Raspberry Lemon Cake Recipe

This Lemon Raspberry Cake recipe is a show stopping dessert everyone will be raving about, based off my popular Lemon Blueberry Cake!  Learn how to make it 100% ahead of time or in stages with step-by-step photos, a full video tutorial, and plenty of helpful tips. With its bright, fresh, tangy lemon flavor, mega moistness (thanks to the reverse creaming method), layers of raspberry filling (homemade or store-bought) and lemon cream cheese frosting, this Raspberry Lemon Cake is truly ethereal and worth every second of making!

Watch HOW TO MAKE Lemon Raspberry Cake

up close of Lemon Raspberry Cake showing how tender it is


 

You’ll love this decadent Lemon and Raspberry Cake

  • NOT TO TART, NOT TOO SWEET. It’s the adept balance of fresh, tangy sweetness that makes you want to lick the plate.
  • HOMEMADE RASPBERRY FILLING. Bright, sweet raspberry flavor – and lots of it.
  • SHORTCUT RASPBERRY FILLING. Use store-bought if needed.
  • SOFT, AIRY, CLOUD-LIKE CRUMB. Thanks to the reverse creaming method.
  • STURDY. Velvety, tender, and moist with structure to support the filling.
  • LEMON CREAM CHEESE FROSTING. Between each cake layer – no dry, orphaned cake here!

Lemon Raspberry Cake Ingredients 

The ingredient list for this Lemon Raspberry Cake recipe appears lengthy but most of the ingredients are pantry friendly staples and used multiple times in the cake, filling and/or frosting.  Here’s what you’ll need for each component (exact measurements in the printable recipe card at the bottom of the post):

For the Lemon cake

  • Lemon:  Use one fresh lemon because we also need the zest!
  • Lemon zest: This adds concentrated lemon flavor. Make sure not to get the white pith because it is extra bitter.
  • Raspberries: Use ripe, but not soft-ripe. I also pick up extra raspberries to garnish the top of the cake.
  • Cake flour:  This flour is almost 30x finer than all-purpose flour!  It has a lower protein content (8-9%) than all-purpose flour (10-13%) so it is finer, lighter, and softer which translates into meltingly tender cake layers that are lighter and softer, with a fine, close crumb.   You should be able to find cake flour in the baking aisle with the other flours, otherwise I’ve included an easy substitution below.
  • Butter: Unsalted is typically best for baked goods so you can add the precise amount of salt. If you only have salted butter, reduce the salt in the recipe.
  • Milk: Any kind of milk will work but 2% or whole make the moistest cake.
  • Sugar: Use granulated sugar to let the lemon really shine.
  • Eggs:  In baking, eggs should be at room temperature. If you forgot to put them on the counter, submerge them in a bowl of warm tap water for about 20 minutes before mixing into the batter. 
  • Baking powder: This leavening agent helps tenderize the cake and make it rise in the oven. Make sure it is fresh so it works!
  • Vanilla extract: All desserts need a little oomph of vanilla.  The better the quality, the better it tastes, so go as quality as you can.
showing how to decorate Raspberry Lemon Cake by adding raspberries to the border and center of the top of the cake

FOR THE Raspberry Filling

Making raspberry filling is straightforward with this recipe, or you can use store-bought jam.

  • Raspberries: Use fresh, very ripe raspberries or thawed frozen raspberries.  When purchasing frozen raspberries, take care they do NOT have any sugar added.
  • Sugar:  Granulated sugar please to sweeten the raspberries into jam.  
  • Lemon juice:  Fresh is best but you may use bottled. Lemon juice enhances the fresh berry flavor and balances the sugar.
  • Cornstarch:  Thickens the jam; without it, you need twice the sugar and reducing time! 
serving Lemon Raspberry Cake by slicing while it's chilled

FOR THE LEMON CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

  • Cream cheese:  Use full-fat brick-style cream cheese for best results.  Please do NOT use ⅓ less fat because it is much softer and will create a sliding cake.
  • Butter:  Use unsalted butter or salted and reduce or omit the salt.
  • Powdered sugar:  I recommend sifting the sugar before making the frosting if it’s been sitting for a bit.
  • Lemon juice and zest:  This is used instead of milk to cut through the sweetness of the powdered sugar and make it lemony!
  • Vanilla:  Use quality extract for the best flavor.

