This beautiful Lemon Swirl Bundt Cake is perfect for those times when you want to bake a cake with a bit of a surprise to it. The vanilla bundt cake has a gorgeous swirl of lemon running through it – a swirl that is bright yellow in color, but all natural in both coloring and flavoring. As a bonus, this cake is quite easy to make, so it will look like you put more time and effort into baking it than you really did.
This cake uses one vanilla batter as a base. The pound cake-like mixture is generously flavored with vanilla extract and buttermilk, which gives it a buttery flavor and a tender crumb. The vanilla cake is very white in color because, like many white cakes, it only uses egg whites. The egg yolks are reserved and added to a small portion of the batter along with plenty of lemon zest, creating a batter with a sunshine yellow hue that is packed with citrus flavor! You will be surprised at how much color just a few yolks can add to your cake!
You should add the cake batters to your pan in layers to get a white-yellow-white effect in every slice of the bundt. I didn’t run a knife through my batters to really swirl them together because I prefer to see a bolder yellow stripe, but feel free to do so if you want a more intricate pattern.
This cake is beautifully sweet and balanced on its own and, since I wanted to show off the design of the bundt pan, I opted to leave it unfrosted. If you do want to finish it off with a little bit of glaze, I recommend using a vanilla glaze made with vanilla extract, milk and enough confectioners’ sugar to thicken it to a pourable consistency. This way the vanilla layers of the cake will be highlighted and the bright lemon swirl will continue to stand out. Frosted or not, the cake will keep well in an airtight container for several days after baking.
Lemon Swirl Bundt Cake
3 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups + 2 tbsp sugar
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs, separated
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1 1/2 tbsp lemon zest (from 1 large lemon)
Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and flour a 9 or 10-inch bundt pan.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.
In a large bowl, cream together butter and 1 1/2 cups sugar until light. Beat in the egg whites, followed by the vanilla extract. Stir in one third of the flour mixture, followed by half of the buttermilk. Stir in an additional third of the flour mixture, followed by the remaining buttermilk. Stir in the rest of the flour and mix until no streaks of dry ingredients remaining.
In a small bowl, whisk together egg yolks, remaining 2 tbsp sugar and lemon zest until smooth. Stir in approximately 1/3 of the vanilla batter and mix until uniform.
Transfer 1/2 of the remaining vanilla batter into prepared bundt pan and spread into an even layer. Spoon lemon layer on top and spread evenly. Spoon remaining vanilla batter over the top of the lemon layer and spread as evenly as possible.
Bake for 50-55 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Cool on a wire rack for at least 20 minutes before inverting the cake onto a wire rack to release the cake. Allow cake to cool completely before slicing.