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Lemon Raspberry Cake

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!

Lemon raspberry cake on a serving stand with fresh raspberries

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.

The cake is the same used in my original lemon cake recipe and I've also shared the lemon cream cheese frosting before too - though I did make a few slight changes for this recipe.

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!

A glass bowl of fresh raspberries

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.
  • Salt
  • 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.

Lemon frosting in a mixing dish

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.

Two lemon cakes with lemon frosting between them

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.

A slice of lemon raspberry cake on a plate in front of the lemon raspberry cake

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!
Lemon raspberry cake with a slice cut out

Serving Suggestions

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.

A slice of lemon raspberry cake on a plate

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.

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A slice of lemon raspberry cake on a plate in front of the lemon raspberry cake

Lemon Raspberry Cake

Yield: 12 servings
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes

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!

Ingredients

For the Raspberry Filling

  • 3 cups (454 g) fresh or frozen raspberries, thawed
  • 1 ½ cups (300 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

For The Cake

  • 2 cups (400 g) granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon zest
  • ½ cup (120 ml) canola oil, or vegetable oil
  • ½ cup (113 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups (360 g) cake flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (240 g) buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • ½ cup (75 g) fresh raspberries, optional

For the frosting

  • 1 cup (227 g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 8 ounces (226 g) cream cheese, softened
  • 4-5 cups (480-600 g) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • Fresh raspberries, for garnish, optional

Instructions

Make the Raspberry Jam

  1. Process raspberries in a food processor until smooth. Press the puree through a fine-mesh sieve set over a medium saucepan and discard the seeds. You should have about 1 ½ cups (320 g) of seedless puree.
  2. Add the sugar and lemon juice to the puree. Heat over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has completely dissolved.
  3. Once the sugar has completely dissolved, turn the heat up to medium and bring the mixture to a rolling boil. Let boil for 5 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat and drizzle a little jam onto a saucer and place in the fridge for 1 minute.
  5. Run a finger through the cooled jam drizzle and if it forms a crinkle (tacky) then the jam is ready, if not continue to boil for another minute at a time and re-test until it is ready.
  6. Once the jam is ready, place it in a small bowl and allow it to cool completely before using


Make the Cake

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease the inside bottom and sides of two 9-inch round pans. Line the bottom of the pans with parchment paper cut to fit. Lightly grease the parchment paper. Dust the inside bottom and sides of the pan with flour, then tap out any excess. Wrap the pans in wet bake even strips. Set aside.
  2. Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment or a handheld electric mixer, beat the sugar and lemon zest together on medium speed for at least 5 minutes. This helps extract the oils from the zest resulting in more lemon flavor.
  3. Add the oil and butter and mix on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing for 20 seconds after each addition. Beat in the vanilla.
  4. Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Stir with a whisk and add half to the butter mixture. Beat on low speed until the flour is almost fully incorporated.
  5. Mix in the buttermilk and lemon juice, followed by the remaining flour mixture, and beat on low until just combined. Take care not to over mix.
  6. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans, using an offset spatula to level the batter. Drop spoonfuls of the cooled jam evenly over the top. (You do not need to use all of the jam.) Use a butter knife to swirl the jam into the filling. Press the fresh raspberries evenly into the cake batter if desired.
  7. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center, comes out with only a few moist crumbs attached.
  8. Cool in the pans for 10 minutes then transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool completely before frosting.

Make the Frosting

  1. In a large bowl using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment or a handheld electric mixer, beat the butter and cream cheese on medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes.
  2. Gradually beat in the sugar, followed by the lemon juice and salt. Beat on low speed until just incorporated then turn the mixer to high speed and beat for 2 minutes.

Assemble the Cake

  1. Place one cake layer onto a serving platter. Spread a generous amount of frosting evenly over the cake.
  2. Top with the second cake layer. Then, cover the top and sides of the cake with frosting. Immediately refrigerate the cake until firm, about 1 hour.
  3. Decorate with raspberries just before serving.



Notes

Raspberry jam: 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.

Frosting: This cake also pairs well with my raspberry frosting.

Make ahead tip

  1. Wrap baked and cooled cake layers tightly in plastic wrap and store them in the refrigerator. Assemble and frost the cake within 2 days.
  2. Or layers can be triple wrapped in plastic wrap and frozen for up to 2 weeks. Leave wrapped and set on the counter to thaw slightly before use.
  3. Once the cake has been assembled, cover it and keep it stored in the refrigerator for up to three days. Bring it to room temperature just before serving.
  4. The frosted cake can be frozen for up to 2 months. Thaw it overnight in the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature just before serving.
  5. Leftover jam can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Recommended Products

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1 slice
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 288Total Fat: 12gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 84mgSodium: 390mgCarbohydrates: 36gFiber: 5gSugar: 6gProtein: 10g

The nutrition information provided is for convenience and as a courtesy only. It is not guaranteed to be accurate because nutrition information can vary for a variety of reasons. For precise nutritional data use your preferred nutrition calculator and input the exact ingredients you used in the recipe.

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Eric

Monday 6th of September 2021

In step 1 of the instructions for making the cake, near the end it indicates to wrap the pan with wet bake even strips. I’ve never heard of those. Can you describe what that is? Thanks.

Jen Sobjack

Tuesday 7th of September 2021

I've linked to them at the bottom of the recipe. They are strips that you dampen then wrap around the cake pan. This helps with even baking. I talk about it here in my how to make the perfect cake post.

H. Harris

Friday 10th of January 2020

Haven't tried this yet, but will be shortly and had a question. Can this be converted to a strawberry lemon cake by substituting strawberries for raspberries? Would the strawberry and strawberry extract measurements be the same as the raspberry?

Jen Sobjack

Friday 10th of January 2020

Honestly, I've never attempted this cake with strawberries instead of raspberries. I'm not really sure if you'd need more or fewer strawberries to make it successful.

Ivy

Thursday 19th of December 2019

Hi Jen,

I love this recipe. I've made it a few times and the cake is so tasty and tender! I was wondering if it would be possible to convert this into a vanilla cake recipe by omitting the lemon juice and substituting the milk with buttermilk?

Thank you, Ivy

Jen Sobjack

Thursday 19th of December 2019

I haven't tried converting this cake into anything else. But I do have a vanilla cake recipe you can try.

becky lopez

Thursday 8th of August 2019

great cake ! used a different frosting. only question — do I sift the cake flour and then measure 3 cups or measure then sift?

Jen Sobjack

Thursday 8th of August 2019

Sift after you measure. When you see "four, sifted", it means to sift after the flour is measured. When you see "sifted flour", it means to sift before the flour is measured.

Nancy

Thursday 2nd of August 2018

I've been looking for a new lemon raspberry cake recipe. I'm looking forward to trying this one!

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