Lemon Raspberry Cake Variations

  • Different toppings: Add a dimension of flavor simply by lining the top of the cake with blueberries, raspberries or strawberries.  You can also decorate with white chocolate shavings.
  • Lemon Blueberry Cake:  Mix 1 ½ cups blueberries with one tablespoon flour to help the blueberries from sinking.  Fold floured blueberries into the cake batter at the very end of mixing. I try to use smaller blueberries as they seems to allow the batter to cook more evenly. See this recipe for exactly how I make it. 
  • Lemon Poppy Seed Cake:  Add ¼ cup poppy seeds with the dry ingredients.
  • Lemon Almond Cake: Gently fold ½ cup slivered almonds into the batter before baking.  Add optional 1 teaspoon almond extract.
up close of a bite of of Raspberry Lemon Cake showing the raspberry filling and tender cake

How to make Lemon Raspberry Cake

The key to success for making this Lemon Raspberry Cake is to give yourself time because the recipe benefits from chilling at multiple stages. 

Let’s take a closer look at how to make this recipe or watch the How to Make Video in the recipe card (full recipe measurements in the printable recipe card at the bottom of the post):

STEP 1:  MAKE THE CAKE BATTER

  • Combine the wet ingredients:  Whisk the eggs, milk, lemon juice, lemon zest, and vanilla extract together in a 3-cup (or more) liquid measuring cup.
  • Reverse creaming method:  Mix the cake flour, sugar, baking powder and salt on the lowest speed until combined, then add the butter one piece at at time. Increase the speed to medium and continue to beat until the mixture resembles coarse meal.
  • Add the wet ingredients:  Add approximately half of the egg mixture to the flour mixture, and beat until light and fluffy. Reduce speed and beat in remaining egg mixture.
  • Add raspberries. Gently fold in raspberries tossed with 1 tablespoon flour.
a collage showing how to make lemon raspberry cake recipe by 1) whisking wet ingredients together in a liquid measuring cup, 2) whisking dry ingredients together, 3) creaming butter and sugar, 4) beating in liquid measuring ingredients, 5) beating until fluffy
showing how to make Lemon Raspberry Cake my folding raspberries into the cake batter

STEP 2:  BAKE THE CAKES

  • Bake:  Divide the batter evenly between prepared cake pans (I use a kitchen scale), and bake until a few moist crumbs cling to a toothpick.
  • Cool.  Allow the cakes to cool in pans for 10 minutes then remove cakes to a wire rack and let cool completely.
showing how to make lemon raspberry  cake recipe by baking cake until tender

sTEP 3:  cut the cakes in half

  • Cut the cakes in half:  Slice the cakes horizontally through the equator using a long-serrated knife or cake leveler to create 4 even layers.
showing how to make Lemon Raspberry Cake recipe by slicing the cakes in half through the equator

sTEP 4:  MAKE THE Raspberry filling

  • Puree raspberries:  Add raspberries to a food processor and puree. Place a fine mesh sieve over a medium saucepan and add the raspberry puree to discard seeds.
  • Simmer to thicken  Whisk cornstarch, sugar and lemon juice into the puree until cornstarch is mostly dissolved. Bring to a simmer until thickened. Chill in the refrigerator to set.
a collage showing how to make Raspberry Lemon Cake recipe by adding raspberries to a food processor, pureeing until smooth, then simmering in a sauce pan with sugar and cornstarch

sTEP 5:  MAKE THE FROSTING

  • Beat the ingredients together:  Using a handheld mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter together until very creamy. Beat in lemon juice, vanilla extract and salt until smooth.
  • Add the powdered sugar:  Gradually beat in the powdered sugar then continue to beat until smooth and fluffy.
a collage showing how to make Lemon Raspberry Cake by making frosting with butter, cream cheese and powdered sugar

