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Lemon Raspberry Cake

Lemon Cake with Raspberry Cream Cheese Filling

Servings 16 slices


Lemon Cake Ingredients

  • 3 cups (342g) cake flour
  • tsp (7g) baking powder
  • ½ tsp (2.5g) salt
  • 2 sticks (227g) unsalted butter, softened
  • cups (350g) granulated sugar
  • 4 large (220g) eggs
  • 2 tsp (5.3g) finely grated lemon zest
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) strained, freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • cup (160 ml) whole milk

Raspberry Sauce Ingredients

  • 14 oz (680g) raspberries, frozen with no sugar added (see note 4 below)
  • 2 tsp (10g) strained, freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • cup (132g) granulated sugar (see note 5 below)

Raspberry Cream Cheese Filling Ingredients

  • ¾ cup (180 ml) heavy cream
  • 4 oz (113g) cream cheese, softened
  • ½ tsp (2.1g) vanilla extract
  • ½ cup (107g) raspberry sauce (from the recipe below)

Italian Meringue Buttercream Ingredients

  • ½ cup + 2 Tbsp (150g) egg whites
  • cup (300g) granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup + 1½ Tbsp (66g) granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup + 3 Tbsp (84g) water
  • 16 oz (454g) unsalted butter, cut into ½" pieces, at room temperature


Making the Lemon Cake

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C with the rack in the center of the oven and prepare two 9-inch cake pans (see notes 1 and 2 below).
  • Begin by sifting cake flour, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl. Whisk all dry ingredients together until combined and set the bowl off to the side. 
  • In the bowl of the stand mixer (or a large bowl if using a hand mixer), beat the butter with the paddle attachment at medium speed until creamy (approximately 30 seconds).  Slowly pour in the granulated sugar and beat at high speed until well combined and has a light and fluffy texture (i.e., approximately 3 minutes). 
  • Decrease the speed to medium and add the eggs one at a time, beating until fully incorporated after each egg.  Next, add the lemon zest and juice and beat until combined.  Make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl, if necessary, so that everything is fully incorporated. 
  • Reduce the speed to low and add the dry ingredient mixture in 3 additions.  Alternate the dry ingredients with the milk (i.e., 3 additions of dry and 2 additions of milk).  Mix after each addition until just combined.  Do not over mix. 
  • Divide the batter into the two prepared pans.  Each pan should have approximately 667g of batter.

Baking the Lemon Cake

  • Bake the 9-inch cake for 22 to 25 minutes (see note 3 below), until they are golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.  Cool the cakes in the pans on a cooling rack for 15 minutes before inverting the cakes onto the rack to cool to room temperature. 

Making the Raspberry Sauce

  • Place a strainer over a bowl and completely thaw the frozen raspberries.  This will take multiple hours.  When thawed, press the berries into the strainer to remove as much juice as possible.  Place the remaining pulp into a food processor and puree the raspberries.  Then place the raspberry puree back into the strainer to remove all raspberry seeds.  This process can be a little laborious. Patience is key. 
  • Place the raspberry juice and raspberry puree into a saucepan over medium heat and reduce to approximately 1⅓ liquid cups (see note 6 below).  Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice and sugar.  Continue stirring until the sugar completely dissolves.  Refrigerate the raspberry sauce for a minimum of one hour before adding to the Raspberry Cream Cheese Filling.

Making the Raspberry Cream Cheese Filling

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer (or large bowl if using a hand mixer), use the whisk attachment to beat the heavy cream on high speed until stiff peaks form.  Pour the whipped cream into a smaller bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate. 
  • Use the same mixing bowl to beat the cream cheese at medium speed using the paddle attachment.  Beat for approximately 2 minutes or until creamy. Add the raspberry sauce and beat at medium speed until combined.  Scrape the sides of the bowl to ensure that all ingredients are evenly incorporated. 
  • Remove the bowl from the stand mixer and use a silicone spatula to gently fold the whipped cream into the mixture until completely combined (i.e., no streaks).  Make sure to fold gently to avoid deflating the air from the whipped cream.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate while making the buttercream. 

