Spring baking makes my heart happy, and this Lemon Raspberry Cake has got my heart! It’s beautiful and delicious, and filled with fresh lemon and raspberry flavors. If you’re into spring baking, definitely give this lemon raspberry cake a try!
The three cake layers are made with a light and moist lemon cake filled with fresh raspberries. It’s assembled with an easy lemon buttercream that comes together in a matter of minutes!
I decorated my cake with more fresh raspberries on top and vibrant lemon zest. It’s the perfect weekend baking recipe. You’ll love it!
One of my favorite things about spring is spring baking. I love baking with fresh fruits and vibrant flavors, especially lemon and raspberries. This gorgeous Lemon Raspberry Cake is the definition of spring!
The lemon raspberry cake is made with moist lemon cake layers filled with fresh raspberries, and decorated with an easy and delicious lemon buttercream. To make it even prettier, I decorate it with lots and lots of raspberries and lemon zest.
Lemon and raspberries are a match made in heaven. They go so well together in everything: cakes, cupcakes, cookies, cheesecake…everything!
If you’re looking for weekend baking ideas, this lemon raspberry layer cake is a MUST TRY!
A Perfect Spring Treat
When I think of spring baking, I think of lemons, limes, zest, berries, lavender, and lots of bright colors and flavors. These are some of my favorite ingredients that build a great spring sweets flavor profile.
When it comes to making bright spring desserts, the key is to use fresh ingredients. So, for this lemon raspberry layer cake recipe, make sure you use freshly squeezed lemon juice and fresh raspberries.
I usually find whatever is in season, and mix and match flavors! Some of my other favorite combinations are:
- Lemons and blueberries
- Lemons and lavender
- Limes and blackberries
- Strawberries and custard
If you’re baking a cake, you also want to make sure you frost it with a bright buttercream or something similar. That’s why I went with a lemon buttercream frosting rather than a plain vanilla frosting.
Spring baking is all about building bright flavors using fresh ingredients!
The Lemon Raspberry Cake Layers
Okay, let’s now go into all you need to know to bake and assemble this delicious lemon raspberry cake!
It all starts with baking the cake layers. They need to be light, moist, and fluffy.
I tested this cake recipe many, many times. Basically, what I found was that baking the cake layers with vegetable oil resulted in a more even and light crumb. The cake turns out moist, light, and fluffy when baking with oil rather than butter. On the other hand, the test cake I made with butter turned out very dense after being stored in the fridge.
Here’s the thing: baking cakes with lemon (an acid), can create a dense texture due to the way acid reacts with baking soda and baking powder.
Usually, adding more baking soda will counteract this, but adding baking soda can often 1) leave a weird taste, and 2) cause it to rise too quickly at first and then collapse in the middle.
That’s why I prefer to bake this cake with oil instead. More info below!
Baking with Oil vs. Butter
Here’s where I basically make a case for baking lemon cakes with vegetable oil rather than butter.
Will my cake be less tasty if I use oil rather than butter? No. Generally, butter does make cakes taste better. However, for cakes that have other flavors, such as lemon, you won’t really be able to taste the butter that much. It’s the amazing lemon flavor that you’ll taste more than anything.
Will my cake be light and fluffy? Yes! Oil is 100% fat. Butter is fat plus milk solids and water. You’ll notice that butter is also heavier than oil. This means that cakes baked with oil will turn out light and fluffy, and not dense or heavy.
Will my cake stay moist and fluffy even after a few days? Yes, absolutely! Butter solidifies in the fridge, so a cake made with butter will firm up and become dense and heavy. Oil doesn’t solidify in the fridge, meaning that the cake will stay moist and light even after a few days!
Is it easier to make the batter with oil? Oh yes! When making the batter with oil, you just need to mix it with the rest of the wet ingredients. On the other hand, if you use butter, you’ll need to cream it with the sugar using a mixer and all that.
Now, this does not mean that all cakes should be baked with oil. Some cakes that use butter turn out wonderful! My gingerbread layer cake is made with butter and it isn’t dense. It’s more about what types of cakes turn out better with oil, and lemon layer cakes are one of them.
