This Daffodil Cake is a fun, cheerful lemon spring cake with a light and airy texture, featuring a simple lemon glaze. It's also low-fat, Weight Watchers friendly, and is ideal for Easter Dessert, Mother's Day, birthdays, or any spring or summer celebration!
This cake is an old recipe that has no artificial color and the yellow hue comes naturally from the separation of the egg whites and egg yolks. If you are looking for spring cake ideas or Easter dessert and want a baking challenge, this lemon daffodil cake is perfect. However, there is the option to use a cake mix too! This cake is a lighter and WW friendly version (see below for WW points) of the old-fashioned daffodil cake recipe.
For this Old-fashioned Daffodil cake, you'll need:
- cake flour *see below for substitutions
- white granulated sugar
- large eggs whites
- large egg yolks
- cream of tartar (see below for substitutions)
- vanilla extract * I use clear vanilla extract (affiliate link)
- fresh lemon juice
- grated lemon (lemon peel)
- confectioners sugar/powdered sugar/icing sugar
*See recipe card for quantities.
How to make a Daffodil Cake
Prep: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Set an ungreased 10-inch tube pan nearby. * do NOT grease the pan (this type of cake does not need a greased pan).
Sift the cake flour and ¼ cup of the white granulated sugar into a small bowl.
With an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the egg whites into a separate bowl until foamy, about 30 seconds to 1 minute.
Add the cream of tartar, vanilla, and salt. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat just until soft peaks form (about 45 seconds to 1 minute)
Beat in the remaining 1 cup of granulated sugar, 2 tablespoons at a time, until stiff peaks form.
Sift one quarter of the flour mixture over the egg-white mixture and, with a large rubber spatula, gently fold in the flour mixture just until blended. Repeat with the remaining flour mixture, one quarter at a time, until combined.
Split the egg white batter into two bowls
With the mixer on high speed, beat the egg yolks in a small bowl until thick, about 5 minutes. *it should be the consistency of thick gravy and be a fluffy pale yellow
Fold 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice and 2 teaspoons of the lemon zest into the egg yolk mixture.
Add one bowl of egg white batter to the bottom of the pan.
Add egg yolk mixture (yellow batter) on top of the first layer of egg white batter.
Then add second bowl of egg white batter on top of egg yolk mixture.
Gently run a thin-bladed knife through the batters to marbelize, lifting the knife up each time and swirling it around once. You don't want to much marbleize in this cake.
Immediately place in the oven and bake until the cake springs back when touched lightly, 35-40 minutes. It will be lightly browned on the top of the cake.
Invert cake onto a the neck of a bottle or inverted metal funnel and cool completely, 2-3 hours.
If your angel food cake pan/tube pan has feet (as you see mine does) simply turn it over and allow it to cool for 2 hours on a cutting board or wire rack.
To loosen the cake, run a spatula around the sides of the pan and around the center tube. Unmold the cake onto a serving plate.
To make the glaze: whisk together the confectioners' sugar, 2-3 tablespoon of lemon juice, and the remaining 1 teaspoon of lemon zest in a small bowl until smooth.
Add enough of the remaining lemon juice to make a thick glaze, so you are able to spread and it runs down the side of the cake, but does not run too much.
Spread the warm glaze evenly over the top of the ake Let the cake stand until glaze is set (about 30 minutes) *pop it into the fridge or freezer to get it to set faster
Garnish with edible flowers or sprinkle top of cake with yellow and white heart sprinkles.
📖Variations & Substitutions
- Angel Food Cake mix - if you want to use an angel food cake mix, prepare the cake mix as directed on the box and divide it into two portions, then proceed from step #7 *you can use a sugar-free box cake mix as well, if you prefer
- Yellow color - you can add a drop of lemon yellow food colouring if you want the yellow to be brighter (add to yolks after they are beaten/when you add lemon) *I would recommend using Wilton icing colors
- Cake flour - if you don't have cake flour, you can use all purpose flour and make your own cake flour HERE!
- Cream of tartar - Here are some simple substitutions for Cream of Tartar. However, if you can get your hands on cream of tartar, I do recommend following this recipe exactly as written.
- Glaze- you can use the lemon glaze I provide in the recipe card or another glaze of your choice. Or alternatively, you could frost it (a Stabilized Whipped Cream frosting would work best).
- Decorations -use yellow and white sprinkles, cut out fondant flowers or use fresh flowers to garnish. *Do NOT use daffodils (they are not safe). Flowers That Are Safe: Pansies, Lavender, Violas, Violets, Roses, Marigold, Cornflower, Carnations, Chrysanthemums, Day Lily, Hibiscus, Peony, Chamomile, Freesia, Gerber Daisy, Lisianthus, Queen Anne’s Lace, Primrose, Sunflowers. Here’s a longer list of safe flowers (and what parts of each flower are edible).
- Daffodil Cupcakes - You can make these into cupcakes as well. You'll just need to use the same process as you use for the cake for each cupcake and bake for ½ the time (15-18 minutes) or until cake tester comes out clean and they are lightly browned on top. * It will take you more time!
