Soft, light, airy, yet deliciously moist, and full of refreshing lemon flavor, this Lemon Raspberry Cake with Lemon Curd is the PERFECT cake for summer!
Plus, this lemon raspberry cake is deceptively easy to make!
I mentioned in my easy homemade lemon curd post from earlier that lemon desserts are a fantastic choice in the summer! So when we were invited for a BBQ last week, I knew I wanted to take something lemony. The result? This delicious Lemon Raspberry Cake (with Lemon Curd)!
And in case you guys missed my intro from last week…. we have a new addition to our family! Zuko, our little beagle puppy is turning 11 weeks this week. Because of that hell raiser, I wanted to make a lemon cake that was easy, and didn’t require me in the kitchen for long periods of time. If you’d like a Zuko update, just scroll to the end of this post! 🙂
This soft, moist, and very summery lemon cake couldn’t be easier to make. Simply measure out the wet and dry ingredients and mix ’em all together! No creaming butter and sugar, or adding flour to eggs a little at a time. This cake works well as a vanilla cake too, but I’ll share that recipe another time. If you’re looking for a vanilla cake however, you can check out my classic vanilla cake recipe here. This lemon cake is made with lemon zest processed with sugar and lemon juice, for a deliciously refreshing and summer-worthy dessert!
I made several batches of lemon curd for this lemon cake to perfect the recipe, which I’ve shared right here. And with the bounty of raspberries available in summer, I knew I wanted to incorporate that into the cake as well.
How to add lemon flavor to any cake
Just like in my lemon curd recipe, I processed lemon peel and sugar together until finely processed to get a robust lemon flavor in the cake. I use the lemon zest of 2 lemons, although I only use the juice of 1 lemon (1/4 cup). Mostly because I prefer using zest over lemon juice when baking cakes, because the zest adds a more fragrant flavor in baked goods.
However, if you’d like an even stronger lemon flavor in your cake, you can make a lemon syrup (1 cup lemon juice + 1/2 cup sugar, then boiled) and drizzle it over the cake. Since I use lemon curd as filling here, I didn’t need the lemon syrup.
Which lemon curd to use for this lemon raspberry cake?
In my homemade lemon curd post, I talk about spoonable lemon curd that’s thick and luscious, but still soft. If you cook this further, then you get a lemon curd that’s even thicker and pipeable.
If you’re planning on storing this lemon cake with raspberry buttercream in the fridge, then it won’t really matter which version of lemon curd you use. However, if the cake is going to be sitting outside and it’s a hot day, then use the thicker, pipeable lemon curd. It’ll be more stable, and not seep out out when you cut the cake into slices.
How to bake this lemon raspberry cake? Could I make a sheet cake instead of a layer cake?
I bake this cake in two, 8 inch, round cake pans. This takes about 20 -25 minutes. It’s important to make sure the cake is baked though before removing it from the oven, because if the cake is underdone in the middle, then it can collapse as it cools down.
You can also bake this lemon raspberry cake in a 9 x 13 inch sheet pan. This would take about 30 – 35 minutes.
If you do bake this cake in round pans, you can serve it as two single layer cakes, OR sandwich it with lemon curd like I have done here.
With the 9 x 13 inch pan, you can serve this cake as a sheet pan lemon cake, or cut the cake in half and stack them for a square layer cake.
For a layer cake – fill the middle (sandwich the two cake layers) with lemon curd and fresh raspberries, and then frost the entire cake with raspberry frosting.
For a single layer sheet pan cake – you can either create a lemon poke cake (poke holes while the cake is still hot and spread the lemon curd over the surface so that it’s absorbed into the cake), OR you can just soak the cake with lemon syrup. Then when it cools down, top it with raspberry frosting.
Making raspberry frosting for this lemon cake (lemon cake with raspberry buttercream)
My raspberry frosting is based on my classic vanilla buttercream. Instead of the cream in that recipe, I add raspberries here. If you add both, the buttercream would be too soft, and may split.