Making Italian Meringue Buttercream

  • Put the egg whites into the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment (see note 8 below). 
  • Place the larger amount of granulated sugar (i.e., 150g) into a small saucepan, add the water, and stir to moisten the sugar.  Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium-high heat until it reaches 230°F/110°C. 
  • While the sugar heats on the stove, turn the stand mixer to medium and gradually pour in the remaining granulated sugar.  Whip the egg whites until they form loose peaks and then turn the mixer to low speed until the sugar is ready. 
  • When the sugar reaches 248°F/120°C,remove the pan from the heat.  Turn the stand mixer to medium-low speed and slowly pour the sugar between the side of the bowl and the whisk.  Try very hard to avoid pouring the sugar onto the whisk because it will whip the sugar onto the side of the bowl and create hard strings of cooled sugar. 
  • After the sugar has been incorporated, increase the speed to medium-high and whisk for 15 minutes, or until the bottom of the bowl is at room temperature and the whites hold stiff peaks.  Warm egg whites will melt the butter and cause it to become the wrong texture. 
  • Reduce the speed to medium and add the butter, a few pieces at a time.  If it looks like the mixture is broken (i.e., if the buttercream looks curdled), increase the speed of the mixer to bring it back to the correct consistency.  If the consistency of the buttercream is too loose after adding all the butter, place the buttercream in the fridge for a few hours. 
  • The buttercream can be made and refrigerated up to 5 days before you need it.  Remove buttercream from the fridge a minimum of 30 minutes before using it to bring it to a piping/spreading consistency. 

Assembling the Lemon Raspberry Cake

  • Use a long, serrated knife to cut each layer into two for a total of 4 layers (see note 9 below).  Place the flat side of one layer on a cake board.  Pipe a ½” dam of buttercream around the outside edge of the cake and fill the interior with approximately one third of the raspberry cream cheese filling.  Use an offset spatula to spread the filling until smooth.  Top with another cake layer, add the buttercream dam, and the raspberry filling.  Repeat with the third cake layer and final third of the raspberry filling.  Finish the lemon raspberry cake by adding the last cake layer upside down so the top of the cake has sharp corners and a flat top. 
  • Frost the sides and top of the cake using the buttercream.
  • Reserve approximately ⅛ cup of buttercream to color with the accent color.  Before the buttercream has a chance to crust on the cake, streak small amounts of the accent color along the bottom of the cake.  Then, gently drag an offset spatula through the accent color into the white buttercream.  Don’t press too hard or you will create divots in the buttercream. 
  • Finish by arranging fruit in an arc on the top of the cake to dress it up a little more. 


  1. “Prepared” means the pans have been oiled (I like to use Crisco vegetable shortening although you can use butter or a non-stick spray) on the bottom and sides of the pan, a 9-inch parchment paper circle is placed in the bottom of the pan (with a light layer of oil over it), and the whole pan is covered in a light dusting of flour.  Gently tap out any extra flour into the sink/garbage and your pans are ready to go.  I typically do this step before I start measuring out any of my ingredients so I’m not tempted to skip it when my batter is done.  This technique will make it so you never have a cake stick to the pan again.
  2. This Lemon Raspberry Cake was for a graduation party, so I made a 12” cake rather than the 9” cake recipe above.  If you would like to make a 12” version of this cake as well, make the following number of recipes from above:
    • Lemon Cake: Double the cake recipe above.  For each recipe, you will divide the batter into two 12-inch pans (i.e., a total of 4 cake layers for the whole cake). 
    • Raspberry Sauce: Same as above for 9-inch cake.
    • Raspberry Cream Cheese Filling: Triple the recipe above.
    • Italian Meringue Buttercream: Double the recipe above
  3. Divide the same amount of batter into two 12-inch cake pans and bake for 17-18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.
  4. Do not use fresh raspberries for this recipe. If you only have access to fresh raspberries, place them in the freezer until frozen and then thaw them. This will allow their juices to release.
  5. This amount of sugar is optional and depends on the sweetness of the raspberries.  Taste your berries before adding the sugar.  The sauce should be sweet and not sour when you have finished the recipe. 
  6. Normally, when I make a raspberry sauce, I only reduce the raspberry juice instead of both the thawed juice AND puree.  This keeps the raspberry flavor more intense.  Because this sauce is added to a filling, I needed it to be thicker, so I reduced both.  The sauce is very delicious using both preparations.
  7. This filling can be made ahead and refrigerated for up to a day.  If it sits for longer, the whipped cream will begin to weep and the texture will break down. 
  8. I would highly suggest using a stand mixer to make this recipe.  It takes a long time to mix the meringue. Holding a hand mixer will make your arm tired. 
  9. If making the 12” cake, you will have 4 layers without needing to cut the cake.