While I didn’t think it was possible, this cake from Lemon-sugar literally did put me into labor. There I was, at 38 weeks pregnant, feeling miserable and uncomfortable, hoping that our baby would be born before New Years since our insurance deductible and out-of-pocket max was 100% met and our little girl would be a nice tax break for us (let’s be real, I’m sure any mom would do the same). I started Googling non-tantalizing ways to induce labor, when I came across this labor-inducing lemon cupcake recipe! I was surprised that it seemed so easy (and tasty!), it didn’t involve consuming 7 pineapple cores, drinking a nasty tea or downing a shot of castor oil (which could result in explosive diarrhea during labor), so how could self-inducing labor seem so sweet?

I’ll tell you. The secret may have been the labor process and not the actual consuming of the lemon cake. This recipe took me about 3 hours to make. It involved standing for long periods of time, inhaling citrusy deliciousness, and LOTS of zesting, juicing, and slicing of lemons!!! My intention was to make this as a cake, eat a few slices, and hopefully go into labor within a few days, but not even 5 minutes after I finished frosting the cake, I felt a GUSH and realized my water had broken. I didn’t even get to try the cake! This was Saturday at about 3:30pm.

It was all a blur from there. My husband, being the trooper that he is, scrambled through the house packing up his suitcase and arranging for our toddler to be watched while I sat on the toilet, anxiously wondering if the baby was going to come out right then and there. I’ve watched too many Youtube labor videos haha.

We finally arrived at the hospital about half an hour later, and the nurse confirmed that my water had broken, and I was induced from there (Pitocin is of the devil, seriously) and our little girl was born on Sunday morning just before 7am!

So here’s the recipe that started it all. It was originally designed to make 6-12 cupcakes, but I halved the recipe and made this small cake with it instead, which is the recipe shared below. For safety purposes, I do not recommend making this recipe prior to 38 weeks gestationally. Best of luck and let me know how it goes!

Lemon Labor Inducing Cake

3 hours

20 minutes

3 hours, 20 minutes

Category: Dessert

Yield: one 8 inch round cake, serves 6

Lemon Labor Inducing Cake


  • Cake Ingredients:
  • 1 stick unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 cup white/granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup grated lemon zest (2-4 lemons, depending on size)
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Lemon Syrup Ingredients:
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup white/granulated sugar
  • Glaze Ingredients:
  • 1 cup powdered/confectioners sugar
  • 1 2/3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Buttercream Ingredients:
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered/confectioners sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice


  1. Cake Directions:
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare an 8 inch round cake pan by lightly spraying it with a cooking spray of your choice.
  3. Cream the butter and sugar in bowl of stand mixer with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the eggs one at a time, and lemon zest.
  5. In another bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  6. In another bowl, combine lemon juice, buttermilk and vanilla.
  7. Add the flour mixture and the buttermilk mixture alternately to the batter, beginning and ending with the flour.
  8. Pour batter into cake pan and bake for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  9. Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack.
  10. While the cake is cooling, prepare the lemon syrup. This will add moisture to the cake.
  11. Syrup Directions:
  12. Combine sugar and lemon juice in a heavy-bottom pan over low heat until sugar dissolves, stirring frequently.
  13. After the cake has cooled for 10 minutes, spoon the syrup over the tops of the cake.
  14. Then allow cake to cool completely before glazing and frosting.
  15. Glaze Directions:
  16. Combine sugar and lemon juice in a bowl, mixing with a wire whisk until smooth.
  17. Using the back of a large spoon, smooth some glaze over the top of the cake.
  18. Buttercream Directions:
  19. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and salt for about 30 seconds.
  20. Add the powdered sugar, milk, vanilla and lemon juice and beat 5-6 minutes until frosting is fluffy.
  21. If desired, add some yellow (gel or icing) food coloring.
  22. Add to piping bag and frost as desired.
  23. Sprinkle with yellow sugar pearls, sugar, or a thin lemon slice for decoration.


*Prep time includes zesting and juicing the lemons while being super tired, trying to entertain a toddler with a tantrum, sitting down every 20 minutes from the joint pains, and being heavily burdened with BELLY.

*You can also make 6-12 cupcakes with this recipe.