This lip-smacking Lemon Snacking Cake with Basil Glaze is just like grandma used to make but with a modern, herbal twist!
Are you an herb-infused desserts, kind of person? It might sound odd to some, but it’s one of my favorite ways to bring new life to an old recipe! This Lemon Snacking Cake with Basil Glaze has such a bright flavor and the basil and lemon go so flawlessly with one another.
If you’re still not sold on the idea of basil in your cake, let me reassure you. You won’t find any pieces of basil in your cake at all, in fact, someone might not even be able to detect it without a trained palate.
The flavor is so nuanced that you may not be able to put your finger on it.
You see, all you’re going to do is steep your basil in the lemon juice for your glaze like a tea. That lemon juice then infuses the glaze with its perfectly subtle basil notes.
What is a snacking cake you ask? I admit I’ve found myself looking for answers before, too. The Kitchn said it perfectly, “As their name suggests, snacking cakes are not for birthdays, or anniversaries, or going-away parties.
They are for whenever the craving for cake and frosting hits, for baking on a whim and consuming casually, like on a Wednesday afternoon.
You might also know them by another name: Counter cakes, as cookbook author Shauna Sever describes them, are made for keeping on the counter and stealing slivers from whenever the urge for cake hits.”
Let’s be real, with a cake like this, you get one round of “servings” out of it, and the rest is eaten with a crusty fork that’s left in the pan until the cake is gone. Am I wrong? There’s something about the tanginess of a lemon cake that’s so addicting.
Plus, since it’s so light, you won’t even recognize when you’ve passed by it for the 10th time and have taken a bite every single time.
Ingredients & Subs
- All-purpose flour — I haven’t tried this with any other flour, but I don’t see why a quality gluten-free all-purpose wouldn’t work!
- Buttermilk — No subs here, I’m afraid! BUT if you don’t want to waste the rest of the buttermilk from the carton, you can freeze your leftovers in an ice tray for future use!
- Sour cream — You could sub for full-fat Greek yogurt, but the cake won’t be quite as rich.
- Lemon extract — If you only have lemon oil, you could use that but definitely not an equal sub. I would go for about 1/4 tsp lemon oil, or you could just sub equal parts vanilla extract!
How to store
This cake will keep airtight at room temperature for up to 5 days, or in the freezer for up to 6 months.
P.S. If you want to double this recipe you can! Just bake it in a 9×13-inch pan instead of an 8×8. The baking time will likely need to be increased by about 5 minutes. Start there and test with a toothpick to see if it comes out clean. You could also try this in a muffin tin! I would check them at 18 minutes and go from there.
I decorated my cake with homemade dried lemons! You can absolutely buy them at the store in the dried fruit section, but I love making them myself! Bonus: They make your house smell A-mazing. You can then keep them in an airtight jar stored in a dark cabinet for about 6 months or until they start to discolor.
I love popping a slice or two in my evening herbal tea! You can also pulse your dried lemons in the food processor and mix with flakey sea salt to make lemon salt!
To dry in the oven, turn your oven on to the lowest setting, about 170ºF. Slice your lemons evenly and thinly, no more than 1/4-inch thick. Place the slices on a metal cooling rack over a baking sheet. This allows the air to circulate all around the lemons. Bake until completely dry, approximately 4 to 5 hours.
To make sure they’re dry, pat with a paper towel to make sure no moisture comes off. If it does, return them to the oven for a bit longer. I actually have a dehydrate setting on my air fryer so that’s what I used this time and it was amazing!
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- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tsp baking powder
- pinch salt
- 1 tbsp lemon zest
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 1/3 cup sour cream
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 3 tbsp canola oil
- 2 tsp lemon extract
- *For the Glaze*
- 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
- 1/3 cup lemon juice (may need more or less depending on your preferred consistency)
- 1 tbsp lemon zest
- 3 tbsp chopped fresh basil leaves
For the Cake
- Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line an 8-by-8-inch baking pan with aluminum foil or parchment paper and spray with cooking spray; set aside
- In a large bowl, whisk together flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, and a pinch of salt.
- Whisk in lemon zest; set aside.
- In a separate small bowl, whisk together the egg, buttermilk, sour cream, lemon juice, oil, and extract.
- Add the wet mixture to the dry, folding with a rubber spatula until just combined, being careful not to overmix. Some small lumps will remain.
- Spread batter into the prepared pan and bake for 28 to 30 minutes, or until center is set and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Place pan on a cooling rack and allow the cake to cool. While cake cools, make the glaze.
For the Glaze:
- To prepare the glaze combine the lemon juice and basil in a small bowl and microwave for 45 seconds. Let it sit and cool for 5 minutes before straining out the basil.
- In a medium bowl, add the confectioners’ sugar, the basil-infused lemon juice, and lemon zest. Whisk until smooth. If necessary, add additional lemon juice (or sugar) to reach desired consistency. Glaze should be thick but easily pourable.
- Evenly pour glaze over slightly cooled cake, smoothing it lightly.
- Allow cake to cool in pan uncovered for at least 1 hour. Decorate with dried lemon slices and fresh basil.