The Lemon Buttercream Frosting
The lemon buttercream frosting is so easy to make. You only need a few ingredients, and the amount of lemon flavor can be adjusted to taste.
It comes out so light, fluffy, and creamy!
How Much Buttercream Do I Need?
For a 3-layer 9-inch cake, you need about 4 cups of frosting or so.
That’s a lot of confectioner’s sugar, so don’t be alarmed. That’s just how it is. And definitely share this raspberry lemon cake with others. Too much sugar for one person can’t be good, right?
You’ll need about 9 cups of confectioner’s sugar, and 2.25 cups of unsalted butter.
It’s also got freshly squeezed lemon juice and heavy cream. You can adjust the quantity of lemon juice to taste. The heavy cream adds moisture to the frosting and loosens it up, so it’s light and fluffy!
Tips for Assembling a Cake
Assembling a cake does take some practice. You should see some of my amateur cake decorations from years ago (uhm, yeah, not that great!). But after practicing a few times, I think I’ve got the hang of it. I’m still not the greatest cake decorator, but practice does help!
Tips and tricks also help! Here’s what I’d recommend:
- Let the cakes cool COMPLETELY: If the cakes feel warm, even if a tad bit, don’t even think about assembling the cake. The frosting will melt and create a mess.
- Make sure you have enough frosting: For a three-layer 9-inch cake, you’ll need about 4 cups of frosting. Make sure you have enough frosting prepared before you start decorating.
- Use the right tools: You’ll definitely need an offset spatula to spread the buttercream frosting over the cake layers. To even out the sides, use a bench scraper. To keep things clean, use parchment paper. I’d also recommend using a cake stand.
- Keep it clean: Before you start, overlap 4 strips of parchment over the cake stand, on the edges, and place your first cake layer on top. Once you’re done frosting the cake, simply pull out the parchment paper and you’ll have a clean cake stand.
Ideas for Decorating the Cake
Now, onto the most exciting part: decorating the cake!
I decorated my lemon raspberry layer cake with more raspberries on top and some lemon zest. It’s a rustic style cake.
Other ideas for decorating the lemon raspberry cake:
- Pipe swirls or rosettes on top, around the edges. You’ll need piping tips and a piping bag to do this.
- Arrange the raspberries around the edges on top.
- Stick a few raspberries at the bottom, around the edges.
- Add come green color by garnishing with fresh mint leaves.
- Just dump a pile of raspberries top on!
Basically, you can decorate it however you want. The possibilities are endless!
This lemon raspberry cake is the perfect spring cake! Bright flavors and colors all around.
I love the combination of lemon and raspberries. They are like a match made in heaven.
It can be made ahead and stored in the fridge for up to 5 days. Many of the components can also be prepared ahead, such as the cake layers and the frosting, to make assembly and decorating a breeze.
You’ll love how delicious and beautiful this cake is. And don’t forget to share a slice – you’ll want to show off your beautiful cake! Happy baking!
Here’s more spring baking inspiration:
- Lemon Blueberry Bread
- Carrot Cake Cupcakes
- Strawberry Bread
- Key Lime Pie
- Easy Lemon Bars
- Strawberry Lemonade Cupcakes
Tips for Success
- Baking lemon cakes with vegetable oil rather than butter results in a light and fluffy crumb. Lemon cakes tend to get dense and heavy due to the way acid reacts with baking soda or baking powder. Using oil helps to keep the cake light, moist, and fluffy.
- Wait until the cake layers have cooled completely before assembling.
- The cake can be made ahead. Instructions below.
- Use the right tools to decorate the cake easily, such as an offset spatula and a bench scraper.
- More tips under recipe notes below!
Lemon Raspberry Cake
- Three 9-inch round cake pans (non-stick)
- Parchment paper
- Offset spatula
- Bench scraper
- Other: whisks, rubber spatula, mixing bowls
- 3 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
- 1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup buttermilk
- Lemon zest from 2 large lemons
- ⅓ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 ¾ cups fresh raspberries
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour (for the raspberries)
Lemon Buttercream Frosting
- 2 ¼ cups unsalted butter, softened at room temperature (4.5 standard butter sticks)
- 9 cups confectioner's sugar
- 4 to 6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (plus more to taste)
- 4 to 6 tablespoons heavy cream (plus more as needed)
- A pinch of salt
- Fresh raspberries
- Lemon zest
Bake the cake layers
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Grease three 9-inch round non-stick cake pans with butter. Line the bottom of each pan with a round piece of parchment paper. Set aside.
