Romanian Layered Lemon Cake (Snow White) – Prajitura Alba ca Zapada

A gray plate shaped like a flour, with five pieces of cake on it, cut in the shape of a diamond. The plate sits on a white and yellow tea towel

The Romanian layered lemon cake is one of the most popular cakes for Christmas or Easter. In Romania, we serve a platter of different cakes at the end of a holiday or celebratory meal, and the Snow White is part of it. Whilst these days you can just order your platter at any cake shop, many people are still making them at home – because there is no better taste than the homemade one. Another advantage of making the cakes at home is that you have full control of the quality of the ingredients you are using.

As a child, I always looked forward to the end of the meal, to see what cakes my mom made. Sometimes, I would be in the kitchen when she prepared them, and it was my absolute delight to lick the bowl once she would put the cake in the oven.

The name of this cake, Snow White, suggests how its appearance and taste are: white and delicate.

The Ingredients for the Romanian Layered Lemon Cake 

A few of the ingredients for this cake: a green bottle of milk, an orange packet of sugar, a yellow package of flour, two eggs, a small pack of ammonia for cakes

I made this delicate Romanian Snow White cake the other week when I organised a small friend gathering for St Nicholas Day. Because of the dietary requirements among my friends, I made it dairy-free – even though the original recipe requires milk and butter. It turned out as delicious as the original, without any taste alterations.

You don’t need a lot of ingredients to make this delicate Romanian cake. You probably already have most of the staple ingredients in your pantry: flour, sugar, oil, milk, butter, lemon, and vanilla essence. The one ingredient that you might not have is the ammonia for cakes. If you can’t find it, you can replace it with baking powder. It should be easily available in Romanian and other Eastern European shops. I have also seen it on Amazon.

How to Make the Romanian Snow White Cake 

Two eggs, milk, and oil inside an orange bowl, with a whisk inside.

At first glance, the making of this Romanian layered lemon cake might seem like a mammoth task. But it’s not, as long as you organise each process, and do them one at a time.

The dough is very easy to make – you don’t even need a mixer for it. The cream is a take on custard, with extra lemon and vanilla.

Start with the dough, by mixing well all the wet ingredients: milk, eggs, sugar, and oil. Add a few drops of lemon juice over the ammonia powder, and add it to the mix once the sugar has dissolved. Mix well. Start incorporating the flour little by little, until you obtain an elastic dough that doesn’t stick to your hands. Let it rest for half an hour.

My hand kneading the dough inside the orange bowl.

After the resting time has passed, divide the dough into three equal pieces and start rolling them thinly, with a rolling pin, in the shape of your baking tin. If you don’t have a rolling pin, you can also use a wine bottle powdered with flour.

Put each sheet of dough on baking paper, and bake it on the back of the tray for 15 minutes. Don’t worry about the smell of ammonia coming from the oven, when you open it. That won’t last, and you won’t taste it at all. The layers are done when they are slightly brown. Take them out of the oven and let them cool down.

A sheet of the dough rolled thinly on a baking paper

Meanwhile, make the cream. Start by mixing the flour, sugar, and lemon zest. Add the milk slowly, as if you were making bechamel sauce. You will first have a paste, which will become more and more liquid with each bit of milk you pour into the pan.

Once you finished all the milk, place the pot on the stove, over low heat. Mix continuously with a whisk, until you obtain a thick cream – should be around 20 minutes. Turn the heat off and mix in the lemon juice and the vanilla essence. Let the cream cool down.

The roux like cream, before the milk is added, inside a stainless steel pot with a whisk inside

Once the cream has cooled down, start fluffing it up with a hand whisk. Add a know of butter, and mix again a few times. Repeat until you finish the entire pack of butter. Make sure not to over-mix the cream, so it doesn’t split.

The last step in making the Romanian layered lemon cake is putting all the layers together.

The assembled cake inside the baking tray, ready for the fridge

Put a large piece of cling film (should be three times the width of the cake) at the bottom of the pan which you have used to bake the layers on. Add the first sheet over, and cover with a generous layer of cream. Add the second layer and repeat. Add the third layer, and cover with the last layer of cream. Top everything with coconut flakes. Cover the cake with the remaining cling film. Put a chopping board on top, and place two heavy books over. Then, put the tray in the fridge and leave it there overnight, for the layers to soften.