STEP 6:  ASSEMBLE THE CAKE

  • Layer 1 – Raspberry Filling:  Place one layer, cut side up, on a serving plate or cake pedestal.  Transfer some frosting to a piping bag. Pipe a ring of frosting just inside the top edge of the first cake then evenly fill with one third of the Raspberry Filling.
  • Layer 2 – Frosting:  Top with about 1 cup of frosting and spread to the edges.
  • Repeat Two Times: Top the frosting with the second cake layer, repeat the piping ring, raspberry filling and frosting. Top with third cake and repeat. Top with final cake.
  • Chill:  Time permitting, place the cake in the refrigerator for 2 hours (cover if refrigerating longer) or the freezer for 30 minutes for the frosting to chill and harden a bit. This interim step means there isn’t any chance of the top layer sliding around on slick warm frosting as you try to apply your crumb coat.
a collage showing how to make Lemon Raspberry Cake by layering with raspberry filling and lemon frosting and repeating 3 times

Step 7:  FROST CAKE

  • Crumb coat: To make a crumb coat, separate about ¾ cup frosting and frost the cake starting with the top and working down until the cake is evenly, thinly frosted. Chill the cake before frosting.
  • Frost cake: Frost the outside of cake as you desire with the remaining frosting.
showing how to make lemon raspberry cake by adding a crumb coat to the cake
showing how to make lemon raspberry cake by applying lemon frosting

STEP 8:  CHILL and Slice

  • Chill:  Freeze the cake for 30 minutes to firm up before slicing, or if not serving immediately, refrigerate until ready to slice. 
  • Slice:  Slice, then serve the cake at room temperature.

Tips for Making the Best Lemon Raspberry Cake

Follow these tips and tricks for a runaway, light and lemony, ultra-tender success!

  • Prep Ahead:  As with all recipes, carefully read through the entire recipe, and prepare any special ingredients, such as room temperature butter, eggs, lemon juice and milk. Allow plenty of time to make the cake.
  • Use room temperature ingredients: Room temperature ingredients help the emulsion be more successful between the butter, sugar and eggs, (so it’s difficult to overmix and over-activate the gluten) and whisk to a higher volume.
  • Room temperature eggs hack: Add warm (not hot) tap water to a bowl then add eggs (still in their shells) for at least 20 minutes. 
  • Don’t microwave your butter:   It is important that the butter be softened at room temperature and not microwaved because we want soft but not warm butter. Also, don’t forget to slice your butter before softening – it’s much easier this way!
  • Don’t pack the flour: Don’t scoop into the flour bag/container or else the flour will compress; packed flour yields denser, drier cakes. Rather, scoop the flour into a measuring cup and then level.
  • Beat the batter until fluffy:  Beat the flour with half of the egg mixture until fluffy in order to aerate the batter, otherwise your cakes won’t rise in the oven. 
  • Don’t overmix your cake batter:  At the opposite end of the spectrum, don’t overbeat once you add the second half of the egg mixture or you cake can be dense, tough and dry cake.
  • Divide the cakes evenly:  I use a kitchen scale to measure each pan and adjust as needed.  This will create even cakes with the most even layers.
  • Don’t peek at the cake: Don’t open the oven door before 25 minutes or your cake can bake unevenly and fall.
  • Let the cakes cool completely before slicing:  Time permitting, pop your cooled cakes in the freezer for 30 minutes to help them firm up. This makes slicing a breeze and makes them far less crumbly.
  • Thicken the raspberry filling: The raspberry jam should be thick but spreadable. If it’s too loose, the cake layers will slide. If it’s too thick after refrigerating, loosen by microwave for 10 seconds or so.
top view of Lemon raspberry cake showing how to decorate with raspberries
up close of a bite of of Raspberry Lemon Cake showing the raspberry filling and tender cake

Lemon Raspberry Cake Recipe FAQs

Why should you use room temperature ingredients in lemon raspberry cake?

You’ve heard it here many times, and no doubt in other recipes, so why use room temperature ingredients when baking a cake?  Is it that important?  The answer is YES!  It is essential that you use room temperature eggs, milk, lemon juice and butter for this recipe or your cake will not rise properly or be as tender. Here’s why:

1. Room temperature ingredients bind together more easily than if you had some cold and some warmer ingredients – you can literally feel the difference when mixing by hand. In other words, the batter is easier to NOT overmix and overwork the gluten, which creates more even lift and rise in the cake when baking.

