This lemon berry mascarpone cake has 3 layers of light and delicate lemon cake filled with fresh mixed berries and frosted with fluffy, creamy mascarpone buttercream. It's elegant, easy to make, and bursting with citrus and berry flavor.
This gorgeous cake combines tangy lemon with sweet, juicy mixed berries. It has 3 layers of moist and fluffy sponge cake (thanks to the reverse creaming method) layered with creamy, velvety mascarpone cheese frosting.
This cake isn't just a treat for your taste buds- it's a feast for the eyes too! The burst of color and freshness from the berries makes this cake the star of the show at any gathering or celebration. Everyone will be so impressed when you present this beautiful cake as the centerpiece of your dessert table!
Here are some notes about the ingredients used. For quantities and full instructions, see the recipe card below.
- Sugar- Granulated white sugar adds sweetness, retains moisture, and lets the lemon flavor shine.
- Lemon zest- Lemon zest (the outer layer of the lemon peel) has concentrated oils that add a tangy flavor and fragrance.
- Cake flour- Cake flour is crucial for getting a light, fluffy, tender crumb. It has less protein and gluten than all-purpose flour, which makes it perfect for achieving the right texture.
- Baking powder and baking soda- Together, these leavening agents help the cake rise and create a light, fluffy texture. Baking powder reacts with moisture and heat while baking soda reacts with acidic components of the batter to release gases and make the cake rise.
- Salt- Finely ground salt enhances other flavors in the mascarpone cake and makes it not too sweet.
- Butter- Unsalted butter is key for creating a rich and fluffy cake and frosting. Make sure it's room temperature so it mixes in easily. It should be cool to the touch and easy to indent with your finger.
- Oil- Adding vegetable oil to your cake makes it extra moist and delicious. To get the perfect texture, I recommend using both butter and oil. Butter alone can make the cake a bit stiff, and using oil alone can make it too spongy. The best solution is to use both!
- Eggs- Three eggs bind the ingredients together, help the cake rise, and add richness. Make sure they're room temperature so they mix in easily.
- Vanilla- Vanilla extract rounds out the flavor profile of the sponge and frosting.
- Buttermilk- The acid in buttermilk reacts with baking soda, creating air bubbles that help the cake rise and get light and fluffy. Additionally, buttermilk helps to tenderize the gluten, making the cake soft and moist.
- Lemon juice- This adds a bright and tangy flavor that complements the sweetness of the cake and the tartness of the berries. Make sure it's fresh and not bottled for the best flavor.
- Berries- Use a variety of fresh berries for the filling, like strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries.
- Mascarpone- Mascarpone is a creamy, soft Italian cheese with a mild, slightly sweet flavor. It has a smooth and silky texture, similar to cream cheese, but with lower acidity and more fat. Mascarpone adds a rich, creamy, and luxurious flavor and texture to the frosting.
- Powdered sugar- Powdered sugar sweetens the frosting and adds structure.
- Cake flour: Don't substitute the cake flour with all purpose flour. You can make a cake flour substitute if needed.
- Sugar: Cane sugar and caster sugar can be used as substitutes.
- Oil: Use any neutral tasting oil you have, like vegetable, grapeseed, avocado, or canola oil.
- Berries: You can use any berries you want, like currants, cranberries, mulberries, huckleberries, etc.
- Mascarpone: If you don't like mascarpone, you make cream cheese frosting instead. You can also make a vanilla buttercream or Swiss meringue buttercream instead.
Helpful Equipment and Tools
- Don't use glass or silicone pans because they don't heat up evenly and can burn your cake. Instead, go for 6 inch round metal pans.
- It's best to use non-stick pans if you have them. But, if not, make sure to spray them with baking spray before lining with parchment paper rounds.
- A 5-quart stand mixer with a paddle attachment is perfect for mixing the cake batter.
- To make your cake look gorgeous, you'll need an offset spatula for decorating. A bench scraper is also useful for smoothing everything out.
- If you want to take your cake decorating skills to the next level, consider getting a revolving cake decorating stand with a non-slip pad. It makes applying frosting and decorations evenly to the sides and top of the cake super easy.
