Food / Recipes

Recipe: Lemon Raspberry Cake with Mascarpone Buttercream Frosting

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I have a confession to make: I don’t generally like lemon desserts.

Give me your creamy, your chocolate, your vanilla-based confections – I’ll take anything soft, buttery, and caramelized. Lemon can so often overpower, it vanquishes all other flavor, from cheesecakes to sugar cookies. Bleh.

But not this time.

A few weeks ago, my friend Danny came to me with a deal: he’ll do my taxes for me (an odorous affair) in exchange for an anniversary cake for his wife. He wanted a mock wedding cake, with lemon on the bottom and chocolate on the top. Now, chocolate – I got that covered. A nice dark cocoa buttermilk cake would do. But lemon? I had no idea what would taste good.

Thankfully, I found a recipe that seemed easy enough, tinkered with it slightly, and what came out of the oven was both beautiful and lovely-smelling. I had never been so enticed by a lemon sponge before. I had to make it again – this time for myself and some friends.

This is a lemon cake for people who think they don’t like lemon cakes. It’s light, moist, and airy, and has just the perfect amount of citrus flavor so as not to overpower the rest of the ingredients. The mascarpone gives it an edge of creamy sweetness, while the fresh raspberries brighten the look and overall flavor. Sansa Stark would approve.

Ingredients:

      Cake:

  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 1 TB baking powder
  • 1/2 TSP salt
  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 cup sugar
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 1 stick of unsalted butter, sliced and room temperature
  • Juice of a half lemon
  • 1 TSP clear vanilla extract

      Frosting + decoration:

  • 1 cup mascarpone cheese, room temperature
  • 1 stick of unsalted butter, sliced and room temperature
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 TB clear vanilla extract
  • 1 TB dairy liquid (either milk, buttermilk, cream, or half-and-half)
  • 1 package of raspberries

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter and flour two 8-inch round pans, then line with parchment paper and butter the parchment.

Sift together the cake flour, baking powder, and salt in a mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the buttermilk and egg whites.

Add the sugar and lemon zest to the bowl of your standing mixer, then use the paddle attachment to fold them together. Cream the butter into the sugar until fluffy (about 3 minutes on medium.) Add the lemon juice and vanilla extract, and blend them in thoroughly.

Take turns adding in the wet and dry ingredients, while continuing to beat on medium. (Try pouring in a third of each at a time.) Beat for an additional 2 minutes until the mixture is smooth. Divide the batter evenly between your cake pans and bake for about 15-20 minutes. (Start checking it at 15.) They should be a very light golden color when you remove the pans, and any toothpick you insert into the centers should come out clean.

Place the cakes on a cooling rack. After 10 minutes, remove them from the pans and invert onto the rack. They should be completely cool when you decorate.

While the cakes are cooling, start the frosting. In the bowl of your standing mix, add the mascarpone and butter slices. Cream on the highest speed until fluffy. Add the powdered sugar a half a cup at a time, beating on the highest speed at each interval. (This will ensure the mixture is airy and creamy.) When you’ve completed adding the sugar, pour in the vanilla extract and your dairy liquid (I used buttermilk this time.) Continue to beat on high until completely combined. It will be a beautiful off-white color.

Frost the completely-cooled bottom layer, then add the second layer and frost the top and sides. Place the raspberries (point facing up) on the top of the cake and decorate as you wish!

Serve at room temperature.

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