Lemon basil cake

Where has this year gone? I can’t believe the 4th of July is next week, and that means 2012 is almost half over. I also realized that I hadn’t made anything for What’s Baking, so I had to get on it, pronto.

This month’s host is Jill of JBean Cuisine, who asked us to bake with fresh herbs. I was hoping to receive some herbs in our biweekly CSA box, but I was left disappointed (I did get some gorgeous produce, fruit, eggs and cheese though).

My husband and I went to a local farmer’s market and I went through each vendor’s booth to see what fresh herbs they had available. I saw cilantro, mint, parsley and basil. I was hoping to pick up some rosemary so I could bake a rosemary focaccia, but I guess that will have to wait until next time. I decided on a bunch of basil since I could use part of it to throw into pasta.

Although I know that strawberry and basil is a popular flavor combination, we actually forgot to buy strawberries that week!  Oops.  I went online to look for other flavors that would work well in a dessert and came across this lemon basil cake on Suburban Spoon.

I’m glad I added the extra lemon juice into the cake because I love lemon cakes, and I thought that 1/2 cup of fresh basil would be too powerful. I was right – the lemon juice balances out the basil so that the cake doesn’t taste too herb-y. This wasn’t my favorite cake, but it was still good and I’m glad I tried it.

Lemon basil cake

Who knew that lemon and basil would pair nicely together? Well, they do, especially in this cake!
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time45 minutes
Total Time1 hour 5 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Cake
Servings: 12
Author: Eva Bakes



  • 2 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter softened
  • 1 and 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons lemon extract found at food specialty stores - I used 2 Tablespoons of lemon zest and added the juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons buttermilk
  • 1 and 1/2 cups mixed berries such as raspberries and blackberries


  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 cup of powdered sugar


  • Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly oil a 9-inch springform pan.
  • In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  • In an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar in an electric mixer on medium speed, until creamy. Add the eggs, basil, lemon zest, and vanilla extract. Beat until blended.
  • Add the flour mixture, a third at a time, alternating with the buttermilk and beating on low speed until smooth.
  • Pour into the prepared pan. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes. Remove the sides of the pan and cool completely.
  • For the glaze, mix the powdered sugar with the lemon juice and zest. Spread or drizzle over the cooled cake.
  • Place the cake on a serving plate and top with the berries.


Source: Slightly adapted from Suburban Spoon


  1. Anonymous
    June 28, 2012 / 11:53 pm

    This cake looks delicious Eva. I have never baked a dessert with a fresh herb before. Well, until today for What's Baking. 😀 I can't wait to try some new sweet recipes with herbs!

  2. Gabriela
    June 29, 2012 / 1:07 pm

    Basil, lemon and sugar, very interesting combination!

    • Eva
      June 29, 2012 / 2:10 pm

      I was a bit skeptical at first too, but the flavor combination actually works! This tastes more like a lemon cake with just a tiny hint of basil.

  3. Cathleen
    June 29, 2012 / 7:27 pm

    What a delicious sounding combination! I'm intrigued!

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