Summertime is the best time - try and convince me otherwise. This Lemon Raspberry Cake is bright like sunshine and perfect to celebrate the season. It is a simple recipe with simple ingredients to make a bright, light and spongy lemon cake with fresh raspberry cream cheese frosting and swirls of mashed raspberries on top. The cake itself is fluffy and the frosting is tart and sweet and so creamy. It's a great recipe to feed a crowd since it's a sheet cake, so plan to bring it to your next BBQ!
WHY YOU WILL LOVE THIS RECIPE:
- Easy to make - this is almost a one bowl recipe. All you need is a whisk and two bowls to make this recipe, but I sometimes use my hand mixer when I feel like it. It is so super simple!
- Soft and fluffy cake - this recipe makes a fluffy cake with a spongy crumb texture.
- Citrusy lemon cake - one whole tablespoon of fresh lemon zest adds a lot of flavor to this cake and pairs really well with raspberries.
- Cream cheese frosting - this is one of my favorite ways to make frosting. There is NO butter! It's just a combination of cream cheese and whipping cream and it's like a more flavourful, thicker whipped cream. It is luscious!
- Fresh raspberries - for the frosting you simply mash fresh whole raspberries with a bit of sugar and mix that in. I also swirl it on top. This cake is just so bright, fruity and fresh!
INGREDIENTS FOR LEMON RASPBERRY CAKE
- All purpose flour - unbleached all-purpose flour works great for fluffy spongy cake. You could use cake flour, but if you use bleached flour (a lot of cake flour is bleached) then it tends to absorb more water and might give the cake a drier texture.
- Unsalted butter - this recipe uses a combination of butter and oil. Butter adds incredible flavor and I highly recommend that you follow this method for the best results! You can use unsalted or salted butter - it won't make much of a difference here.
- Oil - liquid oil will keep this cake soft and helps with movement of leavening gases through the batter for a nice even rise to create a flat cake. I recommend sunflower for the cleanest taste, but you can use any neutral cooking oil.
- Granulated sugar - simple granulated sugar keeps this cake moist and doesn't interfere with the lemon flavor.
- Eggs - two large eggs will add nice structure and help with the moist spongy texture.
- Pure vanilla extract - vanilla will elevate and complement the lemon taste and add wonderful flavor to the frosting. I like this Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla extract.
- Yogurt - use full fat plain yogurt to add tanginess to this recipe and complement the fruity notes.
- Fresh raspberries - I highly recommend only fresh raspberries for this recipe. Frozen raspberries will leach a lot of water and make the frosting too wet.
- Lemon zest - the zest from one large or two small lemons will give this cake a nice citrus note.
- Milk - any type of milk will do. I prefer whole milk for baking.
STEP BY STEP INSTRUCTIONS
- STEP 1). Infuse the sugar. Add sugar to a large bowl with the lemon zest and rub it together with your fingers or using the back of a large spoon until the sugar is fragrant and takes on a hint of yellow. This helps to release more essential oils from the zest.
- STEP 2). Combine dry ingredients. Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt into the bowl with the lemony sugar and whisk it to blend evenly.
- STEP 3). Combine wet ingredients. Whisk together eggs, melted butter, oil, yogurt, vanilla and milk in a medium bowl.
- STEP 4). Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the liquid mixture. Fold gently to combine the ingredients until mostly combined, but a few streaks of flour still remain (i.e. before completely combined).
- STEP 5). Bake. Spread batter evenly into prepared pan and bake until evenly golden and a skewer inserted into the center comes out with clean. It should spring back when you press it gently. Transfer pan to a wire rack and let cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes before transferring to the rack to finish cooling.
- STEP 6). Make the frosting. First blend the cream cheese with a couple of tablespoons of cold cream to smooth it out, then continue to beat in the cream until it is evenly incorporated. Once smooth, beat to firm peaks then mix in the sugar and mashed raspberries. Spread the frosting on the cake and swirl the remaining raspberry mash on top.
EXPERT BAKING TIPS FOR LEMON RASPBERRY CAKE
- Infuse the sugar with lemon flavor. To get the most out of your lemons, rub the sugar with the lemon zest first before mixing with the liquid ingredients. The friction will release the essential oils in the yellow zest and they will coat sugar crystals to carry all of that wonderful flavor through the batter!
