Layers of lemon cake with raspberry jam swirl make the base for this Lemon Raspberry Cake and it's all finished with a zesty lemon cream cheese frosting. The perfect balance of sweet and tart, this cake is always a hit!
An Easy Lemon Layer Cake
Lemon raspberry is one of my favorite flavor combinations and, after sharing my lemon raspberry crescent rolls, I think it's become a reader favorite too. This Lemon Raspberry Cake was actually requested by a reader after I shared the crescent rolls and I was happy to oblige.
This cake alternates layers of a lemon raspberry swirl cake and lemon cream cheese frosting. Each bite feels truly decadent, with zesty lemon and tart raspberry flavors in each bite.
Instead of just adding some fresh raspberries to the lemon cake, I chose to go a step further and create a simple raspberry jam filling. It's only 3 ingredients and easy to make but adds a sweetness to the lemon cake that fresh raspberries would not.
All I can say is that when you combine the raspberry jam, lemon cake, and lemon frosting...well, you get a cake that everyone will want the recipe for!
What You'll Need
Don't be intimidated by this ingredient list! Each part of the recipe - the raspberry jam, lemon cake, and lemon frosting - is made from scratch. But, many of the ingredients, like lemon and raspberry, appear on all 3 ingredient lists!
- Raspberries - Fresh raspberries or frozen raspberries both work in this recipe. Frozen raspberries should be thawed first.
- Sugar - Helps to balance the tart raspberry and lemon flavors.
- Lemon juice - Fresh lemon is better for all aspects of this recipe!
- Lemon zest - Adds that lemon zing throughout the cake.
- Canola oil - You can also use vegetable oil.
- Butter - I prefer unsalted butter to control the salt level of the recipe. Bring it to room temperature but don't soften it.
- Eggs - Eggs should also be at room temperature.
- Vanilla extract - A splash for flavor.
- Cake flour - Cake flour creates a much softer texture than regular flour, so I don't recommend substituting it with all-purpose flour.
- Baking powder - The leavening agent that helps the cake rise.
- Buttermilk - The flavor of buttermilk not only complements the lemon flavor but helps keep the cake nice and soft.
- Cream cheese - Softened cream cheese will help prevent any lumps in the frosting.
- Confectioners' sugar - Sift the confectioners' sugar before adding to the frosting to make sure there's no clumps.
How to Make Lemon Raspberry Cake
There are several steps to making this lemon raspberry cake, as every level of the cake is made from scratch. While it may not be the fastest cake to make, each step is pretty straightforward and requires no special skills or equipment!
Make the Raspberry Filling
Make the raspberry puree. Process the raspberries in a food processor then press through a fine-mesh sieve to remove the seeds.
Cook the jam. Add the sugar and lemon juice to the puree. Heat until the sugar has dissolved. Then bring to a boil for 5 minutes.
Check to see if it's ready. Remove the jam from heat and drizzle a little into a sauce. Refrigerate for a minute, then run a finger through it. If it forms a crinkle, then it's ready. If not, boil for an additional minute.
Cool. Allow the jam to cool completely before adding to the cake batter.
Make the Cake
Preheat the oven and prepare pans. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease the bottoms and sides of the pans, then line the bottom with parchment paper. Grease the parchment paper and dust the pan with flour. Wrap the pans in wet bake even strips.
Mix the ingredients. Beat the lemon zest and sugar on medium for at least 5 minutes. Mix in the oil and butter until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, followed by the vanilla.
Add the dry ingredients. Combine the dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Add half to the butter mixture, then mix in the buttermilk and lemon juice. Add the remaining dry ingredients. Mix to combine.
Bake. Divide the batter between two pans. Drop spoonfuls of the jam evenly over the top and use a knife to swirl. Press fresh raspberries evenly into the cake batter. Bake for 25-30 minutes.
Cool. Cool in the pans for 10 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Make the Frosting
Beat the butter and cream cheese. Beat the butter and cream cheese on medium until smooth and creamy.
Incorporate other ingredients. Add the remaining ingredients. Beat on low to incorporate then turn to high speed for 2 minutes.
Assemble the Cake
Assemble the first layer. Place one cake layer on a serving platter. Pipe frosting around the outer edge. Spread remaining lemon filling inside in an even layer.
Add the second layer. Top with the second layer, then cover the top and sides with frosting. Refrigerate before serving. Add raspberries just before serving.
Tips for Success
After trying different variations of this lemon raspberry cake, I'm confident in saying I've uncovered the secrets to the most tender, moist, and flavorful lemon raspberry swirl cake.
- Make your own cake flour. This recipe calls for cake flour. If you don't have any on hand, you can make homemade cake flour with all-purpose flour and cornstarch.
- Don't overbake the cakes. Oven temperatures can vary. Start checking for doneness about 5 minutes sooner than the recipe calls for.
- Use fresh raspberries in a pinch. I love the way the jam leaves swirls marks through the cake batter. And it tastes sweeter than fresh raspberries. If you don’t want to make the jam, you can still enjoy this cake by gently folding 1 ½ cups fresh raspberries into the batter. Keep in mind the berries will sink since the batter isn’t thick enough to support them.
- Swap the frosting for raspberry frosting. If you'd like more raspberry flavor in your cake, you can easily swap the lemon frosting for my raspberry frosting. Both options taste great!
Serve this lemon raspberry swirl cake chilled or at room temperature. I like to garnish with some additional fresh raspberries! Since it's a layer cake, you can cut the slices a little thinner than a regular cake too!
How to Store Leftovers
This lemon raspberry cake can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days. Just keep it tightly wrapped and bring it to room temperature for serving.
If you want to make the cake in advance, you can prepare the cake layers and keep them tightly wrapped in the fridge for 2 days before adding the frosting and assembling the cake.
Can I Freeze This?
Yes, you can freeze either the individual cake layers or the full frosted cake. Layers can be frozen for up to 2 weeks before assembling, just allow them to thaw completely in the fridge.
The frosted lemon cake will last in the freezer for up 2 months.