Lemon Raspberry Swirl Cake

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This moist Lemon Raspberry Cake consists of moist lemon cake layers swirled with raspberry, and frosted with lemon cream cheese frosting.

Lemon Raspberry Swirl Cake, sliced, on a pedestal.

It has a fine crumb and wonderful flavor, not to mention that it is so pretty when sliced! Keep it in mind for birthdays, holidays, and more.

How to make Lemon Raspberry Swirl Cake

The secret to this flavorful cake, as with many of our "velvet cake recipes" is the softened cream cheese in the cake batter. Just as with our white velvet cake, vanilla velvet cake, and more, it has a velvety soft texture that we just love.

You can find the full, printable cake recipe at the bottom of this post. Here is a quick rundown of our steps!

  • Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Grease and flour three 8 inch pans, adding a circle of parchment or wax paper to the bottom of each pan.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt for 30 seconds and set aside.
  • In another bowl, add the buttermilk, vegetable oil, lemon zest, and lemon extract. Set aside.
Wet and Dry Ingredients for cake batter- photo grid.
  • In the bowl of your mixer, add the butter and softened cream cheese and mix at medium speed until smooth.
  • Gradually add the sugar and mix at medium speed for 2-3 minutes.
Mixing the Butter and Cream Cheeese.
  • Add the room temperature eggs one at a time, mixing after each until the yellow of the yolk has blended.
  • With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the flour mixture and the milk mixture, beginning and ending with the flour mixture (We did 3 additions of the dry mixture, 2 additions of wet). Mix just until well incorporated, scraping bowl as needed.
Lemon Cake Batter in a mixing bowl.

Prepare the Raspberry Swirl

Now it's time to turn a bit of our lemon cake batter into raspberry. This will become our batter for swirling.

  • Scoop one cup of cake batter from the mixing bowl to a separate medium sized bowl.
  • Add the raspberry jam, raspberry extract (or raspberry jello powder) and a bit of red or pink coloring gel (optional), stirring just until well blended.
Raspberry Cake Batter for Lemon Raspberry Swirl Cake.

Filling the Cake Pans

Now it is time to put it all together. Let's get to marbling.

  • You'll have about 6 cups of plain batter and a little over 1 cup of raspberry batter.
  • I spread about one heaping cup of plain cake batter into each of the three prepared cake pans.
  • I then divided most of the raspberry batter between the three pans, adding by the spoonful on top of the plain batter.
Filling the three prepared pans, alternating between lemon and raspberry cake batter.
  • Add the remaining plain batter to each of the pans, and then any remaining raspberry batter. Try to keep the batter amounts the same in each pan.
  • Tap each of the pans on the counter to level out the batter, then run a knife through the batter a few times to create a swirled effect.
  • Bake at 325 degrees F for 28-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean or with just a few crumbs attached. Let cool for 5-10 minutes in the pans on a wire rack before turning out.

Assembling the Cake

Now the the cake layers have baked and cooled, it is time to assemble. Remember, you can find the full, printable recipe at the bottom of this post. Here's a look at our steps.

  • Place the first cake layer on the cake plate or pedestal.
  • Pipe a dam of cream cheese frosting around the edge of the layer (about ¼-1/2 inch from the edge).
Piping a dam of frosting around the edge of the lemon raspberry swirl cake layer.
  • Spread a thin layer of raspberry jam on the cake layer, then top with a layer of whipped cream filling.
Adding filling of raspberry jam and whipped cream to the cake.
  • Place the second cake layer on top and repeat the steps. Place the third cake layer on top and pipe frosting into any gaps between the cake layers. Frost the cake with a thin layer of frosting (crumb coat)
  • At this point, I like to chill the cake for 10-15 minutes in the freezer (or longer in the refrigerator) to firm things up. Then, add the final coat of frosting- I applied the frosting with a small offset spatula and created a textured look.
Frosting the Lemon Raspberry Swirl Cake.
  • I topped it with fresh raspberries!
Sliced Lemon Raspberry Swirl Cake on a pedestal.