- Use room temperature ingredients. Since this is a simple dump and mix (almost one bowl) method, there is minimal mixing steps involved so it is important to have all ingredients at the same temperature (not cold!) in order to help them blend evenly together.
- Sift the dry ingredients. This is optional, but it will minimize the amount of mixing needed to combine the ingredients evenly so that you do not over-mix the batter.
- Do not over-mix the batter. Once the flour is Combined then the batter is ready for baking. You can use a whisk and mix by hand if you are concerned about over-mixing.
- Use fresh (not frozen) raspberries. Frozen berries leach a lot of water because their cell structures become damaged during the freezing process. This will add too much moisture to the frosting, so avoid frozen berries for this recipe.
Can I make this lemon raspberry cake with all melted butter?
I highly recommend using a blend of oil and butter for this recipe because the oil will blend easier into the batter for a more even rise and a softer texture.
Can I make lemon raspberry cake with all oil?
If you make this recipe using ½ cup total oil, the cake will be very soft but the flavour will be a bit more bland.
What makes cake moist?
Cake will be moist if you do not add too much flour and you bake it until it is just done (ex. not over-baked). The right amount of sugar is also important for this cake recipe since it is a one-bowl method and sugar will help interfere with gluten formation as you are mixing in the flour.
Why is my cake not fluffy?
If your cake turns out dense, then it could be a couple of things: you over-mixed the batter, or your raising agents are not active. Make sure to use fresh baking powder and baking soda. Also, be very gentle with mixing and stop once the flour is just incorporated.
What causes cake to be dry and dense?
Too much flour and not enough sugar is the main reason why cake can turn out dry and dense. It is important to have the right proportions of liquid to dry ingredients in a one bowl cake recipe.
What can I use as a substitute for yogurt?
I really recommend using plain yogurt for this recipe (2-5% fat) because it gives the perfect amount of fat and acidity, however you can make these muffins with Greek yogurt or sour cream. The texture will just be slightly firmer from the higher protein content.
Can I use frozen raspberries?
No, I highly recommend fresh raspberries here. Frozen berries leach a lot of water because their cell structures become damaged during the freezing process. This will add too much moisture to the frosting, so avoid frozen berries for this recipe.
Can I make this in a round cake pan?
Yes, you can make this in two 8-inch round pans to make a layer cake and reduce the bake time by 3-5 minutes. The layers will be about 1-inch thick. Or, you can make this in one 9-inch round pan and add another 5-10 minutes to the bake time.
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Lemon Raspberry Cake
- 1 cup plus 2 tbsp 225g granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- 1 ⅔ cups 235g all purpose flour
- 1 ¼ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- ½ cup 120ml sour cream
- 1 teaspoon 5ml pure vanilla extract
- ¼ cup 60ml sunflower oil
- ¼ cup 56g unsalted butter, melted
- ½ cup 120ml milk, room temperature
- 1 cup 130g fresh raspberries
- ¼ cup 50g granulated sugar
- ½ cup 125g cold cream cheese
- 1 cup 237ml cold heavy whipping cream
- ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 9x13-inch pan with parchment paper.
- Rub sugar with lemon zest in a large bowl until it is fragrant and takes on a yellow tint. Sift in flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and whisk until very well evenly blended.
- Combine eggs, sour cream, vanilla, oil, melted butter and milk in a medium bowl and whisk until completely smooth.
- Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl with dry ingredients and mix on low speed until combined and smooth. Do not over-mix the batter.
- Spread the batter into prepared pan and bake for 22-25 minutes until lightly golden and a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer pan to a rack and let cool completely.
- For the frosting, first mash raspberries with half of the sugar until it becomes a puree.
- Place cream cheese into a medium bowl and beat on medium speed with an electric hand mixer until smooth. Add just 2 tablespoon of cream and beat until smooth again. Then gradually add a bit more cream and continue to beat until completely smooth and lump-free. Continue to gradually beat in the cream and once smooth, whip until stiff peaks form. Mix in sugar and vanilla. Add raspberry mixture 1 tablespoon at a time and fold it in gently. You will use about 4 tablespoons but stop if the frosting becomes too runny. Place it in the fridge for 20 minutes to firm up.
- Spread frosting evenly over the cake and then dollop teaspoons of the remaining raspberry mixture over the frosting and swirl it in with a knife. Refrigerate before serving.