2. Cold ingredients require longer to bind together so they are easy to overmix which over-develops the gluten making a denser cake.
Cold eggs and milk can break the emulsion of the sugar and butter, so the batter loses air cells, resulting in a baked cake that is grainy or flat in texture, dry or dense.

3. Cold ingredients also produce a thicker, colder batter which takes longer to bake which changes the entire structure and texture of the cake.

Can you use frozen raspberries in a cake?

Yes, you can use frozen raspberries in a lemon cake. Frozen raspberries can be a convenient option when fresh raspberries are not in season or readily available. Here’s a general guideline on how to incorporate frozen raspberries into a cake:

1. Thaw the Raspberries: Allow the frozen raspberries to thaw completely. You can do this by placing them in a colander or sieve and allowing them to sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes. Once thawed, gently blot them with a paper towel to remove any excess moisture.
2. Adjust for Moisture: Frozen raspberries tend to release more moisture when baked, so it’s a good idea to slightly adjust the moisture content of your cake batter. You can achieve this by reducing the amount of liquid (such as milk) in the cake recipe by about 1 tablespoon.
3. Adjust Baking Time: Since frozen raspberries can add extra moisture to the batter, it may slightly affect the baking time. Keep an eye on the cake as it bakes and use a toothpick or cake tester to check for doneness. If needed, bake the cake for a few minutes longer than the original recipe suggests.

How do you increase the flavor of lemon in a cake?

To increase the lemon flavor of a cake, without altering the texture, add additional lemon zest or lemon extract. Don’t add additional lemon juice as excess moisture will affect the texture. For this Raspberry Lemon Cake, I caution against increasing the lemon flavoring because it will overpower the raspberries.

How do you increase the flavor of lemon in a cake?

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up close of a bite of of Raspberry Lemon Cake showing the raspberry filling and tender cake

Lemon and Raspberry Cake

This Lemon Raspberry Cake recipe is a show stopping dessert everyone will be raving about, based off my popular Lemon Blueberry Cake!  Learn how to make it 100% ahead of time or in stages with step-by-step photos, a full video tutorial, and plenty of helpful tips. With its bright, fresh, tangy lemon flavor, mega moistness (thanks to the reverse creaming method), layers of raspberry filling (homemade or store-bought) and lemon cream cheese frosting, this Raspberry and Lemon Cake is truly ethereal and worth every second of making!
Servings: 10 -12 servings
Total Time: 4 hours 35 minutes
Prep Time: 4 hours
Cook Time: 35 minutes

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Ingredients

CAKE

  • 9 oz. (approx. 1 ½ cups) raspberries + 1 tablespoon flour
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup milk (anything but nonfat) room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups cake flour (see DIY in Notes)
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 16 tablespoons unsalted butter cut into 16 pieces, room temperature

RASPBERRY JAM FILLING

  • 16 ounces ripe fresh raspberries or frozen thawed raspberries
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice

LEMON CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

  • 16 oz. full-fat brick style cream cheese, room temperature (DON'T microwave)
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature (DON'T microwave)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1-2 tablespoons fresh lemon zest (depending on how tangy you like it)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
  • 6 cups powdered sugar

Instructions

RASPBERRY JAM FILLING (SEE NOTES FOR STORE-BOUGHT)

  • Make the raspberry filling first if trying to assemble the cake more quickly so it has time to chill. Otherwise, make it while the cake is baking to multitask.
  • Puree raspberries: Add 16 ounces raspberries to a food processor and puree. Place a fine mesh sieve over a medium saucepan and add the raspberry puree to discard seeds. Press down on the puree with the back of a spoon or spatula, until only seeds remain in the sieve. Take care to wipe the back of your sieve to get all of the puree.
  • Thicken: Whisk the cornstarch, sugar and lemon juice into the puree until cornstarch is mostly dissolved. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, then reduce heat to medium (medium-low if your stove runs hot) and continue to cook and stir continuously until puree is thickened. It should be thick but spreadable so the cake layers don't slide around.
  • Chill: Refrigerate until completely chilled (it will thicken more as it chills).

