Olive Garden Lemon Cream Cake – Nance and Robyn make the same recipe

Every week we’ll post a recipe that we both made. This week’s recipe was Olive Garden Lemon Cream Cake, found over at Tastebook. Printable recipe can be found at the bottom of this post.

Robyn’s Take:

I have this vague recollection in the very back of my mind that at some point there was discussion in the comments about the Olive Garden lemon cake and how Sam’s Club used to carry it and Nance said we should make it at some point. But a cursory search of the comments didn’t give me a damn thing, so I can’t point y’all to the discussion. Not that it was fascinating and in-depth, but that’s how it came to be, I’m guessing, that Nance’s choice for this week was the Olive Garden Lemon Cream Cake.

It starts, as all good recipes do, AMANDA, with a boxed cake mix. First things first, you make the cake.

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Betty Crocker white cake mix, vegetable oil, water, egg whites. Just so y’all know, the recipe states that you need an 18.25 ounce box of cake mix, but a careful search of the damn grocery store shelves shows that the company who produces the Betty Crocker mixes did what all companies are doing this day: they reduced the amount in the box and kept the price the same. So don’t go crazy looking for an 18.25-ounce box of cake mix. You’re only going to find a 16.something-ounce box.

Whenever a recipe calls for vegetable oil, I always think about using coconut oil instead. I haven’t done it yet, but ONE OF THESE DAYS I’m going to get all wild and crazy with it.

Throw everything in the mixer and mix the shit out of it.

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Put it in your Springform or 10-inch cake pan. I had neither of those, so I bought a Springform pan at the grocery store. Fred was all appalled and said “Aren’t they EXPENSIVE?!” Well, no. It was $8, and it seems like the sort of thing I should have on hand even though owning one means that I’ll never ever need one for the rest of my life.

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Someone might have tasted the cake batter because what is the POINT of making a cake if you can’t eat some batter?

When the cake was cool, I made the lemon cream filling.

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Powdered sugar, lemon juice, softened cream cheese. Mix it.

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And then set that bowl aside and make yourself some whipped cream.

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This is the container of whipping cream that Fred’s sister left on Thanksgiving. Fred always mocks her because she uses the organic, pasture-raised stuff. We both firmly believe in cramming as many chemicals and preservatives in our faces as possible. How else are you gonna live forever? (Several years ago, at Christmas, her son scoffed at the idea of Cool Whip and told us that “REAL whipped cream comes in a can!” Reddi-Whip, yum.)

Anyway, Fred’s sister and her husband have one of those little handy gadgets that makes whipped cream in a dispenser thingy (she called it a Profi), but since we don’t have one of those, I used the mixer.

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Whip it. Into shape. Shape it up. Get straight. Go forward. Move ahead. Try to detect it. It’s not too late. To whip it. Whip it GOOD.

I pre-chilled my mixer bowl and beaters because that’s how my Mama always did it, and that stuff was whipped in no time flat.

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Mix together the cream cheese stuff and the whipped cream until combined. Use your plastic spatula or a spoon. Hell, use your feet for all I care.

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“Is time for cake?”

I made Fred cut the cake in half because I knew I’d fuck it up.

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I’m not saying he didn’t fuck it up, but I would have made a bigger mess of it, guaranteed.

Set aside 1/2 cup of the lemon cream filling, and then slap the rest of it on the bottom half of the cake.

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Then put the top back on the cake and frost the top and sides with your half cup of lemon cream filling. I didn’t take a picture of that part, but I’m sure you can imagine.

Next, make your vanilla crumb topping. Ingredients:

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Flour, powdered sugar, butter, vanilla.

I failed to take pictures of the making of the vanilla crumb topping, but instead of rubbing the butter in with my fingers, I used a pastry blender. Then I was like “This doesn’t look right…” and I went ahead and used my hands. Frankly, if I’d just tossed a kitten in the bowl and let her tromp around, I’m not sure she could have done any worse than I did.

