Doris Day Lemon Cake

Moist and packed with lemon flavor, this bright lemon cake is named after the Old Hollywood star who radiated sunshine, Doris Day.

In remembrance of Doris Day, it seems only fitting to share this lemon cake recipe today.

From the time I saw my first Doris Day film at nine years old, Doris has, for me, represented happiness and all that is good in the world.  Through her films, music, and smile, Doris Day has that rare ability to brighten anyone’s day.

If there was a dessert that could channel the aura of Doris Day, it would have to be something equally bright and sunny.

In my book, that means lemon cake.

doris day lemon cake

Doris Day Lemon Cake

This lemon cake is full of lemon flavor.  There are few things more disappointing—when it comes to baked goods, at least—than expecting a lemon dessert, only to find on that first bite that the lemon flavor is almost non-existent.

If you’re like me and like your lemon desserts lemony, then this is the cake for you. 

The secret is the combination of lemon juice, lemon zest, and lemon extract.  These three ingredients work together to give this cake the perfect lemon punch.

doris day

Make Doris Day Lemon Cake!

If Doris’ passing hit you as hard today as it did me, making this cake will help lift your spirits.

Make my Doris Day Lemon Cake, and enjoy a slice as you watch a Doris Day film.  I recommend The Glass Bottom Boat [aff. link]. 

lemon cake

A Few Things!

You’ll need lemon extract for the cake and icing in this recipe.  If you don’t have any on hand, here’s my favorite lemon extract on Amazon [aff. link].

You’ll also need an offset spatula for spreading the icing on the cake.  The icing is thick, but it goes on the cake while the cake is still warm.  Then the icing sets on top as the cake cools.  An offset spatula is essential to spreading the icing evenly.  Here’s my favorite on Amazon [aff. link].

doris day lemon cake
5 from 1 vote

Doris Day Lemon Cake

Moist and packed with lemon flavor, this bright lemon cake is named after the Old Hollywood star who radiated sunshine, Doris Day.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time45 mins
Servings: 12
Print Recipe


For the wet ingredients:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • cup canola oil
  • 2 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 tsp lemon extract
  • ¼ cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup coconut milk, full fat, from a can

For the dry ingredients:

  • 2 cups flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp baking soda

For the icing:

  • ¼ cup butter, just barely melted
  • 3 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp lemon extract
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 ¾ cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp milk, I use almond milk, but any milk will do


Mix the wet ingredients

  • To a large mixing bowl, add the oil, sugar, coconut milk, vanilla extract, lemon extract, lemon juice, lemon zest, and eggs. Whisk together until everything is completely incorporated.

Add the dry ingredients

  • Now add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk until the dry ingredients are completely incorporated, taking care not to over mix.

Bake the cake

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Grease a 9x13 inch glass baking dish with cooking spray.
  • Pour the cake batter evenly into the pan, then shake the pan gently a few times to let air bubbles in the batter rise to the top.
  • Bake the cake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, until the top is firmly set and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Make the icing

  • While the cake cools, make the icing.
  • In a small mixing bowl, stir together the (just melted) butter, lemon juice, lemon zest, and lemon extract.
  • Now add ¾ cup of the powdered sugar. Mix the powdered sugar in until smooth, then add the remaining 1 cup of powdered sugar. The icing will be very thick and a little lumpy.
  • Now add the 2 tsp of almond milk, and stir until completely incorporated. The icing will be thick and smooth.

Ice the cake

  • Let the cake cool for 15 minutes before icing.
  • After the cake has cooled for 15 minutes, pour the icing over the cake.
  • Use an offset spatula to help spread the icing completely over the cake. The icing will cover the top of the cake, and make its way down the edges as well.
  • Let the iced cake cook for at least 45 minutes before slicing. This allows the cake to absorb the icing, and gives the icing time to set on top.

Serve and think of Doris!

  • Serve this cake alone, with a glass of almond milk, or with vanilla ice cream, and think of Doris.


This is a very lemony lemon cake.  If you're not a fan of strong lemon flavor, this may not be the cake for you.  Alternately, you could try cutting back on the lemon extract by a tsp or two.
If you don't have lemon extract on hand, here's my favorite on Amazon [aff. link].
Use an offset spatula to make icing the cake easy.  Here's my favorite on Amazon [aff. link].
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