This gorgeous raspberry lemon cake has the most delicious combination of flavors. It’s fresh and light, and perfect for spring!
I am so excited to finally share my daughter Lizzy’s birthday cake today! When she requested a raspberry lemon cake for her birthday, I was initially a little disappointed, because this tired mom had been hoping to persuade her to go with a Costco cake instead of a homemade cake. Her cute pleading face was too much for me, though, and I agreed to make a cake from scratch for her special day. It actually turned out to be a lot of fun to make, and the end result was probably the prettiest cake I’ve ever made. I’m not super confident in my cake decorating skills, so it was a wonderful boost to my confidence that I made a cake that was not only delicious, but looked gorgeous as well. Most importantly, the birthday girl was happy with it. I loved seeing her face when she came down and saw her cake on the table!
Since I was just making the cake for the four of us, I cut the recipe in half to make three 6 inch layers, instead of the full recipe of three 8 inch layers. I still ended up with enough cake for three nights of dessert for us! I’ll share the full recipe below, but know that it’s pretty easy to scale down or up if you need to. I don’t normally add too many embellishments to my cakes, but I couldn’t resist these cute gold candles and cake topper from Target. Lizzy kept telling me how magical her cake was, so I definitely made the right choice!
The lemon cake is adapted from a vanilla cake recipe I tried several months ago and sent to work with my husband. All of his co-workers raved about it and asked for the recipe, so I knew it was a keeper. I wanted to keep the lemon flavor in the cake light and not overwhelming, and I think it worked out really well. The raspberry buttercream is made with fresh raspberries, and has the most amazing raspberry flavor! All of that beautiful rich color comes from the raspberry puree, and I love that there’s no artificial colors or flavor added. For the filling I also used some homemade raspberry jam that we canned last summer after berry picking, but store-bought jam will also work just fine.
The cake layers are so light and tender, with a sweet buttery flavor and that perfect kiss of lemon. The raspberry buttercream is sweet and just slightly tart, and coordinates beautifully with the raspberry jam. I don’t have any really great tips for frosting the cake except to do a crumb coat on the outside (a thin coat of icing to seal all of the crumbs in), refrigerate the cake for 30 minutes or so, and then add a thicker layer of frosting on the outside. As tempting as it is to skip that step, it really does make all the difference in the finished product. My cake decorating skills are very much still in progress, but I’m okay with that.
This cake has a fair amount of steps and felt a little overwhelming at first, but it was pretty easy for me to break it down into smaller tasks. I made the layers of the cake in the morning and left them on the counter to cool. In the late afternoon, I made the frosting, assembled the cake, and did the crumb coat. I left the cake in the fridge until I was ready to decorate it after dinner, then finished frosting it and added the fresh raspberries and the decorations. That made it easier for me to fit in feeding the baby multiple times, going out to lunch, wrapping gifts, and playing at the park, all important parts of our day. Everyone loved the cake, especially the birthday girl, so I definitely think we will be making it again soon!
Raspberry Lemon CakePrint Recipe
for the lemon cake:
- 2 cups sugar
- zest of two lemons
- 1 1/2 cups butter softened
- 3 large eggs + 2 egg whites at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 3 2/3 cups cake flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
for the raspberry buttercream:
- 12 ounces 2 small packages fresh raspberries
- 1 1/2 cups butter softened
- 5 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- 1-2 tablespoons cream or half and half
- 1 cup raspberry jam
- fresh raspberries for decorating
- Preheat the oven to 350. Line three 8 inch cake pans with parchment and spray with cooking spray. In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, rub the lemon zest into the sugar until fragrant. Add the butter and beat until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and egg whites, vanilla, and lemon juice, and mix until well blended. In a medium bowl, whisk together the cake flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in three additions, alternating with the buttermilk, and mix just until combined. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans and bake 23-26 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Move to a cooling rack and cool completely before frosting.
- To make the frosting, puree the raspberries using a blender or food processor. Strain the raspberries through a sieve to remove the seeds. Add the butter to a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, and beat unti light and fluffy. Add the raspberry puree and powdered sugar, and mix until combined. Add cream as needed to make a smooth frosting. Beat on high speed until light and fluffy.
- To assemble the cake, level each of the cake layers. Place a cake layer on a serving platter or cake stand and spread a 1/4 inch thick layer of frosting over the top. Pipe a ring of frosting around the edges of the cake layer to hold in the jam. Spread 1/2 cup of raspberry jam evenly over the buttercream. Repeat with the next cake layer, then top with the remaining cake layer. Spread a thin coat of frosting over and around the cake to seal in the crumbs. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. After the frosting has set, spread a thicker layer of frosting around the sides and top of the cake, then decorate as desired (I just did little dollops with an open star tip). Refrigerate any leftover cake.