July 6th, 2010

Lemon Raspberry Torte


The cake lady is at it again! Here is yet another, in the unfolding series of birthday cakes for family members enjoying those special zero-year milestones….

…and this one, made for my brother-in-law, Ted’s 50th, is tangy beyond measure, thanks to the rhapsodic pairing of lemons and raspberries.

Tart, cooling…It’s a summery dessert, to be sure. Lemons and raspberries each have assertive, zingy notes that don’t require a load of sugar to sing. And, really, who wants the burden of sticky-sweet, especially in hot weather?

The cake batter has lots of lemon juice and zest, and plain lowfat yogurt lends rich body without heaviness. The cream cheese-buttercream icing, flecked with lemon zest, takes on a pretty, light yellow hue. The raspberry filling is simple to make, divine sitting on top of the icing, as well as over some vanilla ice cream, should you decide to make extra.


The recipe that I’ve given you will make 2 9″ layers, or fill a bundt pan, if you’d like to make a simple glazed lemon bundt cake.

Because there were close to 50 guests at his party, I doubled the recipe to make the 3 10″ layers for Ted’s cake. And, because his party was held at their country home close to 50 miles from my house, I assembled the cake in my kitchen, and put on the finishing touches once I delivered the cake to my sister’s kitchen.


With heat and humidity being factors, Summertime Cakes have their distinct challenges, especially when a 50 mile drive is involved. But, a trip across town can be just as risky!

One of my first Big Summertime Cake endeavors, (over 25 years ago!) involved a multi-tiered orange-scented spongecake for a wedding. It was an ambitious effort, with each layer having a different filling: chocolate, apricot cream, strawberry-vanilla. The bottom tiers were stacked; the top tier was to be supported by three crystal glasses. Peach tea roses and small clumps of white hydrangea would adorn the cake.

The wedding was held outside at nearby home, on the absolutely hottest, most sultry, dripping August evening. Working at home, in and out of the refrigerator–and a chest freezer I had at the time–I filled and iced the layers, stacking the 14″ and 10″ rounds (and securing them with dowels pushed through the layers) , leaving the 7″ topper separate.

My car at the time was a 1963 Valiant convertible (no a/c, needless to say)—a most improbable vehicle for transporting wedding cakes. I had the sizeable base propped on the backseat, the topper on the front floorboard, and somehow managed to make a safe delivery. The site was only 2 miles away—but felt like 20!

That hurdle crossed, I then assembled the cake in the foyer where it was to be served. I piped simple borders to unite the layers, balanced the top tier on the three crystal cordials, garnished with fresh flowers, and took a deep breath. Success!

But the a/c was not cooling the foyer effectively. So, the host decided that the cake should be moved into the dining room with the other food. Two men in linen suits gingerly shifted the cake across the hallway and onto the dining room sideboard. Phew. Success, again.

Post-backyard-ceremony, the wedding party and guests came into the house, sweat-drenched and delirious. Champagne and heat had gone to everyone’s head. After partaking of more bubbly and the dinner buffet, the host decided that the cake would be more dramatic if it were cut and served from the round table in the foyer as originally conceived.


Our two linen-suited men stepped in, once again, to make the move. It all happened so fast. I remember hearing a groan and then seeing a creamy-white form fly across the room, a spray of flowers and greenery, followed by the crashing of three little crystals….


To be fair, It did supply the Drama. I must report that all was not lost—it was the topper that went sailing. The base layers–the majority of the cake–were undamaged, mostly. And still quite delicious.

2-3 Lemons—2T. Lemon Zest and ½ cup Lemon Juice
1 ½ sticks soft Butter
1 ½ cups Sugar
4 Eggs
1 cup Plain Lowfat Yogurt
3 cups All-Purpose Flour
2 t. Baking Powder
½ t. Baking Soda
½ t. Salt

Sift dry ingredients together in a separate bowl. Cream butter and sugar together, add juice, yogurt, zest. Then add eggs, one at a time. Add dry ingredients. Pour into 2 9″ cake pans that have been coated with baking spray.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Cool on rack before removing.