When the vanilla crumb topping is done, you sprinkle it over the top and then press it on the sides. Are you ready for the breathtaking picture of the final product?

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I know, right? Cake decorating is my skill. I’m a force to be reckoned with. It looks like I stood across the room and just threw the bowl at the cake. Maybe I should have done it that way – it certainly couldn’t have looked any WORSE.

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Reminder: Fred cut the cake in half. You can blame him for the fact that the top half is twice as thick as the bottom half. You can blame me for the rest of it.

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“I find your presentation lacking.”

The verdict? I’ll be damned, but that cake was REALLY good. It tasted pretty much like the Olive Garden version (as I recall, anyway, it’s been a while since I last had it) and Fred liked it as much as I did.

What I’ll do differently next time: bake the cake in two smaller pans so there’s no need to cut the cake in half. Sprinkle the topping on the top, but don’t worry about the sides. I don’t know that I’d ever make this cake for an event where other people would have to decide whether to eat it (“It looks like it’ll give us Ptomaine poisoning, Franklin. Let’s pretend we’ve given up sugar but act like we’re sad to have missed out.”), but I’ll definitely be making it again in the future. Two thumbs up!

(God, I hope Nance got a decent picture of the cake so this ridiculous mess doesn’t go on the front page.)


Nance’s Take:


I was so excited about making this recipe that I had Rick pick up a Springform pan when he was at the store. I don’t own one and I could actually justify it since this is the second thing I made this year that called for one.

See how I did that there? It’s only a matter of time and a few good recipes until I get a maid!


This kind of shit makes me crazy.


But this kind of shit makes me so freaking happy! I know some people (husband, I am looking at you) think you shouldn’t eat batters or cookie dough before baking, but this is actually my favorite part of baking. In fact, give me a spoon and you don’t even have to bother turning on the oven. I am good to go, baby!


It took forever for the damn cake to bake. I started checking it at 45 minutes.  By the time it was all over I was a full hour into it before it wouldn’t jiggle and I managed to get a clean toothpick from it. Yes, I know that they don’t recommend making normal cakes in a springform pan. But the recipe said to use it so I went with it. I’m not making accusations, but one has to wonder if the person who originally created this recipe just wrote that in assuming that it would work without actually trying it.


Guess what? Didn’t work. But it’s also a good example of why we’re here. We try the recipes out and tell you the truth so you know what’s going on and can make an informed decision about whether or not to bother. We’re like the Consumer Reports of recipes!  Except not.  Because what the hell do we know?


We interrupt this entry with a picture of a cat drinking from a glass of Pepsi. And this is where I ask the most important question of all time. Do you dump it out and get a new glass or do you keep on drinking?


Since the springform pan was such a huge fail, I picked up a couple of 10″ pans when I was trolling Dollar General. The pans actually worked pretty well considering where they came from.


It was late when I baked the cake so I wrapped those bitches up in plastic wrap and went to bed.


The next day I got busy with finishing up the cake. I doubled the recipe for the filling because I am a hog that loves cheesecake-type stuff. I have to admit that I was surprised at the amount of powdered sugar it required, but I figured they must know what they’re doing.


I opened these containers like a Boss.


This is what my whipped cream looked like when I decided it was ready.


Making the crumb mixture. I did not use my hands as the recipe suggested because I hate the thought of flour or anything getting under my fingernails.


I guess I should have just used my hands to mix it up. My son, Alex, was over and he told me how to apply the crumb coating AFTER I already made this horrifying mess with my hands. I was literally slapping the cake with this shit. He took culinary classes at the local vo-tech and apparently managed to retained a little bit of information. Unfortunately, he chose to share it when the cake was 95% covered with my mess. Thanks for nothing, Alex.


This is what it looked like when it came out of its 3 hour refrigeration time. Thank God I wasn’t taking this cake somewhere!


