I came across this beautiful Lemon & Raspberry Cake for Two from Foxes Love Lemons this weekend and was immediately inspired to make one of my own! I just love beautiful layer cakes but the thought of evenly cutting a cake in half is a true test of my skills. I just got this Wilton 5 Piece Easy Layer Cake Pan Set and had been dying to try them out. The set consists of 5 small 6 inch cake pans that you then use as each of the layers in your layer cake. You still have to make sure the tops of your cakes are even before you bake them and I still required some smoothing of the cake layers after they were baked but over all the layer cake pan set was a hit! Plus the resulting cake is small enough for 3-4 (or 2 cake lovers) to enjoy a slice before it’s all gone.
Getting the perfect light airy lemon cake was not an easy task! After multiple trials that tasted great but weren’t the “one”, I found the perfect recipe that matched the delicate airy cake texture I was going for. This recipe is adapted from the Lemon Layer Cake recipe by Erin from Well Plated – the perfect light lemon cake! In order to complement the lightness and delicate lemon flavor, I paired the filling with a not too sweet raspberry preserve filling and a light whipped cream topping.
How to get the cake to be light and fluffy…
In order to make the cake as light and delicate as possible, I combined two techniques bakers use to develop this texture – creaming butter and sugar together for the batter, and then folding in whipped egg whites. Creaming butter and sugar is one of the simplest techniques you can use. Beating the sugar with room temperature butter aerates the butter making more fine air bubbles in the batter that work with the bubbles created by the baking powder. Remember to use room temperature butter for this technique and do’t over beat the mixture. If you’d like to learn more about this technique, King Arthur Flour has a wonderful post here. Per Erin’s suggestion, I also added a teaspoon of freshly grated lemon zest to my butter and sugar during the creaming process. This gave the cake a more natural lemon flavor than could come from extract alone.
The second technique to make the cake light and fluffy is to whip the egg whites and fold them in to the batter. Whipping egg whites requires a little time and patience. Trust me, I’ve gotten impatient on egg whites before and the results are definitely visible. For this technique, you’ll want to make sure your whisk and bowl are thoroughly cleaned. If you happen to have a copper bowl, use that for beating your egg whites – a chemical reaction with the copper will allow peaks to form properly. For the rest of us mortals, any old bowl will do – but you’ll want to add a pinch of cream of tartar to mimic this chemical reaction and stabilize the egg white foam. Before starting the process, let your egg whites come to room temperature. I hate wasting egg yolks so I usually keep a carton of egg whites in the fridge for any recipes that call for egg whites only. Plus they make for pretty good egg white omelettes too… 1/4 cup is approximately the equivalent of 1 egg white. Using a stand mixer, egg beaters, or just a plain old whisk, beat at a medium speed until soft peaks form. What are soft peaks? Check out the visual guide from The Kitchn here. If you’d like to reference a full tutorial on whipping egg whites, check out the guide here from the Joy Kitchen. Trust me, this process takes TIME. Don’t just assume since you’ve gotten a little foam on top that the egg whites are ready to go. You also want to make sure you don’t over whip the egg whites – too much whipping and the results will be dry. Then, just take the whipped egg white mixture and gently fold it into the batter with a spatula. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy!
- Using cake flour will give you the lightest, fluffiest cake.
- Use a clean toothpick to test if the cake is done.
- Rotate cakes if your oven doesn’t heat evenly.
- Many bakers will use a piece of cardboard under their cakes prior to frosting in order to move the cake easier. Cardboard rounds can be purchased at any baking supply shop or craft store but they are really easy to DIY. Trace the outside of your pan with a pen on a piece or cardboard or a paper plate on the side that will not touch the cake. Cut out and use as the “base” of your cake so you can move it easily onto a cake stand or plate.
- Cool the cake thoroughly before frosting. This will ensure that the whipped cream or frosting doesn’t melt and slide off your cake in a disastrous manner. Trust me, I am the queen of being impatient. The result looks pretty gross and no one will want to eat your cake. 🙁
Give it a try and let me know what you think!
Raspberry Lemon Cake
For the Cake Layers
- Cooking spray optional
- 1/2 stick of butter room temperature
- 3/4 cup of sugar
- 2 tsp of lemon zest
- 1 tsp Lemon Extract
- 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
- 1 cup + 2 tablespoons of flour*
- 1/2 tbsp of baking powder
- Pinch of salt
- 2 egg whites or 1/2 cup of liquid egg whites
- Pinch of cream of tartar
- 1/2 +1 tbsp cup of buttermilk
For the Filling
- 1 cup of raspberry preserves room temperature
For the Topping
- Fresh Raspberries
- Lemon Zest garnish, optional
- Whipped Cream / Whipped Frosting
For the cake
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease your cake pans with cooking spray or butter. Set aside.
Assemble the dry team by mixing the flour, baking powder, and salt.
Beat lemon zest, sugar, and room temperature butter for 2-3 minutes until well creamed.
Add in lemon and vanilla extract and beat for another 30 seconds.
Whip egg whites with a pinch of cream of tartar until they form soft peaks. See details in my blog post for tips.
Alternate mixing the flour into the creamed butter and sugar mixture.
Gently fold in egg whites with a spatula.
Scoop batter into the cake pans (I had to use three 6 inch layer pans) and use a spatula or offset knife to even out the layers.
Bake 20 - 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Cool on a cooling rack for 30 minutes. Ensure the cake is fully cooled before frosting.
For the filling
Layer the cooled cakes with a generous layer of raspberry preserves and alternate. It helps to alternate the cakes facing up and down for stability.
For the frosting
Cool the cake thoroughly. Apply a generous amount of whipped cream topping or whipped frosting and cover the sides of the cake.
Garnish with raspberries and lemon zest.
Refrigerate before serving.
*I've used all purpose flour, but cake flour is preferred for the lightest and fluffiest cake.