This cake is an ode to my mother and her love of lemon curd. First crafted for her birthday in July, the cake also features my favourite summer fruit and lemon’s ultimate ally – raspberries. The tartness of the fruit here lightens an otherwise entirely decadent premise and keeps greedy hands reaching back for more. I’ve now tested the cake on a number of audiences, and each time the slices disappear so swiftly that soon only stray crumbs, sticky hands and sated smiles remain.
The cake is made up of three elements: a light lemon sponge studded with raspberries, a sweet citrus curd, and a rich raspberry-ripple mascarpone filling. Ingredients and method for each element are found below. The recipe will make more lemon curd than you need, but it’s so delicious that it won’t be left languishing in your fridge for long. I love it swirled on porridge and yogurt, or simply spread on toast.
For the lemon curd (makes one large or two small jars):
- 4 unwaxed lemons, zest and juice
- 200g caster sugar
- 100g unsalted butter
- 3 free-range eggs, plus 1 free-range egg yolk
For the cake:
- 225g unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 225g caster sugar
- Zest of 2 lemons
- 4 free range eggs, at room temperature (this allows for more air to be whisked in)
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 225g self-raising flour, sifted
- 1 tablespoon milk
- 100g raspberries
For the raspberry and mascarpone icing:
- 100g raspberries
- 70g mascarpone
- 25g unsalted butter
- 150g icing sugar
2 x roughly 20.5 sandwich tins
- Begin by making the lemon curd. Put the lemon zest and juice, the sugar and the butter into a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl is not touching the water. Stir until all of the butter has melted.
- Lightly whisk the eggs and egg yolk, then whisk into the lemon mixture until all the ingredients are well combined. Leave to cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring every now and then, until the mixture is creamy and thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
- Remove from the heat and strain through a sieve to remove any solid pieces. Once cooled, spoon into sterilised jars and store in the fridge.
- For the sponge cake, preheat the oven to 180c. Grease and line the two sandwich tins.
- Put the butter into a mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy. Gradually beat in the sugar and lemon zest, then keep on beating for 3-4 minutes until the mixture turns almost white and becomes very fluffy.
- Break the eggs into a small bowl, add the vanilla and beat lightly with a fork to break them up. Slowly add to the creamed mixture, a tablespoonful at a time, giving the mixture a good beating after each addition and frequently scraping down the bowl. If the mixture looks like it is about to curdle, add a tablespoon of the sifted flour and continue adding the last portions of egg.
- Sift the flour again, this time onto the mixture, and add the milk. Use a large metal spoon to fold the flour into the egg mixture until no streaks of flour are visible. Do this as lightly as possible so you don’t knock out any of the air you have beaten in.
- Divide the mixture equally between the two tins and spread evenly, right to the edges. Sprinkle two thirds of the raspberries on top and press down lightly until they are almost covered by the mixture.
- Bake for 25 minutes. After 15 minutes, open the oven and quickly dot the remaining raspberries in a pretty pattern on one sponge – this will be the top layer. Continue baking for the final 10 minutes or until the sponges are golden brown and springy when gently pressed with your finger.
- Remove from the oven and leave for a minute, then run a round bladed knife around the inside into each tin and turn out onto a wire rack to cool. The top of the cake will need to be cooled right-side (that is, visible raspberry side) up.
- Beat the unsalted butter with an electric mixer until creamy. Sift in the icing sugar and beat until well incorporated. I like to place a clean tea towel over my hand and the bowl to stop icing sugar coating the kitchen!
- Add the mascarpone and continue beating for a few minutes until the mixture is light and fluffy.
- Gently fold in the raspberries, crushing some of them with the back of the spoon, until you have a ripple effect.
- Set the bottom sponge on a serving platter. Spread on the mascarpone icing and then the lemon curd. Carefully place the other sponge, raspberries up, on top and dust with icing sugar.
- Serve and enjoy.