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
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
FOR THE Raspberry Filling
Making raspberry filling is straightforward with this recipe, or you can use store-bought jam.
FOR THE LEMON CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
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
STEP 2: BAKE THE CAKES
sTEP 3: cut the cakes in half
sTEP 4: MAKE THE Raspberry filling
sTEP 5: MAKE THE FROSTING
STEP 6: ASSEMBLE THE CAKE
Step 7: FROST CAKE
STEP 8: CHILL and Slice
Lemon Raspberry Cake Recipe FAQs
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.
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.
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.
Tools Used in This Recipe
Lemon and Raspberry Cake
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- 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
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
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).
- 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.)
- 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.
- 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.)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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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