Shut the hell up, Julie. Nobody cares what you think!


Photo by Alex. I’m only writing this because I don’t want y’all to think I took this shitty picture. Heh.

I suck at food presentation (fact) so I was clinging to the hope that the cake would be delicious even if it did look bad. WRONG. This cake sucked 1,000 different ways and I am so pissed off that I even bothered!

1. Absolutely NOTHING like the Olive Garden Original. Not even close.

2. Way too sweet. Ridiculously sweet. Etch your goddamn teeth sweet!

3. Waste of good ingredients (cream cheese, whipping cream) and time.

BOO! I threw the recipe away immediately after I tasted it. But I will play around some in the kitchen to see what I can come up with that may actually be closer to the original. Meanwhile, check your local Olive Garden Restaurant for it. Skip the meal and just go in for a piece of the cake with a cup of coffee. You won’t be disappointed.

Disclaimer:  We are in no way affiliated with or sponsored by Olive Garden Restaurants…but if they happen to throw a few cakes our way we’re not going to be all bitchy about it. Because nobody in their right mind turns down cake! Seriously! Free cake? I’ll take one for the team!

Olive Garden Lemon Cream Cake - Nance and Robyn make the same recipe
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Original Source/Author:
: dessert
Serves: 12
  • Cake
  • 1 box Betty Crocker white cake mix
  • 1¼ cups water
  • ⅓ cup vegetable oil
  • 3 egg whites
  • Lemon Cream Filling
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 4 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • Vanilla Crumb Topping
  • ½ cup all purpose flour
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • ¼ cup cold butter
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Garnish
  • powdered sugar
  1. Make white cake following the directions on the box. Pour batter into a greased 10-inch cake pan or spring form pan, and bake at 350 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes. Allow cake to cool completely when it comes out of the oven.
  2. Make lemon cream filling by mixing cream cheese and powdered sugar in a medium bowl with an electric mixer until smooth. Mix in lemon juice.
  3. Whip cream in a large bowl with an electric mixer on high speed until it forms stiff peaks. Combine cream cheese mixture with whipped cream. Stir by hand until blended.
  4. Make crumb topping by combining flour and powdered sugar in a medium bowl. Add butter and dribble in the vanilla extract. Use your hands to mix cold butter into flour and sugar. Break butter into smaller and smaller pieces as you incorporate it into the dry ingredients. Be sure not to press the mixture together. You want to end up with a very crumbly consistency with pieces no bigger than a pea. (If you have trouble making small crumbs, pop the bowl into your fridge for a few minutes.) Chill this crumb topping until you are ready to use it.
  5. When the cake is cool, slice it in half through the middle and remove the top. Spread all but ½ cup of the lemon cream mixture onto the bottom half of the cake, then carefully replace the top half of the cake.
  6. Spread the remaining ½ cup of cream filling over the top and sides of the cake. Sprinkle the crumb topping on top of the cake and press it onto the sides all the way around the cake.
  7. Chill the cake for at least 3 hours before you serve it. When you are ready to dig in, slice cake into 12 slices. Serve each slice topped with powdered sugar tapped through a strainer (or skip the powdered sugar topping. Who are you trying to impress?)



Olive Garden Lemon Cream Cake – Nance and Robyn make the same recipe — 52 Comments

  1. Interesting that you both got such different results from your springform pans and that you had such different reactions to the recipe. Me, I would make a big bowl of the filling and happily just eat that.

    • I think it’s interesting that we both went out and bought springform pans for the recipe. You have to remember that we don’t even talk about the recipe until after they’re both posted. So I’m kinda fascinated (and I suppose sometimes horrified) with how much alike we are. Knuckleheads unite! 🙂

  2. Obviously it’s been too long since I had the cake from Olive Garden, I would have sworn it tasted very similar. Maybe I’ll try to convince Fred to go there for lunch this weekend so I can get a piece of the real stuff and compare!

