Filed under: Cakes / Layer cakes
March 8, 2024

Raspberry Lemon Cake

The softest lemon cake split into fluffy layers, studded with fresh raspberries and layered with a tart, smooth lemon curd. The cake is wrapped with a tart, buttery smooth swiss meringue raspberry buttercream which is naturally pink.

5 from 3 votes
Yield: 1 three layer 8" cake
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This one started with a cake I bought from a bakery for new years: a 5 inch round, two tiered cake covered in a natural pink buttercream and had the label: lemon raspberry cake. Even though I couldn’t see the inside, I was immediately obsessed (y’all know how much I love those tart flavors!) and asked if they sold by the slice. The answer was no, so I said I’ll take the cake (justifying it to myself with the excuse that we had cause to celebrate). 

We brought it home, waited until evening then cut out four slices. The inside was dense but I saw a layer of lemon curd and said, this is must be good. Except it wasn’t; the cake layers were dense and the buttercream very stiff (not at all creamy). I liked the curd and the raspberry jam but that was it. 

Recipe origins

Determined to recreate it, I set myself up with the task of: making lemon curd (easy task – I have the best curd and a microwave one), a raspberry jam (quickly discovered it wasn’t worth it), and a raspberry swiss meringue buttercream (nailed it – can’t wait for you to try this!). The bakery’s cake layers were raspberry but last year I tried a raspberry verison of my blueberry layer cake and didn’t like it much so I went with a lemon cake (the perfect lemon cake! It took me ~5 takes to get this right, it’s based on my lemon olive oil cake!) and added some fresh raspberries to the cake itself once, and another time between the layers (there’s benefits to both, we’ll talk about them in a second).

Are you ready to make a gorgeous AND delicious cake? One with fluffy lemon forward flavors and pops of raspberry all around? Let’s do it. 

Recipe Ingredients 

Lemons: We’re using the zest and the juice so rub your lemons clean of any wax coating and when you zest, stop before you get to the white pith. Juice after your zest. 

Sugar: fine granulated sugar. Reducing the amount of sugar in this cake will cause the layers to be a bit more dry. 

Cake flour: cake flour is more finely milled than all purpose, is from the softest wheat, has a low protein content and has had added cornstarch. All of this makes for a very fine, fluffy cake. If you need to substitute with all purpose, swap out four tablespoons of the flour for four tablespoons of cornstarch. Please, please measure carefully if using cup measurements. 

Oil: something flavorless is best here, because it’ll allow the lemon to shine. Canola, sunflower, a mild avocado oil or grapeseed. I don’t use butter in this cake because in my trials I found it dried out much quicker. 

Kefir: full fat kefir or buttermilk. If you have neither, thin out some greek yogurt with water until it’s a pourable consistency. 

Salt: fine sea salt. If using table salt, use half the amount. 

Vanilla: pure vanilla extract or vanilla paste. Artificial vanilla will give a very ‘fake cake’ flavor (great for funfetti cakes, not for lemon). 

Eggs: whole eggs. Bring them to room temperature by placing them in a bowl of hot to warm water.

How to make Raspberry Lemon Cake 

Start with the lemon curd. Recipe is here (you only need half of it). Make it ahead of time and keep in the fridge in a mason jar to seal it. Leftovers can be stored in the fridge and will keep for about 2 weeks. 

The cake layers 

Preheat the oven to 325 F. We’re using a lower temperature here so the layers bake slowly and evenly. Prep your cake pans by greasing them with butter and shaking flour over the butter to coat it (or use a baking spray). Use cake liners if you have them for easy removal. 


Start making the cake batter: pour the sugar into the bottom of a large bowl then zest the lemons over the sugar. Avoid the white pith – that part will make it sour, not tart. Once all the lemons are zested, rub the zest into the sugar to release the oils until all the sugar is the texture of wet sand. 

Add the eggs to the bowl and quickly start beating; if you leave the eggs in the sugar unmixed they’ll start to ‘cook’ the eggs. Beat until the mix is very light and fluffy, it should turn a few shades lighter and be light, creamy and bubbly. 

