magic lemon cake

Magic Lemon Cake

What’s a magic lemon cake? I’m so glad you asked.

I wanted to tweak my family’s favorite snack cake – Magic Chocolate Cake – and make a lemon version. What’s magical about it? This is a cake that tastes great, is dead simple to make, uses pantry ingredients, and only one bowl. There are NO eggs, NO milk, NO cream, NO butter – NO dairy products at all. NO cholesterol, if you use the right oil. You can make it right in the pan if you like – though I prefer using my trusty bowl.

So, as I said, I wanted a change from chocolate. How about lemon? Comparing it to the chocolate original, I added flour to substitute for the cocoa powder, and also added lemon juice powder, for a concentrated burst of lemon flavor.

Magic lemon cake may become a new family favorite! It’s a great change of pace. You might like to try a simple berry frosting (mix cream cheese, powdered sugar, and a bit of jam), or simply strew berries around the cake with a quick lemon glaze.

It’s still dead easy to make, still uses pantry ingredients, and is still very very quick. Need a cake within 45 minutes? This is your go-to recipe.

magic lemon cake

Magic Lemon Cake

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: pantry, easy, quick, cake, no eggs, no butter, no dairy, no cholesterol
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 24 minutes
Total Time: 39 minutes
Servings: 9 squares
No eggs, no butter, no milk: and a cake within 45 minutes!
Print Recipe


  • cup all-purpose flour -- PLUS 3 TBSP
  • 1 c granulated sugar
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lemon zest zest of 2 small lemons
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp lemon juice powder
  • 5 Tbsp oil
  • 1 Tbsp white vinegar
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 1 c water


  • Preheat oven to 350˚F. Grease an 8×8 square pan.
  • Put the dry ingredients in a large bowl, and whisk them well together. Combine the wet ingredients in a large measuring cup, and then quickly stir them into the dry and mix well, until very smooth. Work fast! Speed is important for this cake.
  • NOTE: you can put the mixed dry ingredients in a greased pan, make 3 wells, put oil, vinegar, and almond extract in each, then pour lemon juice + water over and mix rapidly with a fork – but I like mixing in the bowl better: I can do that faster.
  • Dump the batter in your greased pan, and get it right into the oven. Bake 35 minutes for an 8×8 square pan. Test as usual with a toothpick; it should come out moist but with no streaks of raw batter. Let stand on a rack to cool.
  • Frost or not, as your whim decides. This is fabulous with strawberries, or stewed rhubarb, or raspberry buttercream, or a simple lemon glaze.