    • OMG, that’s what I want to do! Dammit, Olive Gardens around the country are going to get swamped thanks to us (delusions of grandeur much?)

      Edited because I’m a dumbass.

      • “We’ve sold AT LEAST six pieces of cake in the last week, Phil! What the HELL is going on?! Are those crazy dinosaur women at it again?!”

  3. the first time I whipped cream- I made butter.
    it was for a Chocolate Pate recipe that was super expensive to make and to have to run out (no car) and get more whipping cream made me pissy. I never made the pate again . too bad, cause it was a party showstopper.

      • I, too, laughed my ASS off at the whipped cream/butter comment, because that is EX-ACTLY what happened to me. Don’t get me wrong – I made lemonade out of those effing lemons. I added a little salt, then spread that shit on some French bread. DAMN, it was good!

  4. You two CRACK ME UP every time. I’ll have to try this one – it sounds like heaven.
    (I am at work and nearly fell out of my chair laughing at “Shut the hell up, Julie. Nobody cares what you think!” And also – I’d keep drinking after I shared my soda with my cat – why waste a glass?)

  5. See, now you two made me have a cake craving. Worst of all, I have some birthday cake left and now I’ll have to get a piece!

    If it’s any consolation, I always have trouble getting cakes to turn out well…there’s either a crack in it somewhere or it sticks to the pan, no matter how I prep the pan. Sigh.

  6. I always get so confused with the pictures (okay, I get confused with everything else too but I digress). I swear Robyn adds booze to every recipe without telling us, but calls it “vanilla”. And then I thought for sure that Nance was going to put strawberries in the cake… which got me extra excited because my wedding cake was lemon with strawberries between the layers.

    Disclaimer: I have never had this cake at Olive Garden. In fact, I worked there in college and don’t remember a thing about it (granted it was a million or so years ago, so perhaps those brain cells have been re-purposed or died off or something). I think I’d skip the crumb topping, though. Make the cake with the lemon frosting and put strawberries in it, dammit. Ta-daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah! I’m certain Amanda would give me an F for creativity, but ask me how much I care (at least I don’t put peas in my macaroni and cheese).

    Oh, and about the cats… There are about a dozen around here, give or take 5 or 10, at any given moment. If they stick their tongue in my glass, I’m going to keep drinking. It’s kind of like the husband or kids… you’re going to get their germs anyway so what’s the difference? And **I** care what Julie thinks… so there!

    • Think of cat germs as innoculating you against diseases. Salk got a Nobel Prize for that idea with Polio, and cretins will insult you for doing it for diseases that they haven’t even identified yet?

      Don’t they believe in PROGRESS?!

    • I think you’ve made an entirely different cake there, Kelly. 🙂

      I’m theoretically okay with cats drinking out of my glass, but I never leave a glass sitting around that they could do that either (mostly because I’m afraid they’ll knock it over).

      Back when Mister Boogers was still alive, Fred would leave cups of iced tea sitting around, and I’d find these splatters on the table around the cup and wonder what was going on. Then one day I walked into the room and saw Mister Boogers sitting by the cup. He stuck his paw in, then licked the iced tea off and repeated. Damn that genius cat, I still miss him!

      • I started to type that I’d dump the glass that paws had been in (because I know what paws carry out of the box and leave scattered around my house and I *know* I don’t want to drink it!)

        And then I remembered where cat tongues go. That must be why I don’t usually use a glass to begin with… lots of water bottles and cups with tops. I knew there had to be a reason!

      • I used to have a ladylike dilute tortie cat that would drink only from the little bit in the bottom of the wide glasses I had – she could fit her head in if she bent her ears back without touching the sides.

        When she died my cat Gus took over the drink from a glass tradition – he pulls over any partly full glass by hooking the top with a claw, then drinks the spill.

        More sanitary, but less pleasing somehow.