I also mainly use the raspberry buttercream to frost the outside of this cake. This lemon raspberry cake also has fresh raspberries in the filling. This is optional, but it does add a nice fruity flavor to the cake.
How to prevent the raspberry frosting from splitting
- Always start with cool butter (not chilled or cold or really soft butter).
- Whisk the butter well, until nice and fluffy.
- Reduce the amount of liquid as much as possible. Do not add cream. And the raspberries should be the only soft (juicy) addition.
- Fresh vs frozen raspberries – You can use either. Fresh raspberries can be added just as they are.
- Frozen raspberries need to be prepped. Place the frozen raspberries on a paper towel and let them thaw overnight. As the raspberries thaw out, excess water will be absorbed by the paper towel. Next, mix a little cornstarch with the softened raspberries. The cornstarch also helps absorb excess moisture. This can then be added to the frosting.
How to frost a cake the right way
Since this lemon cake with lemon curd has a softer filling than buttercream, it’s important to frost it the right way to keep it nice and level and stable. Thankfully, that’s super easy to do!
The first tip is pretty obvious – make sure the cakes are baked evenly.
I like to evenly divide the cake batter between cake pans by weighing the cake batter into each pan. For this lemon cake, it’s usually about 520 g per pan.
Remember to rotate the cake pans once in the oven to ensure that they bake evenly. You can also use bake even strips to make this process even more foolproof. I didn’t do that here, only because I still have one unpacked cake equipment box from our move to Canada, which has my bake even strips. 🙂
If the cakes aren’t even, don’t worry. You can slice the top of the cake to make it even. I do this most of the time when I don’t use bake even strips.
Second tip – create a buttercream “wall” for your cake filling.
The problem with a soft filling is that when you use it to fill cake layers, it can leak out from the middle and create uneven layers.
To make sure the lemon curd stays between the cake layers and is evenly spread, pipe a border of raspberry buttercream along the edge of the bottom cake layer (as you can see in the pictures in this post). This creates a sturdy buttercream wall, and then you can fill the middle with lemon curd.
Third tip – don’t forget the crumb coating.
I always add a crumb coating to my layer cakes. The only time I won’t do this is if I make a naked cake. The crumb coating is a thin coating of buttercream spread on the cake, which traps loose crumbs and keep them from ruining the outer frosting layer. Plus, if there are any dips, gaps or holes on the surface of the cake, applying a crumb coating can help achieve a smooth surface.
Fourth tip – extra buttercream is better than running out of buttercream.
Extra buttercream can fix most cakes. Your cake doesn’t look even? Just add an extra layer of buttercream on that side. The edges don’t look nice? Use extra buttercream to pipe decorations along the edges. I like big swirls of buttercream on top, so I make sure to make extra buttercream for that.
This lemon raspberry cake is a slice of summer, with refreshing lemon and fruity raspberry flavors. The raspberry frosting is buttery and has just the right amount of fruity sweetness, which perfectly complements the tangy lemon filling!
Zuko is a handful and needs constant supervision and attention, but luckily, house training is going pretty smoothly, with just the odd bump here and there!
He now knows how to “sit down” and “shake” like a pro! He even does lie down and roll over, but only if the treat is worth the effort… he’s a cheeky bastard for sure.
Lemon Raspberry Cake
This lemon raspberry cake is super easy cake to make, and with a thick layer of tangy lemon curd in the middle, and raspberry buttercream all over, this cake is full of refreshing lemon and fruity raspberry flavors!
- Peel of 2 lemons
- 10.6 oz white sugar 1 ½ cups
- 9.7 oz AP flour 2⅓ cups
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp salt I use sea salt. Use slightly more if you’re using kosher salt.