Thanks so much for stopping by, we hope that you enjoy this Lemon Raspberry Cake!

Recipe FAQs

Yes, because of the whipped cream filling and cream cheese frosting, this cake needs to be refrigerated. However, because of the butter in the cake and frosting, it will firm up when chilled.

It is important to move the cake from the refrigerator to the kitchen counter a couple of hours before serving to allow it time to warm and soften!

Yes, just as with most of our cakes from strawberry cake to white velvet cakeorange cake and more, these layers freeze beautifully.

Once the cake layers have cooled down to warm (or room temperature), wrap each layer tightly in plastic wrap followed by foil. Freeze for up to three months.

To thaw, move the wrapped layers to the kitchen counter. Unwrap after about 30-45 minutes and continue to thaw to desired temperature for decorating.

Cream cheese adds richness to cakes and lends a soft, velvety texture. A few examples of our cake recipes with cream cheese are our cream cheese pound cake, almond cream cake, and almond raspberry swirl cake.

Yes, we would not recommend skipping either. Even our cakes that contain lemon juice also call for lemon extract & zest as flavor from lemon juice tends to bake out.

The fragrant oils that are contained in the lemon zest add a nice boost of lemon flavor to cakes and frostings. Lemon extract adds an additional layer of lemon flavor.

More Cakes with Fruit

We have many more fruity cakes to share with you! We have more raspberry cakes, lemon cakes, carrot cakes, banana cakes, and more.

Make sure to scroll through our cake recipes section for our full listing of recipes!

Sliced Lemon Raspberry Swirl Cake on a pedestal.

Lemon Raspberry Swirl Cake

This moist and flavorful lemon raspberry cake has wonderful flavor and a velvety soft texture.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Course: Dessert
Servings: 15
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Ingredients

  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened (226g)
  • 1 ½ sticks unsalted butter, softened (168g)
  • 2 cups sugar (400g)
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature (If in a hurry, place eggs in a bowl of warm water for 5 minutes.)
  • 3 cups cake flour (342g)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder (8g)
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda (3g)
  • ½ teaspoon salt (3g)
  • 1 cup buttermilk (242g)
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil (we used canola oil) (54g)
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon extract (12g)
  • zest of three lemons

For the Raspberry Swirl

  • cup Seedless Raspberry Jam, plus additional to spread between the cake layers (90g)
  • Raspberry Flavoring optional Either ½ teaspoon (2g) Raspberry Extract or 1 teaspoon Raspberry Jell-o powder.
  • 1 cup of reserved cake batter

Sweetened Whipped Cream Filling

  • 1 cup heavy cream (240g)
  • ¼ cup confectioners sugar (29g)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (4g)

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 2 sticks (226g) unsalted butter, slightly softened
  • 16 oz cream cheese, softened (452g)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract (4g) Adjust amount to your liking
  • ½ teaspoon salt (2g)
  • 6 to 6 ½ cups confectioners sugar (690g to 747g)

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Grease and flour three 8 inch pans, adding a circle of parchment or wax paper to the bottom of each pan.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt for 30 seconds and set aside.
  • In another bowl, add the buttermilk, vegetable oil, lemon zest, and lemon extract. Set aside.
  • In the bowl of your mixer, add the butter and cream cheese and mix at medium speed until smooth.
  • Gradually add the sugar and mix at medium speed for 2-3 minutes.
  • Add the room temperature eggs one at a time, mixing after each until the yellow of the yolk disappears.
  • With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the flour mixture and the milk mixture, beginning and ending with the flour mixture (We did 3 additions of the dry mixture, 2 additions of wet). Mix just until well incorporated, scraping bowl as needed.

Prepare the Raspberry Swirl

  • Remove 1 cup of cake batter and put into a separate small bowl.
  • Add the raspberry jam, raspberry extract and a bit of red or pink coloring gel (optional), stir until well blended.