    • Well, I used the off-brand cake when I made it the first time in the Spring-form pan and it didn’t work out at all, but what I dug out from in under that crust was mighty tasty!

      And FYI, snobby KNOW-IT-ALL, I used the Betty Crocker cake mix the second time around and IT was the one that cracked all to hell and back. And seriously, the off-brand (Aldi’s brand) tasted better!

      Dude, I’m a gemini (just like you) – you never know if I’m gonna be a cheap bitch or a snob (just like you!). You KNOW better. 🙂

  7. Culinarily (is too a word) speaking, I’m no Amanda, but Nance it looks to me like you baked your cake wayyyy too long.

    Pretty sure that’s what Julie was trying to convey.

  8. I just ♥♥♥♥♥ you both! I love reading the recipes, your wittiness, your humor, your comments, & the comments of others!!! What a joy!!!! Thanks!!!! ♥♥♥♥♥ from Cleveland, Ohio!

  9. Nance, has the Witness Protection Program moved Shirley and Felina? As for the eternal conundrum of the cat and the glass, stick to tap water (insert clip of patronizing New York City waiter asking “Bottled or regular?”). Robyn, if I have “Whip It” on my brain for more than an hour, I’ll be coming for Corbie and holding him for ransom. But seriously, googling the lyrics? Easy. Saving them for just the right moment? Priceless.

  10. On the subject of the crumb topping, you use flour but you don’t cook it? Really? Is that normal? (We interrupt this comment to wonder whether asking if something is normal on this site is going to give the interlocutor an Amanda-esque — Amandian? Amandanian? — rep.)

    • Yeah, you combine the flour and powdered sugar and butter and then don’t cook it. It was weird, and I’m actually thinking that next time I won’t use the crumb topping.

  11. Don’t you hate it when something doesn’t photograph as good as it tastes? I posted a photo of a pasta dish I had made one time and someone left a comment saying the picture made her want to throw up! Hmmm…wonder if that someone was named Amanda…

  12. Got-DAMN, y’all got a lot of comments on this one! But for the record, I’d keep on drinking, even after seeing the cat slurping. I have an incredibly high tolerance for gross shit related to our pets. For the record, I haven’t been sick (with ANYTHING – gastric, respiratory, etc.) for a long, LOOOOONG time. 🙂

  13. Who the hell is this “Amanda” chick everyone is referring to? I’m in the mood for a great flounce. That’s what I get for being a lousy cook and not visiting here enough.

    Oh, and THANKS, ROBYN. I’ve got that damned Devo song going through my head like a crazy train.

    You both took great photos and I wanted to eat both cakes. My selfish side is sorta glad that this wasn’t a 100% win of a cake because I do NOT need more cake in my house.

    • Amanda took great offense at my calling the mixing of a box of angel food cake mix with a can of pineapple and calling it a recipe (in the comments here ).

      Would you believe I heard that song on the radio this morning? I honestly don’t think I’ve heard it for years!

  14. I love those two recipes, especially the cat drinking out of the glass. At our house, I just made pudding in 3 oz cups for a meeting (SUPERCHEAP! PRETTY!!) which you bring with whipped cream. I cook with a 3 year old next to me whose constant refrain is mommyidoit!!i mix it!! (and she actually CAN use my grandmother’s vintage GE handmixer) and then, PUTDESEIN!!PUTDESEIN!!! and “dese” turn out to be minimarshmallows or peppercorns or whatever she’s foraged from the cabinet. That, plus our dog (a tall boxer/pit) poking nose between my body and the counter in moral support means any recipe I make needs to take about THIRTYFIVE SECONDS before calamity strikes.

    THANK you for your recipes — I LOVE this site! What do you have that’s easy that we can make for a ton of teachers 🙂 ???

  15. If my cats lick stuff from my glass I usually will still drink it..but if they stick their dirty, litter box bacterial-laden paws in my glass it’s all theirs! Nance- What is the trick to putting stuff on the sides of cakes?

