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Lemon Raspberry Layer Cake

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This Lemon Raspberry Layer Cake features mascarpone whipped cream and lemon curd between layers of moist cake loaded with fresh, tangy raspberries. It the perfect balance of sweet and tart, and the cake is so beautiful. It’s perfect for birthdays, baby and bridal showers, and other spring occasions.

A slice of lemon raspberry layer cake on a plate

The Best Lemon Raspberry Cake

One of my favorite combinations is lemon and fruit. I am not one to wait to wait until summer to enjoy a lemon dessert, especially if there’s cake involved.

This Lemon Raspberry Cake is made with my spongy lemon buttermilk cake and it’s loaded with fresh raspberries, layers of mascarpone whipped cream and tangy lemon curd.  I’ve used this same lemon cake recipe to make lemon cupcakes, poke cakes and several other layer cakes. It’s makes a really moist cake that’s a little bit denser, making it great for stacking.

The lemon flavor in this cake comes from lemon juice, lemon zest, and lemon curd. The lemon curd really adds that punch of tangy lemon flavor but if you prefer a more subtle taste, feel free to omit it altogether.

If you don’t love raspberries, I’ve also made this as a lemon blueberry and lemon blackberry as well. You really can’t go wrong with any of these options and, in fact, I recommend trying all three!

One thing I do love about this cake is how beautiful it looks when decorated with just a bit of extra frosting, some lemon slices, and fresh raspberries. This is definitely a cake that can be served up at special occasions, from birthdays to baby showers!

Key Ingredients

Here are a few of the essential ingredients in this delightful lemon dessert. See the recipe card below for the full ingredient list.

  • Lemons – Both the zest and juice are used to create the lemon flavor.
  • Light sour cream – You can also substitute plain Greek yogurt or full fat sour cream.
  • Buttermilk – I like the slight flavor and tender crumb buttermilk creates but in a pinch regular milk will work.
  • Raspberries – I’ve only tested this with fresh raspberries but frozen raspberries should work just fine as well.
  • Mascarpone cheese – It should still be cold when you begin making the frosting.
  • Lemon curd – I buy a jar from the store for ease, though you can also make your own.

Can I Make This With Other Berries?

Pretty much any type of berries pair well with lemon and can be used to make a lemon layer cake. Blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries are my personal favorites. You can even use a mix of different berries if you like a variety of flavor!

Lemon zest in a white dish

How to Make Lemon Raspberry Layer Cake

Preparing and assembling this lemon raspberry cake is surprisingly easy. Just be sure to allow plenty of time for the cake layers to cool before assembling. This is a great dessert to make a day in advance!

  1. Prepare the batter. Beat the sugar, oil, eggs, and lemon extract until well incorporated and lighter in color. Zest 2 lemons into the batter, along with 1/4 cup of lemon juice and the sour cream. In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Add half of the dry ingredients, then beat in half of the buttermilk. Repeat with the remaining dry ingredients and buttermilk. Beat until everything is well combined.
  2. Add the raspberries. Gently toss the raspberries with flour then fold into the batter. Reserve a few to add later.
  3. Bake. Divide the batter evenly into the three pans. Top with the remaining raspberries. Bake for 20 to 23 minutes, rotating halfway through.

4. Make the frosting. Beat the cold mascarpone cheese on medium-low, slowly pouring in the heavy cream. Beat until soft peaks form. Add in the powdered sugar and vanilla. Beat until stiff peaks form.

Mascarpone whipped cream in a mixing bowl

5. Assemble the cake. Use a cake leveler to cut the domes off the cake. Place a dollop of frosting on your cake board and top with the first cake layer. Pipe a layer of frosting on top, then spread half of the lemon curd over it. Add the second cake layer and repeat the process. Top with the final cake layer.

6. Frost. Fill in any gaps between layers and create a crumb coat. Frost the top and sides of the cake with the offset spatula. Pipe florets on the top with any remaining frosting then garnish with lemon slices and raspberries. Refrigerate until serving.

Helpful Tips for Baking This Cake

Here are a few things I’ve found helpful when baking this lemon layer cake.

  • Toss the berries in flour prior to adding to the batter. This helps absorb some of the moisture and hold them in place in the batter.
  • What’s the best pan to use? For the layers of cake, I use three 8-inch baking pans. The cake makes about 5 ½ cups of batter, so approximately 1 2/3 cups of batter per pan.
  • The cake layers may not bake evenly, but that’s okay. You’ll want to torte them so they’re nice and even. I prefer to use a cake leveler since the cake is very moist, it’s harder to use a knife.
  • Always line the pans. It’s important that you line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper or 8-inch silicone baking liners. This will ensure you can easily remove the cakes from the pan
  • I also like to use bake-even stripes to help my cakes bake flatter. They prevent the edges of the cake from baking too quickly which forces the batter of the cake in the middle to pool up and dome.
  • Place the thickest cake on the bottom. If your layers are not all the same thickness, place your thickest and flattest layer on the bottom.
A lemon raspberry layer cake with a slice missing

Working With Mascarpone Whipped Cream Frosting

This frosting is such a gift. It’s thicker, like a mousse, and more stable whipped cream. It’s so perfect because it’s not overly sweet like a frosting so it doesn’t overpower the layers in the cake.

