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?)