Step by Step Instructions
Here is how to make the lemon berry mascarpone cake! Before you start, preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C and line 3 6-inch round pans with parchment paper.
STEP 1: First, pour the lemon zest into a bowl of sugar and rub together. This helps the lemon zest release its oils. Then pour the cake flour, lemon sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Give the ingredients a mix on low.
STEP 2: Use the reverse creaming method to incorporate the butter into the dry ingredients. Add the softened butter to the mixing bowl and beat on low until the texture becomes sandy. This step should take about 5 minutes. This technique prevents gluten formation to create a soft, fluffy cake.
STEP 3: Turn off the mixer and add the oil, eggs, and vanilla extract to the bowl. Mix on low until a batter starts to come together. Gradually pour in the buttermilk and lemon juice as the mixer runs on low, mixing until the batter is smooth with no lumps.
STEP 4: Divide the cake batter between your 3 pans and bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean with a few moist crumbs. Let the cakes cool in their pans for 20 minutes, then remove them and let them cool to room temperature on a wire cooling rack.
STEP 5: While the cakes cool, prepare your berry filling by washing, drying, and chopping the fresh berries of your choice. Toss them together in a mixing bowl.
STEP 6: After the filling is prepared, make the mascarpone buttercream. Place softened butter and mascarpone cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment and cream them together on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Then, mix in the vanilla on low.
STEP 7: With the mixer on low, beat in the powdered sugar 1 cup at a time until fluffy and well combined. Keep mixing for about 5-7 minutes until the frosting is sweet and no longer tastes like butter.
Once the frosting is done, scoop half of it into a piping bag prepared with a large round tip and set aside.
STEP 8: Now it's time to assemble the cake! First, check to make sure your layers are flat and level them with a serrated knife if needed. Next, add a tablespoon of frosting to the middle of your cake stand or board and fan it out. This is the glue that'll keep the cake from sliding around.
Next, place one cake layer in the middle and spread a thin layer of frosting on top. Then, pipe a thick ring of buttercream around the edge and scoop the berry filling inside of it.
STEP 9: Repeat Step 8 with the second cake layer and then place the final layer on top upside down with the flat side facing up. Gently press down with your hands to remove any air bubbles.
Apply a thin layer of frosting all over the cake, using your offset spatula or bench scraper to smooth it out. This is called the "crumb coat" and helps to lock in crumbs so they don't mix with the final layer of frosting. You can leave the cake like this for a semi-naked look or you can add another layer of frosting after chilling the cake in the freezer for 20 minutes.
STEP 10: Apply a final layer of frosting if desired and add berries on top of the cake as a garnish. You can pipe a boarder around the cake with extra buttercream if desired and add any decorations you like. Slice and enjoy!
Expert Baking Tips
- Don't overmix. Avoid overmixing the batter, which can make the cake tough and dense.
- Use room temperature ingredients. Let the eggs, butter, buttermilk, and mascarpone reach room temperature before using them so they mix in easily and evenly.
- Use a kitchen scale. Weighing ingredients in grams instead of using measuring cups ensures accuracy and consistent results.
- Don't overbake the cake. Check on it a few minutes before the suggested baking time as oven temperatures can vary. The cake is done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few sticky crumbs and no wet batter.
- Chill the cake before decorating to make it easier to handle and prevent frosting from melting.
Additions and Variations
If you're looking to add more flavor or texture to your lemon berry cake, here are some ingredients you might want to add:
- Nuts, such as chopped almonds or hazelnuts for crunch and nuttiness.
- Poppy seeds, which pair well with lemon and add a little crunch to the cake.
- Coconut flakes or shredded coconut, which add a tropical flavor and chewy texture.
- Chocolate chips or chunks, for a touch of chocolatey goodness.
- Spices, such as cinnamon or cardamom, for warmth and depth of flavor.
- Liquors, such as limoncello or Grand Marnier, for an adult twist on the cake. Try no to overdo it!
Storage and Freezing
Your frosted cake will keep in the fridge for up to 5 days since the frosting seals in moisture. To keep it fresh, I recommend storing it in a cake carrier or other airtight container. If you've already sliced into it, cover the cut section with some extra frosting so it doesn't dry out. Remove the berries from the top of the cake and store them in a separate container.