Enjoy at room temperature, at the end of a celebratory meal. Or, impress your friends with it, as I did a couple of nights ago.   


  • Because I was serving this cake to friends, one of whom is lactose intolerant, I made the Romanian Snow White cake dairy-free. I used lactose-free milk, as well as plant butter, which did not modify the original taste of the cake.
  • You must add the lemon juice on top of the ammonia before baking, to neuter it. You can also use a few drops of vinegar for this process.
  • The easiest way to bake the sponge for this cake is on the back of the tin you plan to build it in. This way the layers will fit perfectly inside, where you will have to keep it until it sets.
  • You need to let this cake set for at least 12 hours. Take this into consideration when you plan the preparation of the Romanian layered lemon cake.
  • Make sure the butter is at room temperature, very soft. All ingredients should be at room temperature before you start baking
  • If the cream doesn’t thicken, you can add a tablespoon of cornstarch dissolved into water into the mix, and keep on low heat whisking continuously for another 5 minutes or so.
A gray plate shaped like a flour, with five pieces of cake on it, cut in the shape of a diamond. The plate sits on a white and yellow tea towel

Romanian Layered Lemon Cake – Snow Cake

This Romanian layered lemon cake has a delicate lemon flavour. It's a perfect dessert for the end of a celebratory dinner, or a holiday meal.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours 10 minutes
Resting time 12 hours
Course Dessert
Cuisine Romanian
Servings 6 people


For the dough

  • 550 gr flour
  • 10 tbsp milk
  • 10 tbsp vegetable oil or any other neutral oil
  • 10 tbsp caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 pack ammonia for cakes
  • a few drops of lemon juice
  • pinch of salt

For the cream

  • 1 L milk
  • 200 gr butter
  • 6 tbsp sugar
  • 10 tbsp flour
  • zest from one lemon
  • juice from one or two lemons to taste
  • 1 tbsp vanilla essence

To decorate

  • coconut flakes


  • Put the milk, egg, oil, and sugar in a bowl, and mix well until everything combines and the sugar melts.
  • Put a few drops of lemon juice over the ammonia (it will start bubbling).
  • Add it to the wet ingredients and mix it well.
  • Add the salt.
  • Start incorporating the flour, bit by bit, until you get an elastic dough, oily, that doesn’t stick.
  • Let the dough rest for 30 minutes.
  • Divide the dough into 3 equal parts.
  • Roll each dough thinly into a rectangular shape, to fit on the back of the tray you will bake it on.
  • Bake each sheet on baking paper, the back of the tray, for 15 minutes, at 150 degrees Celsius.
  • Let them cool down.
  • Start making the cream by mixing the flour with the sugar and the lemon zest.
  • Add the milk slowly and mix well, as you would make a roux.
  • When you finish adding the milk, put the pot on a low heat.
  • Whisk continuously for around 20 minutes, until the cream thickens and resembles a custard.
  • Turn the heat off and add the lemon juice and the vanilla essence.
  • Mix well and let to cool.
  • After 15-20 minutes, start whisking the butter, piece by piece.
  • Don’t over-whisk, as you risk splitting the cream.
  • Place a large piece of cling film over the baking tray you used to bake the sheets on.
  • Add the first layer of the cake, and cover it with a generous amount of cream.
  • Add the second layer, and repeat.
  • Add the third layer, and finish it with the rest of the cream.
  • Cover with coconut flakes.
  • Wrap the cake with the rest of the cling film and place a chopping board on top.
  • Add a heavy object on top, such as two books, and put the tray in the fridge.
  • Let it sit for 12 hours, better overnight.
  • Cut it and serve it at room temperature.


A gray plate shaped like a flour, with five pieces of cake on it, cut in the shape of a diamond. The plate sits on a white and yellow tea towel

How to store the Romanian layered lemon cake?

The best way to store the Romanian lemon cake is in air-tight closed containers, in the fridge. The cake will last for up to three days without drying out.

How to serve the Romanian Snow White cake? 

Serve the Romanian layered lemon cake at room temperature. The butter in the cream will harden in the fridge and will need at least half an hour to soften, at room temperature.

For more traditional Romanian desserts check out my recommendations below:

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