Olive Garden Lemon Cream Cake

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Bring a bit of Olive Garden to your home kitchen with this indulgent, vibrantly lemon flavored cake highlighted by a creamy filling and buttery crumb top.

Copycat Olive Garden lemon cream cake on a cake stand.Copycat Olive Garden lemon cream cake on a cake stand.

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Italian lemon cream cake at Olive Garden

Olive Garden offers a lot more than just pasta. This beloved Italian-American chain serves some truly mouthwatering desserts to help diners cap off their taste of the “Old Country.” One of the most popular is Olive Garden’s Lemon Cream Cake, a decadent and visually impressive treat for lovers of sweets everywhere.

What makes the Olive Garden Lemon Cream Cake the perfect lemon cake 

Olive Garden’s lemon cream cake is so beloved because of the delicate but indulgent flavors that define it. It’s hard to match the creaminess of mascarpone cheese, which is infused with lemon juice, extract, and zest, while multiple sources of lemon flavor also permeate the cake itself.

There’s even lemony sweetness in the crumb topping, making this cake an ideal choice for those who can’t get enough citrus flavor alongside their sweet treats. 

Why you’ll love this recipe

Don’t be fooled by the impressive appearance of this cake. It’s surprisingly straightforward to make, with only one layer of cake to bake and little equipment required beyond a stand mixer and springform pan. Plus, with the exception of mascarpone cheese, all of the ingredients are easy to find at any grocery store or supermarket. 

Ingredients you’ll need

Here’s a list of what you’ll need to craft this deliciously sweet and refreshing copycat Olive Garden lemon cream cake.

  • Whole milk
  • Eggs
  • Vanilla extract
  • Lemon extract
  • Unsalted butter
  • Sugar
  • Self-rising flour
  • All-purpose flour
  • Kosher salt
  • Lemons (for zest and juice)
  • Mascarpone cheese
  • Heavy whipping cream
  • Powdered sugar
  • Limoncello

If you can’t track down any mascarpone cheese, you can substitute full-fat cream cheese. Full-fat is critical; low-fat cream cheese won’t create the proper texture.

You can also double the filling for an over-the-top super cake bursting with lemon cream.

Copycat Olive Garden lemon cream cake ingredients in bowls.Copycat Olive Garden lemon cream cake ingredients in bowls.

How to make lemon cream cake

Don’t be intimidated by the steps in this recipe; they’re relatively straightforward and worth the work when you’re digging into the final result. 

  1. Preheat the oven and grease the springform pan. 
  2. Whisk milk, egg whites, vanilla extract, and lemon extract in a medium bowl. 
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the self-rising flour, sugar, and salt. Add the softened butter to the dry ingredients, followed by about a quarter of the milk and egg mixture. 
  4. Beat on low for about a minute, then scrape the bowl. Continue beating on medium for two more minutes. Then, add the remaining milk-egg mixture and the lemon zest. 
  5. Beat again briefly, scrape the bowl a final time, then beat for a few more seconds.
  6. Pour the batter into the pan.
Preparing batter for copycat Olive Garden lemon cream cake.Preparing batter for copycat Olive Garden lemon cream cake.
  1. Bake until well-rise and golden brown, about 45 minutes. Rotate the pan about half an hour through to ensure even baking. 
  2. Remove the cake from the oven and run a knife along the sides to separate the cake from the cake pan. Disassemble the springform pan and allow the cake to cool.

Meanwhile, turn your attention to other parts of this tasty cake:

  1. To make the lemon filling, combine mascarpone cheese, whipping cream, powdered sugar, lemon zest, kosher salt, lemon extract, and fresh-squeeze lemon juice in a stand mixer bowl. 
  2. Beat with a whisk attachment until stiff peaks develop, scraping the bowl when needed. 
  3. Refrigerate this filling until you’re ready to assemble the cake. 
  4. Finally, make the crumb topping by mixing all-purpose flour, powdered sugar, lemon zest, cold butter, and kosher salt. Use your hands to integrate the butter until no pieces larger than a pea remain. Refrigerate until assembly.

All that’s left is to put these delicious pieces together:

  1. Slice the cooled cake in half, setting aside the top.
  2. Reserve 1¼ cups of filling, and spread the rest evenly over the bottom half of the cake. Cover it with the top half of the cake. Press the top down and refrigerate for about an hour.
  3. Remove the cake from the fridge and spread the remaining filling in a thin layer over the top and sides of the cake. 
  4. Press the crumb topping into the sides and top of the cake, covering as much of the surface as possible.
  5. Refrigerate the entire cake for at least 30 minutes before serving. Garnish with powdered sugar.  

It’s vital to use the correct 9-inch springform pan for this recipe, as other sizes and forms simply won’t achieve the same effect. 

Frosting a copycat Olive Garden lemon cream cake.Frosting a copycat Olive Garden lemon cream cake.

Recipe variations

For additional lemon flavor, brush limoncello (an Italian lemon-flavored liqueur) onto the bottom layer of the cake while assembling, as well as on top of the filling, to allow it to soak into the top layer. 

Copycat olive garden lemon cream cake on a cake stand and a lemon beside it.Copycat olive garden lemon cream cake on a cake stand and a lemon beside it.