CAKE

  • Prep: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line the bottom of two 8-inch round cake pans with parchment paper (or I love these silicone mats). Spray with nonstick cooking spray WITH flour or butter and flour the pans.
  • Coat raspberries: Add 9 oz. raspberries to a medium bowl and toss with 1 tablespoon flour. Set aside.
  • Mix wet ingredients: Whisk the eggs, milk, lemon juice, lemon zest, and vanilla extract together in a 3-cup (or more) liquid measuring cup. Set aside.
  • Mix dry ingredients: Using a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, mix the cake flour, sugar, baking powder and salt on the lowest speed until combined, about 20 seconds.
  • Add butter: With the mixer still running at the lowest speed, add 1 piece of butter at a time and continue to beat until all the butter is added. Increase speed to medium and continue to beat until the mixture resembles coarse meal, with butter bits no larger than small peas.
  • Add wet ingredients: With the mixer running on low, add approximately half of the egg mixture to the flour mixture. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, approximately 60 seconds. Reduce speed to medium-low and add remaining egg mixture and beat until incorporated, about 30 seconds (batter may look slightly curdled.) DO NOT OVERMIX.
  • Add raspberries. Stir in the 9 ounces coated raspberries just until evenly combined.
  • Bake: Divide the batter evenly between the prepared cake pans (I use a kitchen scale), smooth with a spatula and drop a few times on the counter to remove air bubbles. Bake at 350 degrees F for 27-32 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes comes with just a few crumbs.
  • Cool: Cool cakes in the pans for 10 minutes, then remove cakes from pans and transfer to wire racks to cool completely.
  • Freeze (optional): Time permitting, after cooling, freeze the cakes for 30-60 minutes to make them easier to slice in half. (Make ahead: Alternatively, tightly wrap the cooled cakes in plastic wrap at this point and refrigerate until ready to slice and frost.)

FROSTING

  • Combine ingredients: Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and butter together at medium speed until very creamy. Beat in lemon juice, lemon zest, vanilla extract and salt until smooth.
  • Add powdered sugar: Gradually beat in powdered sugar, then continue to beat at medium-high speed until smooth and fluffy.
    If the frosting is too runny, refrigerate until more set. Alternatively, add additional powdered sugar until it reaches desired consistency, then flavor with pinches of salt to taste, otherwise it will be too sweet.  If the frosting is too thick, thin with milk, 1 tablespoon at a time.

ASSEMBLE

  • Prepare stand: Place four strips of parchment paper around the edges of a plate or cake stand to create a square with an open space in the middle (to keep cake stand clean).
  • Slice cakes: Cut cakes in half horizontally using a long-serrated knife or cake leveler to create 4 even layers. Place 1 cake layer, cut side up, on the prepared serving plate/cake stand.
  • First Cake: Transfer some frosting to a piping bag (or Ziploc bag). Pipe a ring of frosting just inside the top edge of cake. Add ⅓ of the chilled Raspberry Jam and spread it to the edges of the piped frosting. (Note: If raspberry jam is too thick, microwave it for just a few seconds.) Add about ¾ cup frosting and spread to the edges of the cake.
  • Second Cake: Top with the second leveled cake, top side down. Repeat procedure with piping/raspberry filling/frosting.
  • Third and Fourth Cake: Top with third cake and repeat procedure with piping/raspberry filling/frosting. Add final cake, most even side up (usually you add the top side down, but the raspberries can make it uneven).
  • Freeze (optional): Time permitting, place the cake in the freezer for 15-30 minutes for the frosting to chill and harden a bit. This step prevents the top layer from sliding around on slick warm frosting as you try to apply your crumb coat. (Make Ahead: Alternatively, cover the cake with plastic wrap and refrigerate until you're ready to continue.)

