When I think Mother's Day, I think pretty, bright and fabulous! I wanted to create a cake that was all that and then some because mom deserves the best! Bright Spring flavors, comforting and makes you smile pretty much sums up this raspberry lemon layer cake!
This is one of those cakes where I don't even know where to begin because every element has me swooning! From the incredibly light cake layers to the bright lemon curd, bordering on make you pucker material, to that buttercream! That hot pink raspberry buttercream is bursting with flavor and it doesn't have one single drop of food coloring in it! Completely and totally smitten, my friends!
So I tried a different method for the lemon curd this time and after several rounds of testing, I think it's a keeper. I melted the butter first with the lemon zest so the bright citrus had time to really come out and shine. Then I proceeded as normal whisking everything continuously until thickened. There are some extra tips in the notes sections, which are pretty helpful.
Moving on to this layer cake! It's light, flavorful and was pretty much meant to house lemon curd. What shocked me beyond belief was that six days after I made and assembled the cake, it was still incredible! Imagine how amazing it was on day one!
The raspberry cream cheese buttercream is definitely the star of the show! My big trick for the incredible amount of flavor and color is freeze dried raspberries! I've been using them for a few years now in different desserts, but the major reason I love using them here is because normally if you add flavoring to cream cheese frosting, it gets a little soupy or too sweet. Not this time!
The freeze dried raspberries are perfection here and they're super easy to use. You just pulverize them in a food processor until you have powder, sift out the seeds and add to the buttercream. The flavor is incredible and what's even more amazing is that the raspberry powder cuts the sweetness in the buttercream leaving it beautifully balanced.
And that color! I can't even handle it. If you follow along on Instagram, you may have noticed I'm slightly obsessed! Expect more of this in the next few months!
I suggest making all 3 components one day and then assembling the next if you can. Cakes are much easier to work with when chilled and lemon curd is best when it sets overnight. Also, when you first make the raspberry buttercream, it will be a bit on the soft side because you have to beat all the powdered sugar and raspberry powder in. Let it chill overnight and when you're ready to use it, you'll just mix it until it hits the right consistency.
Last up is the decoration. A single batch of buttercream is great for assembling the cake and frosting it regularly. If you are going to ruffle it or decorate another way, you will need to double the recipe. Also, if you're a little intimidated with frosting cakes or decorating, don't sweat it. The top gets covered in loads of fresh raspberries so it's going to look beautiful!
Once you put it all together, no matter how you decorate it, it really is quite dreamy. The cake is so light and the lemon curd is simply luscious! And I think we all know how I feel about the buttercream! And in case I haven't said it lately, I really love cake...
Topped with mounds of fresh raspberries, this is going to look gorgeous on your table for Mothers Day! I hope you make it and remember to tag your photos on Instagram so I can see them! Happy Mothers Day to all the moms out there, especially mine! I hope you all have a beautiful day!
Yield: 8-inch layer cake
- 6 ounces unsalted butter
- Zest of 3 lemons
- 1 cup + 2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- Pinch of salt
- 9 egg yolks
Lemon Layer Cake
- 2 and 1/3 cups cake flour
- 3 tsp. baking powder
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 6 ounces unsalted butter
- 1 and 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- Zest of 3 lemons
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 5 egg whites
- 1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
Raspberry Cream Cheese Buttercream - this is enough to ring the cake and frost it regularly. If you are going to do the ruffle technique, you will need to double this recipe.
- 7 ounces unsalted butter
- 8 ounces cream cheese
- 3- 3 and 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 1.2 ounces freeze dried raspberries - this is approximately 1 and 1/3 cups freeze dried raspberries. I get them at Trader Joe's.
- 12 ounces fresh raspberries for the top of the cake.
- Tip #104 for ruffles.
- In a medium size saucepan, melt butter with lemon zest. When melted, remove from heat.
- Whisk in sugar, lemon juice, pinch of salt and egg yolks.
- Place saucepan back over medium-low heat and cook until thickened, whisking continuously. This should take about 8-10 minutes. Keep in mind you want the curd thick enough that it coats the back of a spoon, but do not let it boil.
