Florida Citrus Cake


Jacksonville chef Kenny Gilbert shares his cake recipe infused with three types of Florida citrus.

Florida Citrus Cake

Courtesy of Rizzoli USA

Makes six (6-inch) cakes or three (9-inch) cakes.

The first cake I ever had was a lemon sour cream pound cake. It is my mom’s specialty cake, and she would make it all the time. As a kid, I remember loving the lemon sour cream icing she poured over the moist, buttery cake. My mom instilled in me early on an appreciation for the combination of sweet and sour in desserts, which I still carry with me today.


Citrus Sugar

  • 1 cup granulated sugar

  • Peel from 1 orange (reserve the fruit)

  • Peel from 1 lemon (reserve the fruit) 

  • Peel from 1 lime (reserve the fruit) 


  • 3 cups self rising flour

  • 2 cups granulated sugar

  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt

  • 1 tsp. xanthan gum

  • 2 cups buttermilk

  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil

  • Juice of 4 lemons (1⁄2 cup)

  • Juice of 4 or 5 limes (1⁄2 cup)

  • Juice of 2 navel oranges (1⁄2 cup)

  • 2 large eggs

  • 1/4 cup sour cream

  • 1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract


  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter, softened

  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening

  • 8 ounces cream cheese

  • 1 pound powdered sugar, plus more dusting

  • 1 tablespoon lemon extract

  • Blackberries, for garnish


Make the Citrus Sugar

  1. Put the sugar and citrus peels in a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Process until the citrus peels are thoroughly incorporated into the sugar.
  2. Transfer to a freezer-safe container or freezer bag. Freeze until ready to use, or up to 6 months.

Make the Cake

  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Grease your pans of choice. 
  2. Combine the flour, sugar, salt, and xanthan gum in a large bowl. 
  3. Add the buttermilk, vegetable oil, citrus juices, eggs, sour cream, and vanilla bean paste to the flour mixture. Whisk thoroughly. 
  4. Divide the batter among the pans and place the pans on a sheet pan. (The sheet pan makes transitioning the batter-filled pans to the oven easier, avoiding spills.) 
  5. Bake the cakes for 7 minutes. Rotate the sheet pan and bake for another 7 minutes, or until the cakes are golden brown, springy to the touch, and a toothpick inserted into the center of each cake comes out clean. 
  6. Let the cakes cool to room temperature. Once cool, remove the cakes from the pans. Place a serving plate/platter over a pan. Turn the plate over while holding the pan. Gently free the cake pan from the cake and place on a wire rack. Repeat for the remaining cakes.

Make the Frosting

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, mix the butter, shortening, cream cheese, powdered sugar, and lemon extract on low speed until creamed. 
  2. Scrape the sides of the bowl, then increase the speed to medium-low. Cream for another 3 minutes. Scrape the bowl again, then cream on high speed for 1 minute, until the frosting is thoroughly mixed. 
  3. Remove and place into a piping bag or an airtight container and refrigerate. (The frosting can made and stored in the refrigerator for up to 7 days. If using from the refrigerator, let the frosting sit at room temperature for 10 to 15 minutes before piping it.)

The Build

  1. Pipe the frosting on the top of each cake and sprinkle citrus sugar on the frosting. Garnish each cake with blackberries and powdered sugar.
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