As much as I love elaborate cake designs...
...sometimes there’s no beating the simple ones! This cake is probably one of the easiest recipes I’ve ever posted both in baking process and design, but I still loved the design when it was done!
Lemon-raspberry cake layers frosted with cream cheese buttercream, topped with a candy melt drip, lemon slices, and a sprinkle of freeze-dried raspberries! Recipes below!
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Lemon Raspberry Cake Layers:
First note – you have options here!
You can sub in your favorite lemon cake recipe, you can use my Favorite Vanilla Cake recipe and sub the vanilla extract out for lemon and add some lemon zest, OR – you can you can do what I did and ‘bakery-level-up’ a couple of boxed cake mixes!
To make the cake layers in the pictures, I used
- 2 lemon cake mixes
- to make them taste richer, I replaced the combined 1 cup of oil the mixes called for with 1 cup unsalted butter (or 2 sticks, melted & cooled)
- total of 7 eggs,
- replaced the 2 cups of water with 2 cups of buttermilk, (room temperature) and
- 2 tablespoons of lemon extract and a tablespoon of lemon zest!
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line four 7 inch pans (for taller layers) or three 8-inch cake pans with parchment rounds, and /or grease with non-stick or baker’s floured cooking spray.
Mix together all wet ingredients (butter, eggs, buttermilk, and lemon extract) in a large bowl with a wire whisk. Blend in cake mixes for 30 seconds, and then beat with a wire whisk or hand mixes for 2 minutes until well combined.
Divide batter evenly between the prepared cake pans (I find a kitchen scale helpful for this part). This guarantees your layers will bake to be the same height.
Bake for 35-37 minutes if using 8-inch pans, or 37-38 minutes for 7-inch cake pans (or until a toothpick comes out clean). Allow cake layers to cool for 10-15 minutes on a wire cooling rack before removing from pans – it helps to run an offset spatula or knife around the perimeter of the pan first. Cool completely before frosting. Set in the fridge or freezer to accelerate the cooling process if desired.
Once the layers have fully cooled, the caramelized bits can be trimmed from the sides / top of the cake using a serrated knife if desired. Be sure the layers are completely cooled or chilled before trimming. If you try to trim the layers while they’re still warm, they will crumble apart.
Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting:
8 oz (one package) cream cheese, softened
16 Tablespoons (two sticks) butter, softened
6-7 c powdered sugar
2-4 Tablespoons milk
1 T clear vanilla extract
1/4 t. salt (if using unsalted butter)
Beat together softened cream cheese and butter; slowly add in powdered sugar alternating with milk until frosting reaches desired consistency. Add vanilla and salt if needed and beat until well combined.
- 1 8- or 10 -inch cardboard cake circle (I prefer Wilton’s center-punched circles)
- squeeze bottle or piping bag for the cake drip (you can also use a spoon if you’d rather)
- Cake leveler, cake turntable, large offset spatula, and pastry cutter/bench scraper - not all 100% necessary but incredibly helpful! (Here’s a link to the cake turntable I use)
- 2-3 small lemons
- Freeze-dried raspberries (I used these – available on Amazon – and loved them!)
- Small offset spatula to smooth the cake drip on top of the cake
Once your cakes are cool, level them (if needed/desired). This can be done with a cake leveler or a large serrated knife and a ruler.
Place a smear of frosting on your cake circle (to keep the cake from sliding while you decorate it) and center your first cake layer in the center of the circle. Spread the layer with frosting.
Add your next cake layer on top, and repeat the process with your remaining cake layers.
Now you're ready to crumb-coat . If you're unfamiliar with crumb-coating, it's just what it sounds like – spreading a thin layer of frosting over the entire outside of the cake to keep crumbs out of your final layer.
Once your crumb coat has set (this takes about 5-10 minutes in the fridge), add your final layer of frosting and smooth. I like to use an offset spatula and bench scraper for this part, and I made the frosting layer thin enough to let the cake layers show through a bit for a ‘semi-naked’ cake style.
Once your cake is covered, place it into the fridge or freezer to set the frosting.
This is a great time to make your candy melt drip(s)!
Candy Melt Drip:
- 6 oz white candy melts (I use the Wilton brand Bright White)
- 3 ¾ Tablespoons heavy whipping cream (the brand I usually use comes from Costco and is incredibly thick; you may need a bit less depending on the thickness of your heavy cream!)
(This recipe is very similar to my favorite white chocolate ganache recipe – you’re basically using candy melts instead of white chocolate to make a very similar drip ganache. I prefer this drip when I want bright colors that aren’t tinted yellow from the white chocolate!)
Place heavy cream and candy melts in a microwave-safe bowl, and microwave on 50% power in 30-second intervals until smooth, stirring in between.
I usually find a squeeze bottle or piping bag work the best for this drip when you first start working with it, but I also sometimes use a spoon!
When your candy melt mix has cooled to a moderate temperature – it should feel slightly warm and still be fairly liquid – transfer it to a squeeze bottle or piping or small ziplock bag – or get your spoon ready!
Slowly drizzle candy melt ganache around the upper edge of your cake, pausing every inch or so to let more fall in a drip down the side of the cake. Pour some of the remaining candy melt mix over the cake, and smooth any gaps or bumpy spots with a small offset spatula. Place the cake into the refrigerator to set the drips!
Cut 3-4 lemon slices and make a small cut to the center of the slice so you can open it up into a lemon ‘twist’ to top the cake. Arrange these on top of the cake, sprinkling on a few more freeze-dried raspberries in whatever pattern you’d like!
And you’re done! Cut in and enjoy!