1 1/2 cups Raspberries, or Mixed Berries, rinsed
1/4 cup Water
1/2 cup Sugar

Place a saucepan on medium heat and add berries, water, sugar. Stir until dissolved. Cook the mixture for 15 minutes, occasionally stirring. The berries will break down, releasing their juices, and a sauce will begin to get a glaze and thicken.

1 lb. Cream Cheese, softened
1 stick Unsalted Butter, softened
1-2 Lemons, for Zest and Juice
1 1/2 cups Confectioners Sugar

In a mixer, cream together the softened butter and cream cheese. Add the juice and zest of the lemons and mix well. Add confectioners sugar and beat until well incorporated. Taste for sweetness—and tartness—and adjust.



With cool but workable icing, put a “skim-coat” on your first layer. If your kitchen is warm, put the iced layer in the refrigerator for 10 minutes to set up. Then, spoon your raspberry filling on top. Spread it across–but not to the edge. You don’t want the raspberry to bleed through. Place the next layer on top and skim coat it.

Again, let that set up in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes. (30 minutes is better!)

Ice the cake in its entirety. Pipe with simple bordering, stars, and decorate with fresh berries, and a little reserve of raspberry filling. Lemon basil leaves make a nice garnish, too.

Just don’t move it more than twice.


Posted in Desserts, Recipes

25 Responses to “Lemon Raspberry Torte”
  1. Kelli Says:

    I can’t wait to try this! Last year for my first wedding anniversary, I re-created our wedding cake (chocolate w/ raspberry filling) for my husband. He’s requested the same this year, but now I’m thinking I might try to talk him into the lemon instead. And even if he wants chocolate I can still combine your raspberry filling with your chocolate zucotta cake… yum!

  2. Cristie Says:

    What a cake! It looks amazing (what a heart stopper to have anything flying or sliding off a wedding cake . . .) and from the list of ingredients it sounds like it tastes fabulous. Can’t wait to give this a try. I’ll leave it somewhere close to serve it or at least take your advise seriously about not moving it more than twice :)

  3. Allison Wright Says:

    Great story, I was on the edge of my seat! The cake looks tasty too :-)

  4. goodfoodmatters Says:

    Kelli—either way, you can’t lose!

  5. Denise | Chez Danisse Says:

    Great story and such an amazing cake! I rarely make cake. I certainly like cake, I guess I just don’t think of it often because we are a family of 2. I did make a cheesecake for my brothers graduation. I recall taking a cake decorating class when I was 11 or 12 years old with my sister and cousin, but I cannot recall one thing about it. Very strange. My memory usually serves me well. Anyway, your cake is gorgeous and now I really want a slice of cake.

  6. Judy Says:

    This looks beyond divine. Nance, you’ve outdone yourself!

  7. FOODESSA Says:

    You are truly a prized adventurous baker. I still have my hand on chest since having read the unfortunate cake drama at the wedding. The cake flavours sounded amazing. Any chance you have that recipe written in cyber world anywhere?

    Nancy you certainly got my full attention on this stunning cake. Lemon and raspberries baked in just right into that perfect cake of yours.
    I will certainly have to bookmark this one for later.

    Nancy…your posts are part of those which I really look forward to reading. Thank you very much for enlightening and amusing me at the same time ;o)

    Have a fantastic week and flavourful wishes,

  8. Barbara Says:

    Wow Nance–you truly out did yourself on this one!!! The folks out here have never seen such a beautiful cake, let alone taste such a delight–it was all wonderful. Hubby Ted was humbled by the whole affair. and had a great time. This was a party that the folks on “Piney” will never forget. I do not believe anyone here has ever eaten this well their entire life. Your catering plus “The Gypsy Hombres” made this 5oth birthday party the biggest success event we ever put on. Thank you again big sister!! You are an amazing woman who I admire and love so much!!!

