugar. Turn the baked cake onto the kitchen towel with the baking paper facing up. Peel off the paper carefully (9), then immediately roll the cake with the help of the towel (10).
  • Leave it to get completely cool (it will take about 1 hour).
  • You can bake the cake roll one day in advance and keep it wrapped in the towel at room temperature.
collage of two pictures of peeling paper off cake and rolling it in a towel.

How to assemble the roll cake?

  • Unroll the cake and cover it with the lemon curd (11).
  • Roll the cake again and wrap it in clingfilm (12).
  • Refrigerate for 2 to 4 hours.
  • Dust with icing sugar and decorate with lemon slices (if desired).
collage of two pictures of spreading lemon curd on roll and rolled cake.

Recipe FAQ

Can I make the Swiss roll ahead?

Yes. You can prepare it a day ahead and keep it refrigerated.
You can also cook the lemon filling several days in advance and keep it in a jar in the refrigerator.
The sponge can be made one day in advance. Keep it rolled in the towel at room temperature.

How to store it?

Refrigerate it for 2-3 days.
Freeze the leftover slices individually for up to 3 months. Freeze them solid on a baking tray, then transfer them to an airtight container or freezer bag. Defrost the pieces on a plate in a single layer.

Can I add berries?

Yes!!! My favorite would be fresh raspberries; I think that raspberries and lemon curd are a match made in heaven. Check out the Raspberry Tartlets or the Raspberry Lemon Curd Cake; they are amazing!
You can also add chopped strawberries (or peaches), blueberries, or blackberries.

lemon cake roll sprinkled with icing sugar and topped with small lemon slices.

More lemon cakes

Do you like this recipe?

Please leave a good rating in the recipe card below. Stay in touch through social media: Pinterest, Facebook, and Instagram. Don’t forget to tag me #whereismyspoon when you try a recipe!
swiss roll with lemon filling on a platter.

The Best Lemon Roll Cake

This is our favorite lemon roll cake, a soft and delightful sponge filled with fresh and tangy lemon curd.
4.67 from 3 votes
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Course: Cakes
Cuisine: British
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 10
Calories: 248kcal
Author: Adina

Equipment

  • 1 Baking tray
  • 1 Heatproof bowl
  • 1 Pan

Ingredients 

Lemon curd (Note 1):

  • 150 g butter unsalted 5 ½ oz/ 2/3 cup
  • 150 g sugar 5 ½ oz/ ¾ cup
  • a tiny pinch of salt
  • 2 medium to large lemons zest and juice, Note 2
  • 2 eggs large, room temperature

Sponge:

  • 4 eggs large
  • 4 tablespoons granulated sugar divided
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • a pinch of salt
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2-3 teaspoons icing sugar for the towel

Garnish:

  • 1-2 teaspoons icing sugar
  • lemon slices optional

Instructions

Lemon curd:

  • Wash and dry the lemon. Zest them first, then halve them and juice them.
  • Place the diced butter, sugar, salt, lemon zest, and juice into a heatproof bowl.
  • Bring a pan of water to a gentle simmer. Place the bowl on top; its bottom should not touch the water.
  • Heat the ingredients, stirring often, until the sugar dissolves.
  • Eggs: In the meantime, beat the eggs and strain them into another small bowl.
  • Add them to the sugar mixture and stir continuously until it thickens slightly and becomes opaque. You should be able to trace a path with your finger on the curd on the spoon (See picture in the blog post).
  • Transfer the curd to a clean bowl, place a piece of clingfilm directly onto the surface of the curd and let cool completely.

Sponge:

  • Preheat the oven to 200°C/ 400°F. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
  • Egg whites: Separate the eggs. Beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt until quite stiff. Gradually add 2 tablespoons of the granulated sugar and beat until glossy and stiff. Set aside.
  • Egg yolks: In another bowl, whisk the egg yolks and 2 tablespoons of sugar until foamy.
  • Combine: Mix the flour, baking powder, and the cornstarch and sieve everything over the egg yolk-sugar mixture. Add 1/3 of the egg whites and incorporate. Add the remaining egg whites and fold in gently.
  • Bake: Spread the batter onto the prepared baking tray and bake for 8 to 10 minutes until golden.
  • Roll sponge: In the meantime, place a clean kitchen towel on the table and sprinkle it with the icing sugar. Turn the baked cake onto the kitchen towel with the baking paper facing up. Peel off the parchment paper carefully, then immediately roll the cake with the help of the towel. Leave it to get completely cool (it will take about 1 hour).

Assemble the roll cake:

  • Unroll the cake.
  • Spread the lemon curd evenly on it.
  • Roll the cake again. Wrap in plastic foil/cling film and place on a platter.
  • Refrigerate for 2 to 4 hours or until nicely set. Remove the plastic wrap and place the cake back onto the serving platter.
  • Dust with icing sugar and decorate with lemon slices (if desired).

Notes

  1. Always use a digital kitchen scale in baking; it guarantees for best results (Amazon affiliate link).
  2. It’s preferable to use organic, unwaxed lemons, as you will need the zest.

Nutrition

Serving: 1slice | Calories: 248kcal | Carbohydrates: 27g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 130mg | Sodium: 156mg | Potassium: 73mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 21g | Vitamin A: 522IU | Vitamin C: 11mg | Calcium: 37mg | Iron: 1mg
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Recipe Rating




Dedi

Friday 23rd of September 2022

Your written recipe include baking powder, but you don't mention it in the written instructions, nor in the illustrated instructions. Is baking powder to be included or not????

Adina

Friday 23rd of September 2022

Yes, sorry, it slipped in the instructions.