- 4 oz unsalted butter melted ½ cup butter
- 3.5 oz vegetable oil by weight (½ cup oil)
- ¼ cup lemon juice 1 - 2 lemons
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ½ cup hot milk
Lemon Curd filling
recipe for lemon curdthe pipeable version is recommended
- ½ cup frozen raspberries approximately
- 2 tsp cornstarch
- 12 oz unsalted butter (3 sticks) cool but not cold
- ½ tsp salt generous 1/2 tsp
- 2 tsp good quality vanilla
- 14 oz confectioner's sugar in weight (3 ½ cups measured by spoon and level method)
- Extra fresh raspberries (for the filling and to decorate - optional)
Preheat oven to 350°F / 180°C. Line the bottom of two 8 inch pans with parchment paper and butter and dust the sides. Set aside for later.
Carefully peel the yellow peel of two lemons. Try to avoid the white pith on the lemons.
Place the sugar and lemon peel in a food processor, and process until the peel is finely minced.
Place the lemon sugar in a large bowl.
- Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt into the same bowl with the sugar. Whisk to combine. These are the dry ingredients.
- Place the melted butter, oil, vanilla, eggs, and lemon juice in a large jug. Whisk to combine well. These are the wet ingredients.
Add the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Mix until they are well-mixed. Take care not to over-mix the batter however.
Add the hot milk and stir until fully incorporated.
Divide the batter between the two 8 inch pans (about 18 oz / 515 g of batter for each pan).
Bake in the center of your oven for 25 minutes, rotating the cake pans once, halfway through the baking time. A toothpick inserted into the middle should come out clean when the cake is baked.
Remove from the oven and let them cool for a few minutes. Flip the cakes over onto a cooling rack and let them cool completely.
Once the cakes have cooled down completely, cut any uneven surfaces to make the cake tops smooth and evenly-tall.
Lemon Curd filling
Make 1 batch of lemon curd according to the recipe here. Let it refrigerate overnight.
Put 2 - 3 paper towels on a plate and spread the frozen raspberries on them. Keep the plate in the fridge overnight to let the raspberries thaw out and soften. Excess moisture will be absorbed by the paper towels.
Crush the raspberries (they will be soft enough for this), and measure about ⅓ cup of the packed raspberry “puree”. Transfer this into a bowl and mix 2 tsp of cornstarch into the raspberry. Set aside.
Place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer. With a whisk attachment, whip the butter until creamy and white in color, for about 3 - 5 minutes, on high speed (not maximum speed). Make sure to scrape down the sides as you go, so that all the butter is whisked.
- Add the salt and vanilla, and whisk further until the butter-cream mix is light and fluffy (for a couple of minutes).
Lower the speed and add the 14 oz of the confectioner's sugar, a little at a time, and incorporate all the sugar into the butter-cream mix. Make sure to scrape down the sides as you go.
When the sugar has incorporated into the butter, increase the speed and whisk on high for about 2 - 3 minutes until the frosting is lightly fluffy and soft. In the final minute, add the raspberry-cornstarch mix, and mix it into the frosting.
Optional - before mixing the raspberry into the frosting, remove about ¾ cup of the plain frosting and color it with a little yellow food coloring to create an ombre look for later.
Place the raspberry buttercream in a large piping bag with a 1 cm round piping tip attached.
Assembling the cake
Place 1 cake layer on a serving tray. Make sure the top of the cake is facing up.
Pipe raspberry buttercream along the edge of the cake to create a "wall" of raspberry frosting. Fill the middle with lemon curd and spread evenly.
Place a row of fresh raspberries on the lemon curd, along the edge (optional).
Top with the second cake layer (with the top of the cake facing down this time, so that you have a very leveled surface on top).
Apply a very thin crumb coat on the cake with the buttercream. You can use raspberry buttercream or plain buttercream for this purpose (I used plain buttercream for the cake in this post). Make sure to have straight sides and a clean surface on the top of the cake.
Refrigerate for about one hour (or freeze for a few minutes) until the crumb coating has set.
Frost the cake over the crumb coating with the raspberry buttercream frosting. Using an offset spatula, make the surfaces smooth. Optionally, you can apply dots of yellow buttercream and create an ombre look as well.
- Top the cake with buttercream swirls. Refrigerate until ready to serve.