  9. heather Says:

    Great story Nancy! I love it that you make me laugh, you are a wonderful storyteller.

  10. Mary Says:

    What an exquisite looking cake. I love the recipe you’ve provided for us and have it bookmarked for future use. The story about the wedding cake was funny seen through the prism of time. I can, however, imagine how you felt when it actually happened. I hope you are having a great day. Blessings…Mary

  11. Denise | Chez Danisse Says:

    I made a cake! Granted it is a very simple cake and doesn’t come close to your masterpiece. It is tasty.

  12. goodfoodmatters Says:

    Brava Denise! Now, I shall hurry over to your blog to read about it!

  13. foodonfifth.com, Teresa Blackburn Says:

    Beautiful cake, many steps, I am ordering my next cake from Nancy’s Bakery! You make the best looking and tasting cakes in the world and what lucky relatives! T

  14. Baking Serendipity Says:

    This cake looks beautiful and I am sure it tastes fantastic too. I love the lemon and raspberry flavor combination. Thanks for stopping by my blog and leading me here :)

  15. Michele Napoli Says:

    Love the story, and what a fabulous looking cake. Yum.

  16. rachel Says:

    The cake lady strikes again – a possible title for your book I think. I love your magnificant creations and stories. I once put my elbow in a wedding cake when I was a waitress, we rushed it to the kitchen and the chef then proceeded to make even more of a mess of it. We sneaked the cake back in, we were all red faced. None really noticed until they looked at the photos weeks later and lodged an official complaint.

  17. Christine @ Fresh Local and Best Says:

    Nancy, what a story!!! I have to tell you that I held my breath when I read through the paragraph about you transporting the wedding cake in your convertible. I exhaled in relief when I read that the cake made it, but boy what a feat that must have been to just get the cake two miles out.

    I should have known that you’re a cake professional. I adore the combination of flavors of this torte. And I absolutely enjoyed the way you wrote this story.

  18. Tammy Says:

    Oh Cake Goddess! I tell you that I will never even attempt such a fate but will be in awe of you always. Amazing pictures.

  19. my little expat kitchen Says:

    What an amazing cake! I’ve never made anything like that. Looks impressive. Raspberry and lemon, great combination.

  20. goodfoodmatters Says:

    Claudia—I would have to do some research to locate that long-ago recipe, circa 1982. It could have been in Gourmet or Bon Apetite—not sure! It would be worth trying to find, though.

    Rach-love the story of the elbow in the wedding cake. It seems that cakes–especially Important Ones—are the biggest targets for disaster.
    I’ve had my share!

    Tammy/Agri Girl–you make me laugh…

  21. Dana D Says:

    Lemon! My favorite! And a pang of nostalgia in reading about Teddy – a self professed “sane man in a crazy world”. I have been experimenting with lemon and non fat yogurt myself – but with a [recently purchased] Cusinart ice cream/frozen yogurt maker – having fun. Nance – when is that book coming out????

  22. Ingrid Says:

    This looks soooo good! Love the combo of raspberry and lemon!

  23. Ashley@thehungryscholar Says:

    This is the most beautiful cake I’ve seen on the blogs. I love raspberry and lemon…!

  24. Kelli Says:

    I made the raspberry filling this weekend for a chocolate cake. My husband agreed the real filling is a million times better than the store-bought stuff I used last time. (Confession: we ate an entire 2-layer cake in 24 hours)This week, going to make a “chesscake” version of your creation. Little pie-crust cupcake bottom w/ raspberry filling, lemon cake and lemon icing.

  25. goodfoodmatters Says:

    Kelli—thanks so much for the report—I bet that your little “chesscakes” will be Wonderful—-what a great idea!

    Ashley—such a compliment! thank you, and I appreciate your visit.

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