  16. Amanda wanted me to tell you two that this is not a damn recipe either. All you are doing is making a flippin’ cake mix and mixing up some crap to go inside it and on top of it. It’s barely a step up from the pineapple-angel food debacle. Hell, even Julie could put this off given enough time and a couple of thumbs. Also, Amanda will not be satisfied until there is some gourmet-style fuckery documented on this here website, like a beef Wellington or perhaps bread you make from wheat you grow and grind yourself. I personally think the cake sounds tasty. But Amanda will be be mad if I say that. Shhhhh…

    • Would you believe that in my ignorant cake-mix-loving life, I’ve never ever had Beef Wellington? We used to watch Hell’s Kitchen and I’d say “That looks so good! I’ve got to try to make it!” and then I’d look at the recipe for it and say “No, I’m good.” Complicated, fussy recipes are SO not what we’re about. I know, that’s shocking, right? 🙂

      • Next time Amanda and I have tea and crustless sandwiches, I will ask her if she has a beef Wellington recipe that calls for a box of cake mix. I have only had beef Wellington on cruises, and I cannot recommend it, even after trying it several times. “Hello, I’m a slab of meat covered in GOOSE LIVER and wrapped in pastry, please eat me. ” I feel like it’s a culinary prank that has been passed down through the generations.

  17. Oh come on, you’re not going to tell us Alex’s super-secret method of getting the crumb on the cake?? I need to know and i’m too lazy to google.

    • Shit, Sarah – I’m glad you commented because I completely forgot that someone asked. I saw the comment in my email, walked away to do something else, and it completely slipped my mind. Sheesh!

      I only half listen to my son when he talks (hee), but the part I caught is that they put parchment paper all around it, spread the nuts, sprinkles, whatever on the paper, and then gently bring the paper up around the cake. I suppose it will all smoosh in perfectly if you do it right. But let’s be honest here, I would totally screw that up too. 😉

  18. HAHAHA! I can’t believe I stumbled on Robyn, a blogger I used to follow about a jillion years ago. Googled for Olive Garden Lemon Cream Cake and this blog popped up. As I was reading it and laughing, I wondered… & sure enough, it is Robyn!

  19. Try this version of the cake:

    Olive Garden’s Lemon Cream Cake

    Copy cat recipe of Olive Garden’s Lemon Cream Cake a delicate white cake and lemon cream filling with a vanilla crumb topping.

    Servings: 12

    1 pkg White cake Mix, plus ingredients to prepare
    ½ cup Sour Cream
    1 tsp Vanilla Extract

    1 12 oz pkg Mascarpone Cheese
    1 cup Powdered Sugar
    1 Lemon, juiced
    1 cup Whipping Cream, whipped to stiff peaks

    1⁄2 cup + 1 tablespoons flour
    1⁄2 cup+ 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
    pinch of salt
    1⁄4 cup butter (cold)
    1 teaspoon vanilla

    Powdered sugar for sprinkling before serving

    Preheat oven 350F. Grease and flour 10″ round springform pan.

    Prepare the white cake according to the directions on the box, adding the sour cream and vanilla.

    Bake in prepared pan 40-45 minutes until tester inserted in center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack.

    For the lemon cream filling: mix the mascarpone, powdered sugar, and lemon juice. Fold in the whipped cream until creamy and smooth. Chill until ready to assemble cake.

    For the crumb topping: combine flour, powdered sugar and salt. Cut in butter and vanilla just until crumbles form with a pastry blender. Chill until ready to assemble cake.

    To assemble the cake: cut the cake in half. Set aside 1/2 cup of lemon cream filling and spread remaining filling between the two layers of white cake.

    Frost the top and sides of the cake with a thin layer of the filling and sprinkle the top and press the sides with crumb topping pressing lightly.

    Refrigerate for 2 – 3 hours to set. Sprinkle top of cake lightly with powdered sugar before serving.

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