Copycat Lemon Passion Cake

This is a recipe from Macaroni Grill. I had to make this cake after I tried it. My sweet server told me the ingredients, my job was to figure out the measurements and the recipe go duplicate it. There are a couple of steps to this recipe but it is guaranteed to please.

Ingredients for cake:

3 cups flour less 6 Tablespoons

6 Tablespoons Cornstarch

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

4 eggs, extra large room temperature

1 egg white, room temperature

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 1/2 teaspoons (or 3 for bolder lemon taste) lemon extract

3/4 vegetable oil

1 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter or prepare a 13 x 9 pan and set aside.

Whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, beat eggs and egg white. Add the sugar and combine. Mix for 3 minutes. Add lemon extract and vegetable oil and combine. Alternate flour mixture with buttermilk ending with flour.

Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool completely and prepare simple syrup.

Simple Syrup:

1 1/2 cups water

1 1/2 cups sugar

Simmer in pan until sugar is dissolved. This can be made in advance. Poke holes in cake, I used a straw. Pour simple syrup evenly over cake.

Poke holes in cake and evenly pour simple syrup over cake. Allow simple syrup to soak in cake before brushing on the lemon curd.

Lemon Curd Ingredients

1 stick of butter

1 Tablespoon lemon zest

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice, about 4 lemons

1 cup of sugar

3 extra large egg yokes

Strain zest from lemon curd.

Brush a thin layer of lemon curd on cake before frosting with Lemon Whip Cream Frosting.

Place all ingredients in a saucepan. Over medium low heat, whisk ingredients together. Whisk frequently to prevent scorching. The lemon curd should have a smooth consistency, not thick. Strain lemon curd to remove zest. This lemon curd is smooth and so tasty. Cool lemon curd. Using a pastry brush, spread a thin layer of lemon curd over the cake that has soaked up the simple syrup. Save remaining lemon curd for frosting. Leftovers can be used on scones or biscuits.

Lemon Whip Cream Frosting:


1 pint of heavy whipping cream

1 8 ounce package cream cheese

1/2 – 1 cup powdered sugar

3 or more heaping Tablespoons lemon curd*

Plain whip cream for garnish, optional

Caramel drizzle on plate, optional

Chill mixing bowl and attachment(s) in refrigerator for a minimum of 30 minutes. Beat cream cheese until smooth. Your cream cheese needs to be cold, not room temperature. Add heavy cream and mix on low, increasing speed of the mixer. Add in 1/2 cup sugar and lemon curd. Taste it to see if you want it sweeter and more lemony*. The cake at the restaurant had a subtle lemon flavor, not overpowering. You make taste however you desire. Frost over cooled cake. Refrigerate cake.

4 thoughts on “Copycat Lemon Passion Cake

  1. Your Lemon Passion recipe really hit the spot for the replica of Mac Grills (especially the 2nd and 3rd days). There was just one thing I thought you should know when it came to making the custard. I could not get it to thicken up after 10 plus minutes. So I looked up a few other recipes and saw that it needed egg. So maybe you had forgot to include egg in your instructions…. unless you got yours to work without them? But in case you didn’t, I thought maybe you could edit and include that because I will DEFINITELY be using your recipe again. Thank you!!! 🙂

    • Thank you Ashlee. I am glad you mentioned eggs. I didn’t use them but I have in the past. I will update this recipe adding egg yolks because I would hate for someone to go through the trouble of making the recipe and not have it be perfect. So glad you enjoyed it. ❤️

  2. This recipe ROCKS!!! Ever since I had Macaroni Grill’s lemon passion cake years ago, I fell in love. The the tres leches-like combination of moist cake soaked in it’s delicious sweet citrus flavor with a light whipped lemony topping is heavenly, and served on a plate drizzled with some zigzags of caramel sauce – Amazing! When I found this copycat recipe for it, after looking at a few online, I thought that this one looked very promising. I’ve been eagerly waiting for an excuse to make a cake so that I could finally put this recipe to the test, and I finally got one. This recipe did not disappoint! Thank you SO MUCH for going to the trouble of figuring out how to make such a wonderful replica! I am so glad that I found this. I used a bamboo skewer to poke the holes in my cake, which worked perfectly. I definitely agree with Ashlee’s comment that the cake is even more like Macaroni Grill’s after the 2nd and 3rd days. I would highly recommend that anyone who makes this recipe, do it a couple days in advance so that it can really soak in the syrup and lemon curd while it sits in the fridge for a couple of days prior to serving. It just keeps getting better the longer it sits. Also, I’m sure if someone wanted to make a creamier version of this cake, they could probably substitute the simple syrup with a tres leches milk for the cake to soak in and I’m sure it would still be fabulous, but it is perfect as is! I made 2 cakes. 1 for my coworkers and 1 for my husband’s birthday, and I received lots of compliments on it as being the best lemon cake that they had ever had. The lemon curd recipe is absolutely delicious and could be used for so many other things! Anyway, thanks again! I had to come leave you a comment to let you know how much I loved this recipe and appreciate you sharing it, after tasting how great it turned out!

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