- Whisk the dry ingredients: In a bowl, whisk the sifted flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
- Combine the wet ingredients: In a large bowl, whisk the vegetable oil, sugar, eggs, buttermilk, vanilla extract, lemon juice, and lemon zest until evenly combined.
- Using a rubber spatula, fold in the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until combined and no pockets of flour remain. It should be evenly combined but not over-mixed.
- In a another bowl, toss the raspberries with 1 tablespoon of all-purpose flour. Fold it into the batter until just combined. Be careful not to break the raspberries, they are very delicate.
- Divide the batter evenly across the 3 prepared cake pans. Bake for 21 to 23 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Tip: Opening and closing the oven too much can cause the center of the cakes to sink. Just let it bake until time is up.
- Let them cool in the pan completely for a few hours (usually, about 3 to 4 hours). Optional make-ahead: After they have cooled completely, remove them from the pan and wrap each one with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 1 day so you can assemble it the next day.
Make the lemon buttercream frosting
- Once the cakes have cooled down COMPLETELY, make the lemon buttercream frosting: Using an electric mixer or stand mixer (whisk attachment), beat the softened butter on medium-high speed for about 2 minutes until light and creamy.
- Add the confectioners sugar, mixing on low speed. After the sugar is incorporated, add 4 tablespoons of the lemon juice, 4 tablespoons of heavy cream, and a pinch of salt. Increase to medium-high speed and mix for about 3 minutes, adding more lemon juice (adds more flavor) and heavy cream (helps make it creamier and fluffier) to taste and as needed, until light, creamy and smooth.
Assemble and Decorate
- In the center of a cake stand, put a dollop of the frosting to help the cake stay in place. Place one of the cake layers on top. Tip: Before you start, overlap 4 strips of parchment over the cake stand, on the edges, and place your first cake layer on top. Once you're done frosting the cake, simply pull out the parchment paper and you'll have a clean cake stand.
- With an offset spatula, spread the frosting over that first cake layer, about ⅓ inch thick. Then, cover with the next cake layer, gently pressing down a little bit. Spread another layer of frosting. Then, place the third cake layer on top.
- Frost the top and then the sides of the cake evenly, using the offset spatula. Run an offset spatula or a bench scraper around the sides, rotating the cake stand as you go. Even out the top with the offset spatula as needed.
- Decorate the top with fresh raspberries and lemon zest. Slice, serve, and enjoy!
- Special equipment: three 9-inch round cake pans (non-stick), parchment paper, offset spatula, bench scraper, cake stand, rubber spatula.
- Oil vs. butter: Lemon cakes can turn out dense due to the way acid interacts with the leaveners. Using oil rather than butter creates a lighter crumb and texture. You’ll get moist, light, and fluffy cake layers. And don’t worry about not having that “buttery” taste – in lemon cakes, you can’t really notice the butter flavors anyway since the lemon is more dominant. More details within the post, under “Baking with Oil vs. Butter.”
- Try not to open the oven until the baking time is up. Opening and closing the oven too early can cause the center of the cakes to sink.
- Cake layers: Only frost the cake after it has completely cooled down.
- Or make the cake layers in advance let the cakes cool down completely, wrap with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight.
- 9 cups of confectioner’s sugar?! Yes, that’s how much you’ll need for a 3 layer 9-inch cake. Makes about 4 cups of frosting. Make sure you share this cake with others!
- The lemon buttercream frosting: The buttercream frosting can be made up to 5 days in advance. When ready to use, let it come to room temperature so it’s not so stiff. Then, loosen it up by whipping it a few more times on medium-high speed, adding some extra heavy cream if too stiff.
- Why toss the raspberries with flour: to prevent them from sinking to the bottom.
- Storing: Store in the fridge, covered in a cake container, for up to 5 days.