- Immediately remove from heat and strain the curd.
- Place plastic wrap directly on top of the curd to prevent a skin from forming. When curd cools down a bit, refrigerate until ready to use. Curd should be refrigerated a minimum of 8 hours (I prefer overnight) when using in a cake.
Lemon Layer Cake
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line the bottom of 2 (8-inch) cake pans with parchment paper and spray the pans with nonstick cooking spray.
- Sift cake flour, baking powder and salt together and set aside.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream butter, sugar and lemon zest until light and fluffy, about 5-6 minutes.
- Add vanilla extract.
- Alternate adding the flour mixture with milk, starting and ending with the dry ingredients. Do not over mix!
- In a clean mixing bowl, whip egg whites with cream of tartar on medium speed.
- As the whites start to get frothy, slowly add in the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar and continue to whip until you have stiff peaks.
- Stir a small amount of the whipped whites into the cake batter to lighten it.
- Fold the remaining whites into the cake batter in two additions. Do not over mix!
- Divide batter evenly between prepared cake pans and bake for approximately 30 minutes. Cakes are done when they are set on top and pull away from the sides.
- Set cakes on a cooling rack to cool. If you are not assembling the cake the same day, wrap completely cooled cakes in plastic wrap and freeze until ready to use.
Raspberry Cream Cheese Buttercream
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream butter and cream cheese on medium speed for about 5 minutes.
- Start adding 3 cups of powdered sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, so you don't have a sugar shower, scraping down the bowl as needed.
- Put freeze dried raspberries in a food processor and process until you have powder.
- Sift raspberries to remove the seeds. You will have to sift it 2-3 times to get rid of all the seeds.
- Add raspberry powder to the buttercream and continue to mix on medium-high speed until fully combined.
- At this point, you will have to taste the buttercream and decide if you need any additional powdered sugar. I personally like 3 cups, but if you are piping the buttercream you may need to add an additional 1/2 cup of powdered sugar to make it stiffer.
- Slice lemon cakes in half horizontally so you have 4 cake layers.
- Fill a piping bag, fitted with a round tip such as #805, with raspberry buttercream.
- Place first cake layer on a cake stand or cake cardboard and pipe a ring of raspberry buttercream around the edge of the cake.
- Spoon 1/3 of the lemon curd in the center of the cake and spread evenly with a spatula.
- Repeat this process with the remaining cake layers and lemon curd.
- Frost the cake with the remaining buttercream and top with raspberries.
- If you are going to ruffle the cake, do a very thin crumb coat and refrigerate about an hour before you continue.
- To ruffle: Fill a piping bag, fitted with a #104 tip and starting with the fat edge of the tip facing the cake pipe ruffles going back and forth (right to left) while moving the piping bag straight up. Continue around the entire cake.
- To pipe the ruffle border: Hold the fat side of the petal tip towards you (thin facing out) and pipe right over where the vertical ruffles end to cover up the ends.
- Top cake with fresh raspberries.
- Cake is best when served at room temperature.
For the lemon curd:
- Melting the butter with the lemon zest really infuses a lot of lemon flavor in the curd.
- Whisk the curd continuously while cooking it. You want it to get thick enough where it coats the back of a spoon. When you run your finger across the spoon, it should hold a line.
- If you see it starting to bubble up around the edges, it's done! Do not let it boil.
- Placing plastic wrap directly on top of the curd prevents a skin from forming.
For the cake:
- Do not over mix the batter.
- Be gentle when folding in the whipped whites so you don't deflate the batter.
- Cakes can be baked ahead of time. When they are completely cool, wrap in plastic wrap and freeze.
For the Raspberry Buttercream:
- I purchase freeze dried raspberries at Trader Joe's. They come in a 1.2 ounce bag and I use the whole thing.
- The only caution is don't open them or process them ahead of when you have to. If humidity gets to them, they get kind of soggy and you won't be able to turn them into powder. Also, even the powder can get kind of wet, so be sure to open and pulverize them when you need them!