Store leftover frosting in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week. When you're ready to use it, give it a quick stir to soften it.
Slices of cake can be frozen for up to 3 months. Simply wrap the leftovers in plastic wrap and freeze them in an airtight, freezer-safe container. When you're ready to enjoy, let a slice thaw on the counter for about 1 hour.
I don't recommend freezing the entire frosted, unsliced cake with berries on top. However, you can freeze the cake layers ahead of time to break up the baking and decorating processes.
Leftover frosting can be frozen for up to 3 months in a sealed container too. Make sure to thaw it overnight in the refrigerator and give it a good mix before you use it. Also be aware the texture might change after it's frozen.
Frequently Asked Questions
I don't recommend using frozen berries because they tend to get soggy once they're thawed out. The extra moisture can make the cake wet and soggy too.
Yes! You can use 2 6-inch round pans, 2 8-inch round pans, or a 9x13" pan to make a sheet cake.
Yes! The frosting is stable and will hold up while serving for up to 2 hours. Don't place it in direct sunlight since the frosting could melt, and definitely store leftovers in the refrigerator.
You can, but the cupcakes might be a little dense.
More Cake Recipes to Try
Lemon Berry Mascarpone Cake
- 300 grams granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoon lemon zest
- 300 grams cake flour
- 1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ⅜ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 113 grams unsalted butter softened
- 113 grams vegetable oil
- 3 large eggs room temperature
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 120 grams buttermilk room temperature
- 120 grams lemon juice
- 226 grams mascarpone cheese room temperature
- 113 grams unsalted butter softened
- 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 400 g powdered sugar
- 160 grams chopped strawberries
- 160 grams chopped raspberries
- 160 grams chopped blackberries
- 160 grams blueberries
- Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C. Line 3 6-inch cake pans with parchment rounds and set aside.
- In a medium bowl, rub the sugar and lemon zest together with your fingers.300 grams granulated sugar, 3 tablespoon lemon zest
- Pour the lemon sugar, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Mix until combined.300 grams cake flour, 1 ½ teaspoon baking powder, ⅜ teaspoon baking soda, ½ teaspoon salt
- Mix in the softened butter until it looks like wet sand.113 grams unsalted butter
- Add the oil, eggs, and vanilla extract to the bowl. Mix on low until a batter starts to come together.113 grams vegetable oil, 3 large eggs, 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- Mix in the buttermilk and lemon juice on low until the batter is smooth and well combined.120 grams buttermilk, 120 grams lemon juice
- Distribute the batter between the 3 prepared pans.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cakes cool in the pans for 20 minutes, then flip onto a wire cooling rack and let cool completely.
- In a mixing bowl, beat the mascarpone with softened butter until creamy.226 grams mascarpone cheese, 113 grams unsalted butter
- Mix in the vanilla and then the powdered sugar 1 cup at a time on low speed until smooth with no lumps.2 teaspoon vanilla extract, 400 g powdered sugar
- Gently toss the strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries together in a large bowl.160 grams chopped strawberries, 160 grams chopped raspberries, 160 grams chopped blackberries, 160 grams blueberries
- Level the tops of the cakes with a serrated knife if needed.
- Place one layer on a cake stand or cardboard round. Evenly spread a thin layer of frosting across the top.
- Pipe a ring of frosting around the edge.
- Fill the center with ⅓ cup of berries spreading them to the buttercream boarder.
- Continue layering the same way with the second layer.
- Place the last layer upside-down so the top is flat.
- Cover the sides and top of the cake with a thin layer of buttercream, or "crumb coat".
- Once the crumb coat is applied, chill the cake in the freezer for 20 minutes.
- Apply a final thick layer of frosting to the sides and top of the cake. Garnish with fresh berries and enjoy.
- Measure your flour correctly. Do this by weighing it in grams with a kitchen scale. If you don't have a scale, fluff up the flour first and then spoon it into your measuring cup.
- Check on the cake a few minutes before the suggested baking time as oven temperatures can vary. It's done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Chill the cake before decorating to make it easier to handle and prevent frosting from melting.