I have a whole tutorial specifically for the mascarpone whipped cream including a step-by-step video and detailed instructions.

My most important tip? Start with very cold ingredients.

I recommend placing a metal mixer and whisk in the freezer for 5-10 minutes prior to starting. Also, keep your ingredients refrigerated up until you’re ready to use them.

Even though it’s a stable whipped cream, it’s still a whipped cream. So, try your best not to handle it too much. Use it right away and keep your bowl in the fridge when you’re not working with it. Do not plan on making this ahead of time, you should prepare and use it right away for the best results.

If you find that your frosting is wilting too quickly, it’s likely that you did not whip it long enough. You can try and continue mixing it again and maybe add a touch more powdered sugar to achieve a better consistency.

A slice of lemon raspberry cake on a plate

My Cake Layers Are Sliding! What Should I Do?

A few readers have mentioned on other layer cake recipes that their layers seem to be sliding one way or the other. There are a few things that could cause this – uneven cake layers, too much frosting between layers, or the whipped cream is not stiff enough.

To fix the issue, place 3 to 4 straws or dowels in the cake and refrigerate prior to adding the final layer of frosting. Once you remove the straws or dowels and add the final layer of frosting, no one will ever know!

How to Store

This is the perfect cake to make ahead of time since it has to be refrigerated anyway! Once frosted, this raspberry lemon cake can be stored in the fridge for up to 2 days. I recommend keeping it in a cake carrier. I’ve found that the easiest way to keep it covered without messing up the frosting!

Without the frosting, the cake layers themselves can be kept for a few extra days. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap once they cool, with layers of parchment paper on the top and bottom. Then just uncover and add the frosting the day you want to enjoy the cake.

More Lemon Cake Recipes

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A slice of lemon raspberry cake on a pink plate

Lemon Raspberry Layer Cake

  • Author: Julianne Dell
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 23 minutes
  • Total Time: 53 minutes
  • Yield: 10-12 slices

Description

This Lemon Raspberry Layer Cake features mascarpone whipped cream and lemon curd between layers of moist cake loaded with fresh, tangy strawberries. It’s the perfect balance of sweet and tart, and the cake is so beautiful. It’s perfect for birthdays, baby and bridal showers, and other spring occasions.

Ingredients

For the cake:

  • 2 cups (380g) granulated sugar
  • ½ cup (118 ml) vegetable oil
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 lemons- zested and juiced (see below)
  • 1 teaspoon (5ml) Lemon (or vanilla) extract
  • ½ cup (118 ml) sour cream (or Greek or plain yogurt)
  • 2 ½ cups (350 g) all-purpose flour
  • 3 teaspoons (11.2 g) baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon (5 g) salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk (236 ml) (or milk)
  • 1/4 cup (59ml)  fresh lemon juice
  • 9 ounces raspberries
  • 2 tablespoons (15.6g) all-purpose flour

For the frosting:

  • 2 ¼ cups (532ml) heavy whipping cream
  • 1 cup (130g) powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon (5ml) Vanilla (or lemon) extract
  • 16 ounces mascarpone cheese, cold
  • 1 jar (10 ounces) Lemon Curd

Instructions

For the cake: 

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Prepare three 8-inch round baking pans, line the bottom with parchment paper and grease the sides. Prepare your bake even stripes if desired.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the sugar, vegetable oil, eggs, and lemon extract. Beat on medium speed until the well incorporated. Scrape down the bowl as needed
  3. Next, zest 2 lemons into the batter and then juice the lemons to get 1/4 cup of lemon juice. Add the lemon zest, lemon juice and sour cream to the batter beat until well combined.
  4. Combine the dry ingredients in a separate bowl then add half the dry ingredients to the batter, beat on low speed while pouring in half of the buttermilk and mix just until the flour starts to incorporate. Add the remaining dry ingredients and buttermilk and mix to combine. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl and stir the batter from the bottom to the top to ensure it’s well mixed.
  5. Toss the raspberries with 2 tablespoons of flour. Then gently fold the raspberries into the batter, saving a small handful to drop on top of the cake batter.
  6. Divide the batter evenly between the three pans, about 1 2/3 cups of batter per pan. Drop the remaining raspberries on top. Bake at 350°F for 20-23 minutes. Rotate your pans in the oven halfway through baking. Test the cake for doneness by inserting a toothpick into the center of the cake. If the toothpick comes out clean, you cake is done. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.