With the mixer on, slowly pour in the vanilla, salt and the oil. Beat until all the oil is incorporated and then for another 30 seconds. Scrape down the bowl as needed to ensure even mixing. 

Sift in the cake flour and the baking soda and powder then turn the mixer on its lowest setting. Slowly pour in the buttermilk and the lemon juice. If you’d like to add the raspberries to the cake, this is when to do it. 

Scrape the bowl as needed and then divide the batter between the prepared pans. 

Bake until the center springs back or a cake tester comes out clean. Cool the cakes in the pan then invert onto a cooling rack.

The cake should be completely cool before making the buttercream and assembly. 

Filling options 

  • Lemon Curd, recipe here 
  • Meyer Lemon Curd, recipe here 
  • Raspberry Jam, store-bought or use a recipe you know and like 
  • Fresh raspberries 


Cake Assembly Tips 

  • Wait until the cake layers are completely cool – or they’ll melt the buttercream 
  • Pipe a thick border around each cake layer: this will hold in the curd so that it isn’t seeping out between the layers after assembly (or when you’re still frosting) 
  • Slice the raspberries: if adding on top of the lemon curd, slice them so they can lay flat. If you put in whole raspberries the cake layers will struggle to stay straight. 

Cake Storage Tips 

Keep the cake at room temperature the day of serving. If you have leftovers, cut the cake into slices then wrap each slice with plastic wrap and freeze. When you’d like to eat a slice, thaw on a plate but keep the plastic wrap draped over the cake until it’s at room temperature.


Raspberry Lemon Cake Recipe 

Raspberry Lemon Cake

The softest lemon cake layered with fresh raspberries a tart, smooth lemon curd and wrapped in a raspberry swiss meringue buttercream.
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Cooling Time: 1 hour
Yields: 1 three layer 8" cake
5 from 3 votes


  • Zest of 5 lemons
  • 400g or 2 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 265g or 1 ⅓ cups flavorless oil
  • 500g or 4 cups cake flour if measuring by cup, fluff the flour with a fork then sprinkle it into the measuring cup and level the cup - be very careful to NOT overpack or overmeasure the flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 345g or 1 ½ cups g kefir or buttermilk
  • 120g ½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Fresh raspberries
  • Lemon Curd
  • Raspberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream


Make the lemon cake

  • Preheat the oven to 325 F. Grease and flour three 8 inch round cake pans (if you’re making a smaller cake make half the recipe and use two 6 inch round pans).
  • Set the eggs in a bowl of hot water to come up to room temperature.
  • Pour the sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer and over it zest the lemons. Rub the lemon zest into the sugar with your fingers until the sugar feels like wet sand, this helps release the oils and flavor. Add the vanilla and salt.
  • Add the eggs to the bowl and beat until very light and fluffy, about 4-5 minutes. With the mixer on, slowly pour in the oil. Beat until combined.
  • Over the bowl, sift in the cake flour and add the leavening. With the mixer on, slowly pour in the buttermilk/kefir and the fresh lemon juice. Stop mixing as soon as the flour is incorporated. Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the bowl and ensure the batter is evenly mixed. If you are adding the raspberries to the cake layers, stir in 1 cup of fresh berries.
  • Divide the batter between the prepared cake pans. Bake until a cake tester comes out clean or the tops spring back, for 8 inch cakes this will take 30-45 minutes, for 6 inch cakes 25-35 minutes. Invert the cakes onto a cooling rack and allow to cool completely.

Make the raspberry buttercream and transfer to a piping bag.

    Assemble the cake

    • Slice the domed tops of the cakes so that you have even layers. Set one layer, face up on a cake turntable. Pipe a border around the cake then spread about 3 tablespoons of lemon curd over the cake. Add sliced raspberries on top, if desired.
    • Place the second cake layer face down onto the cake and pipe another border, spread 3 more tablespoons of lemon curd and add fresh raspberries.
    • Plate the third cake layer face down and pipe buttercream around all the cake sides and add a big dollop on top. Spread the buttercream over the cake and use a bench scraper to even out the sides. Decorate as desired, with fresh raspberries or by piping a pretty border on the sides.


    Makes three 8 inch cakes

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