What to serve with Olive Garden Lemon Cream Cake

Pair this indulgent cake with some fresh fruit, which can provide a sweet, more healthful complement to your dessert. It also pairs well with a variety of beverages, from a steaming cup of coffee or tea to a cold glass of milk. Those over the drinking age can also try an Italian after-dinner liqueur like limoncello or amaretto.

Copycat Olive Garden lemon cream cake slice on a plate in front of the cake.Copycat Olive Garden lemon cream cake slice on a plate in front of the cake.

How to store

If you’ve got leftover lemon cream cake, the good news is that it’s relatively simple to store. Just cover the cake with foil or plastic wrap or place it in an airtight container large enough for the remaining cake. Store it in the fridge.

Freezing isn’t typically recommended, as the dairy in the filling can degrade in quality and texture when thawed. 

How long will lemon cream cake last?

When stored correctly, this copycat Olive Garden cake will last three to five days in the fridge after baking. 

Copycat Olive Garden lemon cream cake and a lemon.Copycat Olive Garden lemon cream cake and a lemon.

Love Olive Garden? Try these copycat recipes!

Favorite Cake Recipes

Be sure to check out more of my easy cake recipes and the best Italian recipes right here on CopyKat!

Copycat Olive Garden lemon cream cake on a cake stand.Copycat Olive Garden lemon cream cake on a cake stand.

Olive Garden Lemon Cream Cake

An incredible Italian Lemon Cake with a creamy filling and buttery crumb topping. 

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Course: Dessert

Cuisine: American

Keyword: Lemon Cake, Lemon Cream Cake

Prep Time: 1 hour

Cook Time: 2 hours

Total Time: 3 hours

Servings: 12

Calories: 665kcal

Ingredients

Cake Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 6 egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon lemon extract
  • 6 ounces unsalted butter softened
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups self-rising flour sifted
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest

Lemon Cream Filling

  • 8 ounces mascarpone cheese
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 cups powdered sugar sifted
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon lemon extract
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Crumb Topping

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 3 ounces cold butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest

Instructions

Cake Directions

  • Grease a 9” springform pan and place it on a cookie sheet. Place a rack in the bottom third of your oven, and preheat to 325F. 
  • Whisk together the milk, egg whites, and extracts. Set aside close to your mixer. In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add sugar, self-rising flour, and salt. Beat briefly to combine evenly. Add the softened butter and about ¼ of the milk/egg white mixture. Starting on low speed, mix until combined, about 1 minute. Scrape the bowl. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 2 minutes to mix in some air and lighten the texture. Add the remaining wet ingredients and the zest and beat for about 30 seconds to blend in the liquid. Scrape bowl and beat a few more seconds. 

  • Scrape batter into prepared pan and bake until well-risen, domed, and golden brown, about 45 minutes. Check after 30 minutes and gently rotate the pan to ensure even baking. Tent foil over the pan if necessary to prevent over-browning. Cake is done when it is just starting to pull away from the sides of the pan and the top springs back when pressed lightly. Remove to a rack to cool for about 20 minutes. Run a thin knife around the inside of the pan to release the cake and then remove the springform sides. Allow cake to cool completely.

Lemon Cream Filling and Frosting

  • Combine all the filling ingredients in the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whip until the mixture just reaches stiff peaks. Scrape the bowl as necessary and, if using mascarpone, take care to not overwhip or the filling will become grainy. Refrigerate until ready to assemble the cake. 

Crumb Topping

  • Combine all the crumb ingredients in a medium bowl. Using your hands, mix/crumble together until there is no loose flour and none of the crumbs is larger than about the size of a chickpea. Refrigerate until ready to assemble the cake. 

Cake Assembly

  • Carefully slice the cake in half horizontally with a long serrated knife or with a cake leveler. Place the domed half on a plate. Keep the bottom half on the base of the springform pan and reattach the sides. (Optional) Brush half the limoncello evenly on the bottom layer of cake. Reserve 1 ¼ cups lemon cream filling and spread the remaining filling in a generous layer on top of the bottom layer. (Optional) Brush/drizzle the remaining limoncello on top of the filling so it will soak into the top layer. Place the top layer of cake on top of the filling, and press down gently. Refrigerate for about an hour to chill the filling. Remove the springform sides from the pan. 

  • Spread the reserved frosting in a very thin layer around the sides and on top of the cake. Don’t worry if a little cake shows through—it really will be a very thin layer of icing which will act as glue for the crumbs. Holding the cake at an angle over a tray with one hand, gather up a small handful of crumbs and press them into the side of the cake, letting the excess fall into the tray. Rotate the cake a little and press more crumbs into the side. Continue until you’ve covered all the sides with crumbs. Pour the remaining crumbs evenly on top of the cake. This will be a very generous layer. If you have any thin spots, fill in with any crumbs that fell onto the tray. Press the top crumbs into place and refrigerate until 30 minutes before serving. 

  • Garnish right before serving. Use a fine-mesh sieve to sift powdered sugar evenly over the top of the crumbs.

Notes

To make clean cuts when serving, use a long sharp knife with a thin blade and wipe the blade clean between cuts.
Store any leftover cake, covered, in the refrigerator.

Nutrition

Calories: 665kcal | Carbohydrates: 80g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 34g | Saturated Fat: 21g | Cholesterol: 93mg | Sodium: 248mg | Potassium: 92mg | Fiber: 0g | Sugar: 57g | Vitamin A: 1110IU | Vitamin C: 1.7mg | Calcium: 67mg | Iron: 0.6mg



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