My Oma’s German Lemon Cake Recipe

I was in Costco today… picked up my usual car load of supplies….. fruit, veggies, 25 pound bag of flour, 25 pound bag of sugar, 10 pound bag of chocolate chips….. you know… the standards. Today they had Meyer Lemons. Real Meyer Lemons. Sort of orangy-looking, delicious Meyer lemons. I had to buy them. I love love love working with citrus (grew up in a Wholesale Nursery specializing in Citrus… citric acid flows through my veins!). What to make? That’s easy, my Oma’s German Lemon Cake Recipe.

I have this fantastic recipe for a German Lemon Cake that I got from my mom who got it from her mom. It’s delicious. I love it in the middle of the afternoon with a cup of tea, but I have a friend who swears cake is perfect for breakfast. And naturally, Zitronenkuchen is an excellent addition to any Kaffeeklatsch table!


NOTE- I get it… some of you may not have Meyer Lemons, that’s ok! Frankly, any lemon will work for this cake… I promise!

lemon cake

Oma’s German Lemon Cake Recipe

german Lemon Cake

Oma’s German Lemon Cake Recipe

Bake the German Lemon Cake the day before you want to eat it.... it tastes better after soaking for a day.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 13 hours
Course German Foods and Recipes, German Recipes
Servings 1 8 inch round Cake



  • 2 sticks BUTTER 1 Cup or 230 gr.
  • 1 c. sugar 200 gr.
  • 1 Tbl. Baking Powder
  • 1 3/4 c. unbleached flour 225 gr.
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/4 cup Lemon Juice and Zest of One Lemon 55 gr

Soaking Liquid:

  • 3/4 c. sugar 170gr
  • grated zest and juice of 4 lemons


  • 2 c. powdered sugar 220 gr
  • few tablespoons lemon juice
  • grated lemon peel


  • Either butter or spray 9 inch round baking pan with non-stick spray
  • NOTE- To guarantee that you get the cake out perfect every time...line the bottom of the pan with parchment before buttering or spraying pan (or use a Spring-form Pan)

Cake Batter:

  • Cream butter and sugar for 5 minutes.
  • Add eggs one at a time until incorporated after each one.
  • Scrape sides of bowl.
  • Combine flour and baking powder, add slowly to butter mixture.
  • Add lemon juice and zest, continue mixing until just combined
  • Pour batter into prepared pan.. spread out evenly... pop into oven
  • Bake at 350 degrees- 50 to 60 min, until golden brown on top
  • Meanwhile.... make the soaking liquid

Soaking Liquid:

  • Mix 3/4 c. sugar with juice and grated zest of lemons in a saucepan
  • Heat over low to medium heat until sugar melts... then set aside
  • When cake is done, take it out of the oven, and prick it all over with a fork. Slowly pour the soaking liquid evenly all over cake.
  • Let cake sit overnight on counter, covered.
  • The next day, turn cake out of pan onto a serving plate.


  • Mix 2 cups of powdered sugar with lemon juice until it looks like elmer's glue... or maybe a little thicker
  • Pour over cake
  • To make the cake look and taste more lemony, grate on some more lemon peel over the glaze before it sets.
  • Slice and devour


The odd amount of time includes letting the cake sit overnight to absorb the lemon flavor.

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My Oma

Margarete Pangratz

I never had the chance to meet my Oma Pangratz, she died before my mom and dad married, and long before I was born. My mom is the little girl on the right side of the picture… it must have been taken around 1943 in Germany. My grandparents lived in Silesia, in a small town called Schreckendorf. At the end of World War 2 they were refugeed, and luckily, sent to the western part of Germany. They eventually landed in Nord Rhein Westfalia. The German borders were redrawn after the war, and the home that they left behind was taken over by a Polish family. My mother actually had a chance to go back and see the house a few years ago. She was amazed at how much she remembered, and how much was still the same.

My grandparents owned a small grocery store in Buldern after this. Times were hard, and my Oma worked hard. Her mother lived with them to help raise my mother and her sister. Even though her mother did most of the cooking, my Oma loved to bake. This is a recipe she loved, and it was passed to me from my mother.

Oma died in 1965 of ovarian cancer. I’m sorry I never got a chance to meet her, but maybe this cake is a way for her memory to live on.



Step By Step Photos for Making German Lemon Cake


Cream Butter and Sugar for 5 Minutes

lemon cake

Spread Batter into a prepared pan


lemon cake

Use FRESH Lemon Zest

lemon cake

Bake until browned on top, then prick holes into cake with a fork while it’s still warm

Lemon cake

For the soaking liquid, combine sugar, lemon juice and zest over low heat until the sugar is melted.

lemon cake


Pour soaking liquid all over the poked  cake

Lemon Cake

After leaving the cake to soak for a few hours or a day… flip it out of the pan
Pour the glaze over the cake.

Lemon Cake


Servelemon cake



Oma’s German Lemon Cake Freezes Well

You can freeze this cake for up to two months.

Go ahead and soak it before freezing… but wait until thawing it out before glazing it with icing or the icing gets a bit soggy. (It doesn’t taste bad, it just doesn’t look as nice).

When the cake has cooled, wrap it up in plastic wrap, then either put it in a ZipLock Freezer bag, or wrap again in foil. LABEL it before you put it in the Freezer (what it is, and the date)

(yes, you will forget what it is… Label your Cake!)



german lemon cake recipe

11 thoughts on “My Oma’s German Lemon Cake Recipe

  1. I love this story. Thank you for sharing it. My Omas (or grossmutters) didn’t leave any recipes. Fortunately, my mom did and I treasure them. I have relatives in Nord Rhein Westfalia and love to visit with them when I can. They are from my father’s side. My mom’s side are in Hamburg and I love that city too.

    Looking forward to more from you.

  2. Bittersweet. , aber Oma’s Lemon Kuchen was a wonderful legacy to her life and family.

  3. I lived in Salzburg for a while, then Grandma made this type of pound cake, but used crushed, pureed strawberries. Or raspberries..I am looking.for a recipe for a chocolate cake made with housefraumiterin made it. Sounds weird…but was sweet and start at same time…you know how it is made??

    1. I will put out a question on my Facebook site… there are so many good cooks, I’m sure someone will know it.

    2. There a several sites that have the German Sauerkraut cake. Just Google German sauerkraut cake and you see a lot of different versIons.

  4. I made this tonight & found the 8 inch pan too small. The batter over ran the pan on the oven. It is cooling. Hoping it turns out to well tomorrow.

  5. I don’t know what a stick of butter is. How many grams please? Or would you happen to have the original recipe in weights instead of cups? That would be easier to follow.

    1. Ahhh… my apologies… I’m so used to converting for an American Kitchen

      one stick = 1/2 cup or 113 grams

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