This Lemon Cake with Strawberry Buttercream is not only a delicious cake, but it is also a surprise cake!  Creating a cake with a surprise on the inside is a fun way to delight your family!  The delicious flavors of strawberry buttercream and lemon cake are sure to make this your new favorite cake! If you are looking for more great Cake Recipes, check these out!

Lemon Cake with Strawberry Buttercream

Lemon Cake

This lemon cake is flavored with lemon zest and lemon extract. I tried to keep it at all lemon juice and zest but found that I needed to take 2 tablespoons of lemon juice to achieve the lemon-y flavor and that ended up changing the consistency of the cake. It was not bad, just not as beautifully tall and aerated as I prefer. I also made this lemon cake a subtle lemon flavor.

If you want a bigger punch, taste your batter before baking! You can add more lemon extract to fit your preference.

If you are in a pinch and don’t have lemon extract, you can use fresh lemon juice. Here is a simple equivalency:

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice = 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract

1 teaspoon lemon zest = 1 teaspoon lemon extract

There is lemon zest and lemon extract in this cake. For this recipe specifically, you would use 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice instead of lemon extract, which is about 1 medium lemon.

I also use cake flour. If you don’t happen to have any, you can make your own! Homemade Cake Flour Recipe <—

Lemon Cake Strawberry Buttercream

How to Make Lemon Surprise Cake

Begin by preparing the lemon cakes. This is a big recipe as you are making 4 full layers.

Easy Lemon Layer Cake with Strawberry Buttercream

Fill each pan about a 1/3 way full and no more than 1/2 way full.

Bake according to recipe instructions, seen below.

How to Make a Surprise Cake

Once cakes have baked and cooled, level each cake to the same height.

Using your round cookie cutter, remove the center portion on two cake layers. This will hold our strawberries once the cake is assembled. (and feel free to make a trifle with the cutout sections!) You can also use a small side plate as a guideline for removing the sections of cake; just center it on the cake and then use a sharp knife to cut around.

Strawberry Buttercream

How to Make Strawberry Buttercream

Strawberries go for about $5 a container at my local grocery store and lemons are $1 each!  Because I didn’t win the lottery recently,  I splurged and got just one lemon and opted to use this great recipe for easy strawberry buttercream. Hoping strawberries go on sale soon!

As I mentioned, I compromised and made a recipe utilizing strawberry jam instead of fresh.  This worked beautifully!  I was able to get the sweet hint of strawberries and not break the bank.

To Make This Strawberry Buttercream You Will Need:

  • butter
  • vanilla
  • strawberry jam
  • confectioners sugar
  • milk

Mix the ingredients together in s a stand mixer (follow the recipe for specifics) and then let it whip on high for at least 2 minutes. This is where you get the beautifully light and aerated frosting that is easily spread on a cake. Be sure to taste test as you go. If you want more strawberry flavor you can add in a little strawberry extract!

Tips for Surprise Inside Cakes

Begin by placing a whole layer on your cake stand and covering with about 1/3 cup strawberry buttercream. The next layer is a cutout section. Be sure to spread the strawberry buttercream around the edges of each layer.

Add the next cutout layer then fill with chopped strawberries. (or you can add chopped strawberries as you go). Place the final full layer on top.

How to Frost a Layer Cake

Cover cake with remaining strawberry buttercream. To create the rustic design, simply use your offset spatula to make “C’s” in the frosting. It’s also called “swoops” through the frosting.

Cover top of the cake with strawberries and chill until ready to serve. (Up to 48 hours refrigerated)

Lemon Cake with a fruity Surprise Inside!

Cut cake as you normally would, but be prepared for oohs and aahs! I usually keep a spoon nearby and scoop up any strawberry bits that might fall out. That way everyone can get enough strawberries for every bite!

Quick & Easy Version

If you happen to want to make this cake even EASIER, use this recipe for Lemon Surprise Cake. It’s just a few simple ingredients! Your layers will be thinner and the bake time is 12-18, but it will taste just as amazing!

Strawberry Lemon Surprise Cake

Love Lemon? Check Out These Great Lemon Recipes!

Blueberry Lemon Heaven Dessert

Lemon Mousse

Ooey Gooey Lemon Cookies

Strawberry Lemon Cupcakes

Lemon Cake with Strawberry Buttercream
5 from 1 vote

Strawberry Lemon Surprise Cake

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Creating a cake with a surprise on the inside is a fun way to delight your family!
The technique is easy to do and when paired with delicious summer flavors like strawberry and lemon, this is sure to be your new favorite cake! 



  • 5 cups sifted cake flour
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks or 226g) butter, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons lemon zest
  • 3 ½ cups granulated sugar
  • 6 eggs, room temperature
  • 2 ¼ cups whole milk, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract
  • 2 cups chopped strawberries, plus more strawberries for garnish

Strawberry Buttercream:

  • ½ cup (1 stick or 113g) butter, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/3 cup strawberry jam or preserves
  • 4-5 cups confectioners sugar
  • 1 tablespoon whole milk



  • Line four 9-inch round pans with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 350°F (175 degrees C).
  • Measure sifted flour, baking powder, and salt: sift together.
  • Cream butter and lemon zest together in the bowl of a stand mixer or hand-held mixer for about 3 minutes.
  • Gradually add sugar, creaming until light and fluffy.
  • Add eggs one at a time, beating thoroughly after each addition.
  • Add lemon extract to the milk and stir.
  • Add sifted ingredients alternately with milk to the creamed mixture, a small amount at a time; gently mix after each addition until smooth.
  • Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until an inserted toothpick is removed clean.
  • Cool on wire racks.

Strawberry Buttercream:

  • Place butter, vanilla and jam in a stand mixer with the whisk attachment. Whisk on medium-high for 1-2 minutes, or until fully incorporated.
  • With the mixer on low, add in sugar, one cup at a time. When mixer starts to struggle, drizzle in milk one tablespoon at a time.
  • After all the milk has been added whisk buttercream on high for 1-2 minutes.

Did you make this recipe?

Thank you for making my recipe! You took pictures, right? Well go ahead and post them on Instagram! Be sure to mention me @iambaker and use the hashtag #YouAreBaker.

Share with your friends!

Categorized in: ,

Related Recipes

Meet Amanda Rettke

Amanda Rettke is the creator of I Am Baker, and the bestselling author of Surprise Inside Cakes: Amazing Cakes for Every Occasion – With a Little Something Extra Inside.Over the course of her 15+ year blogging adventure, she has been featured in and collaborated with the Food Network, New York Times, LA Times, Country Living Magazine, People Magazine, Epicurious, Brides, Romantic Homes, life:beautiful, Publishers Weekly, The Daily Mail, Star Tribune, The Globe and Mail, DailyCandy, YumSugar, The Knot, The Kitchn, and Parade, to name a few.

Reader Comments

  1. I’ve saved this recipe for a family reunion. Rather than lemon extract, I’m going to use “Truelemon” powder instead. Hopefully this will amp the sunny lemon flavor like juice but not effect the texture. I’m also considering subbing lime in place of the lemon components. Thanks for sharing this recipe!

  2. Can you add the measurements in grams? I’m trying to weigh everything like your chocolate cake with maple frosting that I love!

    1. If you look at the pictures, this is a surprise inside cake. The strawberries do into the hole in the middle of that cake.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.