FROST CAKE

  • Crumb coat: Separate about ¾ cup frosting to use as the “crumb coat.” Frost the cake starting with the top and working down until the cake is evenly, thinly frosted. Freeze the cake for 15-30 minutes or until the crumb layer has set.
  • Frost cake: Frost the outside of cake as you desire with the remaining frosting. Remove parchment paper then pipe a ring of frosting around the bottom of the cake. Garnish with raspberries if desired.

CHILL THEN SLICE

  • Chill: Freeze the cake for 20-30 minutes to firm up before slicing, or if not serving immediately, refrigerate for at least 45 minutes, before slicing.
  • Serve at room temperature: After slicing, let come to room temperature before serving.

STORE

  • The frosted cake should be covered with an inverted bowl or cake cover and refrigerated. Slice while chilled, but bring cake to room temperature before serving.

Video

Notes

Ingredient Notes

  • Cake flour substitute:  Sift 1 ¾ cup all-purpose flour and ¼ cup cornstarch together in a large bowl. Repeat sifting 2-3 times more to aerate the mixture so it’s closer to the consistency of real cake flour.
  • Store-bought raspberry jam: You’ll need about 1 ⅓ cups seedless raspberry jam. If your store-bought jam is too difficult to spread, microwave it for 10 seconds
  • Raspberry filling consistency:  The raspberry filling should be chick and barely spreadable so that it stays in place and doesn’t run over the edges, otherwise, you’ll have cake layers sliding all over the place!  If the jam thickens too much, microwave it for 10 seconds.

Prep Ahead

  • Raspberry Filling: can be made and refrigerated up to 1 week in advance or frozen for up to three months.
  • Frosting: can be made up to 24 hours, covered and refrigerated.  Let it come close to room temperature before re-whipping if needed.
  • Cakes: make, cool, and wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate one day in advance or freeze for up to 3 months.
  • Crumb Coated Cake:  let the crumb coat set completely, then tightly wrap the cake in plastic wrap and refrigerate or freeze until ready to finish frosting.
  • Frosted Cake:  Assemble the entire cake, cover with a cake cover or tent with foil then refrigerate for 24 hours before slicing, then allowing to sit at room temperature before serving. 

HOW TO STORE AND FREEZE

  • To store: The assembled and frosted cake should be covered with a cake cover or foil and refrigerated. It may be stored for up to 5 days, but is at peak freshness the first two days. Slice the cake, then bring to room temperature before serving.
  • To freeze individual cake layers: Tightly wrap the individual cake layers in plastic wrap and freeze for up to three months.
  • To freeze crumb coated cake:  Tightly wrap the set cake in a couple layers of plastic wrap followed by a couple layers of foil, freeze for up to two months.
  • To freeze frosted cake: Flash freeze the cake until solid, then tightly wrap in a couple layers of plastic wrap followed by a couple layers of foil, freeze for up to two months.  Remove the plastic wrap, transfer to a cake container and allow to thaw overnight in the refrigerator before slicing.  After slicing, let come to room temperature before serving.

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8 Comments

    • Jen says

      Thank you, I’m excited for you to try it!

  1. Morgan says

    This cake is delicious and so rich! I made it for a birthday party and everyone loved it. Thank you for all your delicious and thoughtful recipes. One of my favorite things is when I see a new recipe posted on your blog!

    • Jen says

      Thank you so much, Morgan, comments like yours make my day! I am so happy this cake was a winner and that you are enjoying my recipes! I hope you have a wonderful week and find more recipes to enjoy!

  2. Brenda says

    I love all of your recipes. I am baking the Lemon and Raspberry Cake now. I can’t wait to finish making it. The recipe is missing the step to add in the raspberries to the cake. I think it needs that step between step 6 and 7.

    • Jen says

      Just fixed! I appreciate you pointing that out!

  3. Cynthia Angel says

    Hello!
    I am a Lil confused.. Under ‘Tools Needed’ It calls for Two 9″ Pans.. However.. Under Cake Instructions.. It calls for Two 8″ Cake Pans.

    Please Clarify.

    Thank You!

    • Jen says

      Sorry Cynthia, I have an assistant adding the “tools needed.” The recipe is correct with the 8-inch round pans. I’ll correct the tools section. Thanks for pointing that out!