For the frosting: 

  1. Place the mixing bowl and whisk attachment in the freezer for 5 to 10 minutes to chill.
  2. Spoon the cold mascarpone cream into the bowl and beat on a medium-low speed (speed 3 on your stand mixer). Slowly pour in the heavy cream, about 1/4-1/2 cup, allowing the mascarpone cheese to turn to a liquid consistency. Then adding the remaining heavy cream. Increase the mixing speed to high (speed 8-10) and beat it until soft peaks form.
  3. Next, add the powdered sugar and vanilla extract, beating on low until sugar is incorporated. Then continue beating at a high speed until stiff peaks form.

To Assemble The Cake

  1. Use a cake leveler to cut the domes off the top of the cake. Place a dollop of frosting on your cake board and place the bottom layer of cake on top of that.
  2. Place half of the whipped cream in a large piping bag fitted with a large open round tip, or simply cut off the end of the piping bag. Pipe a layer of frosting and spread evenly. Then spread half of the lemon curd over mascarpone filling. Add the second layer of cake and repeat the above steps using all of the remaining lemon curd. Next, add the final layer of cake on top.
  3. Use your piping bag to fill in any gaps between your layers and to create a crumb coat. Using an offset spatula or icing smoother, wipe away the excess frosting, leaving you just enough to coat the outside of the cake. Do not mix your crumb coating frosting back into your icing if it has cake debris in it.
  4. Proceed to frost the top and sides of the cake using your offset spatula. Once the sides of the cake are covered, use you icing smoother to remove any excess frosting. You can take the end of your offset spatula and gently place them against the sides of the cake as your rotate your cake to add a little texture.
  5. Use remaining frosting to pipe the florets on the top of the cake using an Ateco 809 tip (large open round). Garnish with lemon slices and leftover raspberries. This cake must be refrigerated.

Notes

  • To make homemade buttermilk: follow this tutorial
  • See my detailed tutorial for the Mascarpone Whipped Cream
  • Make ahead and storage instructions: Once frosted, this cake can be made up to 2 days in advance and stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container such as a cake carrier. To make the layers ahead of time, cool completely, line the top and bottom with parchment paper and tightly wrap in plastic wrap.
  • Sub blueberries with raspberries or blackberries
  • I do not recommend making the frosting in advance and storing it separately. Make the frosting and frost the cake immediately. Then store in the refrigerator.
  • Frozen berries: Note that I have not tested this with frozen blueberries but it should work. Frozen berries may have more moisture than fresh ones. Toss in the batter when frozen and do not coat in flour
Nutrition Information:
1 slice
682
60g
370.2mg
32.8g
21.1g
91.8g
4.5g
8.7g
112.6mg
  • Category: Cake
  • Method: Baked
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: lemon layer cake, lemon raspberry cake, lemon dessert

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22 Responses
  1. Mary

    Made this formy daughter’s 18 th birthday and followed recipe exactly. Outstanding results! I’ve never made or had ‘frosting’ like this. It was fabulous!!

  2. Lorra

    Enjoyed reading the instructions. And seeing the pics, I think I’m going to make this for my dad and his wife, she loves lemon and he loves desserts! I’m wondering is there a way to cut down on the sugar at all? I cant have the sugar as I have reactive hypoglycemia…some I could handle but would love to get the sugars lower!

  3. Tiffany

    Absolutely delicious!!! I personally dont like whipped frosting, so I was weary about this recipe. But I decided to give it a try. I’m so glad I did!!! It’s so good, and I was impressed with how well it paired with the lemon curd. My new favorite cake recipe! I highly reccomend and will be making it again and again!

  4. Jean

    Awww, I’m back to find the same recipe for Finn’s fifth birthday cake and am so delighted you’ve made the lemon raspberry official Beyond Frosting version! I am thinking of using your buttercream icing with lemon curd instead of the mascarpone as I suspect it may be a little easier to handle… a rainbow cake was the request and I’m no frosting queen! I might use some lemon extract in the icing instead of vanilla.

  5. Gemma

    Oh wow, this sounds simply delicious! I just had to pin it. I love how fluffy it looks. Whenever I make layer cakes, my layers never look this defined. I have to try this xo

  6. Erin

    Yum! I love lemon and raspberry, especially together ♡ Oh, and I love that you’re including pictures of the batter/stacking process/frosting now; I like seeing all the different components as I read.

    1. Jean Russell

      Our beloved family birthday cake! Made a dinosaur version for my 3yo twins’ birthday yesterday. A great success. Two different people asked me to make their wedding and birthday cakes! Thank you again.

      1. Beyond Frosting

        Omg Jean I love that! The dinosaur version, I need to see it! Thank you so much for including my recipes in your birthday celebrations.

      2. Jean Russell

        I’m going to try a chocolate and black cherry version, keeping everything else the same.

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