Mamas Hot Lemon Cake

If I had nothing but time on my hands, I think it would be fun to open a lil’ cake shop. No, I’m not a classically trained pastry chef… or any kind of chef for that matter. I just love to bake. And I love sharing goodies and treats with friends. I most certainly get this from my sweet Mama, who demonstrated southern hospitality like no other. Its almost been a year since she went to heaven but I love to make her yummy recipes and carry on her legacy of sharing and hospitality.

Without question, her favorite recipe… the most requested and most crowd pleasing… is her Hot Lemon Cake!

Mama's Hot Lemon Cake

There’s nothing like it on the planet. Hot out of the oven… moist, lemony goodness. I wish I could serve you a piece right now. But since technology isn’t there yet please take this recipe and make someone’s day. Or make it just for you. It’s ok, I won’t tell.


  • For the cake:
  • 1 box of DUNCAN HINES BUTTER RECIPE CAKE MIX (do NOT deviate from that brand or flavor….results will NOT be as good!)
  • 1 cup of sour cream
  • ¼ cup milk, preferably whole
  • ¼ cup white sugar
  • ½ cup oil, canola or veggie
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp lemon extract
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • liberal amount of non-stick BAKING spray (with flour in it)

For the glaze:

  • 3 tbsp butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup juice of fresh lemon (usually 2 lemons)
  • 3 cups confectioners sugar

Mama's Hot Lemon Cake

GASP! A cake mix? I know. I’ve attempted tweaking this recipe to not use a mix but guess what? It’s not as good. I’m not a fan of store bought baked goods. Frosting-in-a-can gives me nightmares. However, adding certain ingredients to a Duncan Hines (brand loyalty) cake mix? Totally acceptable. So baking snobs: trust me!

A note about lemons: I suggest using regular lemons over meyer lemons for this recipe. I’ve used both and prefer the flavor and zest of regular.

This recipe works best in a bundt pan, but also works in a 13 x 9 pan. I highly recommend a decorative bundt pan to give the cake more texture. Not to mention how pretty it looks! This is my go-to lemon cake pan. You can get one similar here.

Mama's Hot Lemon Cake


Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Pour the dry cake mix into a bowl and ignore box instructions.

Add in all other ingredients, except for the lemon juice and zest.

Mix on high for about 2 minutes.

Then add zest and juice of 1 lemon and mix by hand until well blended. I prefer the style of the pampered chef zester because you get longer ribbons of zest which is prettier. However, a microplane zester can do the job just fine.

Mama's Hot Lemon Cake

Spray cake pan liberally with non-stick baking spray. I use Baker’s Joy. Regular non-stick cooking spray (like regular Pam) will not work. I learned this the hard way.

Pour batter into cake pan.

Mama's Hot Lemon Cake

Bake for 45-60 minutes, depending on thickness of pan and your oven, or until toothpick comes out clean.
baker’s tip: reserve a small amount of batter and pour into a tiny cake pan. This makes a perfect “tester” cake to ensure “quality control” of course! Also a favorite of a baker’s little helper!

While cake is baking, mix glaze by combining the melted butter, juice and confectioners sugar into a bowl and stirring well by hand. Mix until the consistency of pancake batter. Pourable. Glaze should be tart and sweet. Add more lemon juice or sugar to taste.

Mama's Hot Lemon Cake

Once cake is done, remove from oven and wait one minute then flip onto cooling rack. Cool for 4 to 5 minutes on the rack. This will allow outer crust to get a lil crunchy which is great! (If baking in 13×9 pan, you can keep the cake in the pan. You won’t get the crunchier crust but the cake is still delicious. And the pan traps the extra glaze so the cake is extra moist! Use about 1/3 less glaze however if keeping the cake in the pan.)

Mama's Hot Lemon Cake

Carefully transfer cake to serving plate and poke holes all over using a chopstick. (the more holes, the more glaze seeps into cake, so poke liberally!!)

Stir glaze well just before pouring onto cake. (Microwave glaze for a few seconds if needed to loosen.)
While cake is still hot, pour glaze all over the cake.

Mama's Hot Lemon Cake

Glaze will become more translucent as it sits on the cake.

Serve immediately and enjoy!

Mama's Hot Lemon Cake

Mama's Hot Lemon Cake