Filling the Pans

  • You'll have about 6 cups of plain batter and a little over 1 cup of raspberry batter.
  • I spread about one heaping cup of plain cake batter into each of the three prepared cake pans. I then divided most of the raspberry batter between the three pans, adding by the spoonful on top of the plain batter.
  • Add the remaining plain batter to each of the pans, and then any remaining raspberry batter. Try to keep the batter amounts the same in each pan. Tap each of the pans on the counter to level out the batter, then run a knife through the batter a few times to create a swirled effect.
  • Bake at 325 degrees F for 28-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean or with just a few crumbs attached. Let cool for 5-10 minutes in the pans on a wire rack before turning out.
  • This recipe makes 7 ½ cups of batter. Works for cupcakes also (although there will be little to no dome).

For the Sweetened Whipped Cream Filling

  • Chill the mixing bowl and beaters/ whisk attachment in the freezer for 10 minutes.
  • Pour the whipping cream, powdered sugar and vanilla into the chilled mixing bowl, begin beating on low speed gradually increasing to medium high speed.  
  • The cream begins to thicken (approx. 1 ½ minutes) and soft peaks form....peaks that slightly bend over.  Watch closely as this happens quickly.  Do not over beat.

For the Cream Cheese Frosting

  • Cut the butter into slices and add to the bowl of your mixer. Beat on low to medium speed until the butter is softened and smooth.
  • Cut the softened cream cheese into pieces and add to the butter, beating at low to medium speed until incorporated. If you are using a hand mixer you may need to soften the cream cheese a bit more.
  • Add the lemon extract. Gradually add the powdered sugar beating on low speed until blended.
  • Increase mixing speed slightly and mix until fluffy.
  • This frosting will pipe best if used while still chilled. You can make it in advance, refrigerate and when ready to use let it soften slightly (do not microwave) and remix.
  • Will frost a 3 layer 8 or 9 inch cake.

Assembling the Cake

  • Place the first cake layer on the cake plate or pedestal.
  • Pipe a dam of cream cheese frosting around the edge of the layer (about ¼-1/2 inch from the edge).
  • Spread a thin layer of raspberry jam on the cake layer, then top with a layer of whipped cream filling.
  • Place the second cake layer on top and repeat the steps. Place the third cake layer on top and pipe frosting into any gaps between the cake layers. Frost the cake with a thin layer of frosting (crumb coat)
  • At this point, I like to chill the cake for 10-15 minutes in the freezer (or longer in the refrigerator) to firm things up. Then, add the final coat of frosting- I applied the frosting with a small offset spatula and created a textured look.
  • I topped with fresh raspberries.

Notes

 Raspberry Swirl: After combining the jam with cake batter, it had a light raspberry flavor but we wanted to add a bit more raspberry. We added ½ teaspoon raspberry extract (Watkins brand), but if you do not have raspberry extract, you can also use a teaspoon of Raspberry Jell-O powder. You can add a little pink or red coloring gel as well- we added red with a touch of pink.

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12 Comments

  1. could this also be made in a bunt pan or 9x13 ?
    My oven is small so I can't make layer cakes.
    thank you

  2. 5 stars
    This looks beautiful and delicious! When we have raspberry harvest I would like to stir in fresh berries, not jam. Comments? TYIA

  3. 5 stars
    is it possible to use tge tub of cream cheese, as I cannot find cream cheese in block where I live? The cake sounds wonderful!

    1. Hi there, it would be an experiment. Since the consistency is so much softer than with a block of cream cheese, the texture of the cake may be effected although I can't say how much. The same would be true for the frosting-- likely a much softer consistency although we haven't tried it. If you ever test it, we would love to hear how it goes!

  4. I am hoping to make this in advance. Can I freeze my cake layers until I need them. It would be a week

    1. Hi Leslie! Yes, these layers will freeze just fine! I'm pasting our method below:

      Once the cake layers have cooled down to warm (or room temperature), wrap each layer tightly in plastic wrap followed by foil. Freeze for up to three months.

      To thaw, move the wrapped layers to the kitchen counter. Unwrap after about 30-45 minutes and continue to thaw to desired temperature for decorating.