👪 Serving Size
This lemon daffodil cake recipe makes 16 servings. However, you can half, double or triple the recipe by clicking on the blue serving number and selecting the number of servings you'd like to make more than 1 cake. The ingredient quantities will automatically adjust. You'll need additional angel food cake pans.
The original recipe came from WW magazine many years ago and this was about 5 points on the plan at that time. However, on the new plan, this recipe is 10 WW points. But considering it's a cake, that's really not a lot. If you don't mind sugar substitutes, you could further reduce the points by using a sugar substitute/artificial sweetener.
🥗 Spring Meals to serve with this cake
This cake is a great accompaniment to any spring or summer meal, including my Picnic Ham with Orange Glaze Recipe (shown), Chipotle Mashed Potatoes and Healthy Roasted Carrots with Brown Sugar. And be sure to check out my Easter brunch menu ideas!
For this lemon daffodil cake, you will need an electric hand mixer, sifter and angel food cake pan (or tube pan) or even a bundt pan for this recipe. I prefer the angel food cake pan with feet (affiliate links) so you don't have to worry about having to find a bottle or something to invert pan onto. You can simply flip it over to cool.
Store this cake in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
You can make this cake in advance and freeze it, but I would recommend making the glaze and glazing the cake just before you serve it (30 minutes in advance, as this is how long it takes for the glaze to set.)
This recipe is a beautiful combination of white angel food cake and golden sponge cake batters. It's important to properly separate a dozen eggs. For best results, separate the eggs one at a time, into 2 small bowls. then transfer each white and yolk into two larger bowls (so if at some point some of the shell or yolk should ball into a white, it will be easier to remove). This is important because the fat from the yolk will prevent the beaten whites from foaming stiff peaks.
What to do with leftover egg yolks
You are going to have 6 leftover egg yolks. I would recommend you use them up in this light, healthy and WW friendly Healthy Hollandaise Sauce. You can make a double batch and use it for quick and healthy eggs benedict, salmon, asparagus or broccoli!
- Do not eat raw eggs
- Wash hands after touching raw eggs
- Don't leave food sitting out at room temperature for extended periods
- Never leave cooking food unattended
- Use oils with high smoking point to avoid harmful compounds
- Always have good ventilation when using a gas stove
See more guidelines at USDA.gov.
❔ Frequently Asked Questions
Daffodil cake is an old-fashioned cake (vintage cake) that's a beautiful combination of white angel food cake and a golden sponge cake batters swirled together and baked in a tube pan/angel food cake pan.
📋Daffodil Cake Recipe
- 1 cup cake flour
- 1 ½ cup sugar
- 12 egg whites
- 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 6 egg yolks
- 4 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 3 teaspoon grated lemon
- 1 ½ cup powdered sugar/confectioners sugar, sifted
NOTE: The instruction images will NOT print by default. If you want them to print, you'll need to check the box beside "images" on the print page
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Set a tube pan nearby. * do NOT grease the pan (this type of cake does not need a greased pan)Sift the cake flour and ¼ cup of the white granulated sugar into a small bowl.
- With an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the egg whites into a large bowl until foamy, about 30 seconds to 1 minute.
- Add the cream of tartar, vanilla and salt. Increase the speed to medium- high and beat just until soft peaks form (about 45 seconds to 1 minute).
- Beat in the remaining 1 cup of granulated sugar, 2 tablespoons at a time
- Beat until stiff peaks form.
- Sift one quarter of the flour mixture over the egg-white mixture and, with a large rubber spatula, gently fold in the flour mixture just until blended. Repeat with the remaining flour mixture, one quarter at a time until just until fully blended (but don't overmix)
- Split the egg white batter into two bowls.
- With the mixer on high speed, beat the egg yolks in a small bowl until thick, about 5 minutes. *Should be the consistency of very thick gravy and be a fluffy pale yellow
- Fold in 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice and 2 teaspoons of the lemon zest.
- Add one bowl of egg white batter to the bottom of the pan.
- Add egg yolk mixture on top of the first layer of egg white batter.
- Then add the second bowl of egg white batter over top of the egg yolk batter.
- Gently run a thin-bladed knife through the batters to marbelize, lifting the knife up a each time and swirling it around once. You don't want to much marblizing in this cake.
- Immediately place in the oven and bake until the cake springs back when touched lightly, 35-40 minutes. It will be lightly browned on top.
- Invert onto a bottleneck or inverted meatl funnel and cool completely, 2-3 hours. If you angel food cake pan/tube pan has feet (as you see mine does) simply turn it over and allow it to cool for 2 hours.
- To loosen the cake, run a spatula around the sides of the pan and around the centre tube. Unmold the cake onto a serving plate.
- To make the glaze: whisk together the confectioners sugar and, 2-3 tablespoon of lemon juice and the remainaing 1 teaspoon of lemon zest in a small bowl until smooth.
- Add enough of the remaining lemon juice to make a thick glaze. so you are able to spread and it run down the side of the cake, but does not run to much.
- Spread the glaze evnely over the top of the ake Let the cake stand until glaze is set (boute 30 mintues) *pop it into the fridge or freezer to get it to set faster
- Garnish with sprinkles, or edible flowers.
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