Summertime is the best time of the year to enjoy a light cake with citrus notes that’s covered in a creamy and light mascarpone frosting and piled high with fresh berries! Although this isn’t a sponge cake, this cake is moist and it’s perfectly paired with the frosting and macerated fresh berries.
I made this cake for our 4th of July celebration and the south Florida heat index was off the charts. The frosting was melting off the cake! You would think I was in the famous British Bake Off tent! This is a cake to be enjoyed on a sunny day when the weather is warm, but not an inferno.
INGREDIENTS YOU’LL NEED
For best results, check the expiration date on your ingredients, make sure all the ingredients are at room temperature before you start mixing and have everything measured and ready to go so the whole process goes quicker and smoothly.
Measuring your flour – flour compacts as it sits. That’s why some recipes call to sift the flour first. I rarely sift the flour before measuring; instead, I loosen the flour in the container. Ina Garten keeps her flour in a beautiful glass container on her kitchen counter. Glass is heavy. I keep my flour in a large plastic container in the pantry. It’s easy for me to grab the container and shake it a few times to loosen the flour. Then I use a spoon to add flour into the measuring cup and level off using the back of a knife. The excess flour drops back into the container. This is the best way to measure flour when using measuring cups. The foolproof way is using a scale.
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (loosen flour, spoon & measure, level off with a knife) plus a tablespoon for the berries
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt (prefer Diamond kosher salt)
3 egg whites (I used Eggland’s Best extra large eggs)
1/2 cup whole milk, warm
1/2 cup full fat sour cream
1 1/4 stick of unsalted butter, room temperature or melted & cooled
3 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice and the zest of three large lemons (zest first, then juice the lemons)
1 Tablespoon pure vanilla paste or extract
6 ounces blueberries & 6 ounces raspberries or your favorite berry combination
Mascarpone Cream Cheese Frosting
1 8-ounce block American cream cheese, room temperature
1 8-ounce container mascarpone cream cheese
4 cups confectioner’s sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla paste or extract
zest 1 large lemon
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar (used to stabilize whipped cream – if you don’t have, leave out)
Decorate the cake with extra fresh berries – strawberries, blackberries, blueberries and raspberries. I like to coat them in a little sugar and dash of vanilla extract.
LET’S MAKE THE CAKE
Preheat the oven to 350°F and position the oven rack in the middle. Grease and flour three 6-inch cake rounds and line the bottom of each tin with a parchment round and set it aside.
Note: If you don’t have pre-purchased parchment cake rounds, simply place the cake tin on the parchment, run a pencil around the tin and cut inside the pencil mark. Place in the cake tin, pencil mark side down.
I started to use a stand alone mixer, but ended up using the bowl. Since you don’t need to cream the butter or eggs, a whisk and a few bowls is all you need. In the first mixing bowl, add the sugar and salt, then sift the flour and baking powder directly into the bowl. Stir with a whisk to evenly distribute all the ingredients and set aside.
In the second bowl, whisk the eggs whites a bit, about 30 seconds, just to loosen them up. Add the warm milk, sour cream, vanilla paste and lemon juice. Whisk to combine.
Whisk the butter with the other wet ingredients. Since the butter isn’t liquid, the texture will be similar to cottage cheese. These tiny pieces of butter will disappear into the cake while baking. Add the lemon zest and evenly distribute before adding to the dry ingredients.
Note: When zesting, only zest the outer peel and not the white pith. The pith is bitter and can ruin your cake.
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry. Don’t leave anything behind in the mixing bowl, use the spatula and scrape the bowl clean! Fold the ingredients until combined. Right before adding the berries to the batter, toss them in a small bowl with the tablespoon of flour. This will help evenly distribute them in the cake and prevent them from all sinking to the bottom. add the berries and fold them into the batter. Make sure the batter is well combined and there are no flour streaks throughout. Don’t over mix or you’ll develop the gluten in the flour and that results in a tough cake.
Divide the batter evenly among the three prepared cake tins and tap on the counter once to remove any air bubbles. Bake in the preheated oven 350°F for 25-30 minutes or until lightly golden, as shown. You can check for doneness by inserting a toothpick in the center. If it comes out clean, the cakes are done.
Note: Remember each oven is different and older ovens can have hot spots, so always keep an eye on your bakes.
When the cake is baking, make the frosting and macerate the berries. I macerated the berries with about tablespoon of sugar or so and a dash of vanilla extract. Toss them to combine and set them on the counter until it’s time to assemble the cake. The berries release their juices and are coated in a delicious and flavorful light syrup. Fruit should always be shiny when placing on a baked good – at least that’s what Paul Hollywood says and he should know a thing or two on the subject.
Once the cakes are golden, allow to cool for 10 minutes in the tin, then invert over a cooling rack. Peel back the parchment paper and allow them to cool completely before assembling. You can cover them with a tea towel to prevent drying if you’re going to assemble a few hours later. If refrigerating, wrap in plastic wrap first.
MAKING THE MASCARPONE FROSTING
In a stand alone mixer, whip the American cream cheese for a few minutes so it’s nice and smooth. Add the cold mascarpone cream cheese, lemon zest and vanilla paste or extract and whip until incorporated. Add the powdered sugar one cup at a time until blended. When all the sugar has been blended, increase the speed and beat for a few minutes until light and fluffy. In a separate bowl with a hand held mixer, whip a cup of heaving whipping cream with the cream of tartar until light and fluffy. The cream of tartar will help stabilize the whipped cream, but if you don’t have it, you can leave it out.
Using a spatula, fold a third of the whipped cream to the cream cheese mixture. Repeat process until all the whipped cream has been combined. It’s important to add the whipped cream a little at a time as not to deflate the whipped cream. The goal is to keep it light and airy.
This frosting is not stiff like a buttercream frosting and has less sugar. It is soft and light and perfect for this cake, but it doesn’t stand up well in the heat. If you want a frosting with more structure, you can add more sugar – a cup at a time until it reaches the consistency you want.
Place the first cake layer on the cake stand and dollop enough frosting to spread to the edge. Repeat process, adding fresh dry fruit between the layers. Add extra frosting on the sides to cover any gaps then use a cake scraper to smooth the frosting around the sides. I didn’t want to frost the entire cake, I was going for a semi-naked cake. I had extra frosting, which can also double as a lush fruit dip or store in a freezer safe bag for the next time you have a crazing. You can drizzle this over a cinnamon roll, danishes, etc.
When you’re done frosting, pile on the macerated berries on top and serve! I love the combination of the sweet berries with the tangy cream cheese and the bright citrus notes from the lemons. Flavor combination made in heaven!
The cake is slightly adapted from Preppy Kitchen’s Lemon Blueberry Cake. The frosting is my own recipe, similar to my Brown Butter Mascarpone Cream Cheese Frosting. The next time I make this cake, I’ll use cake flour. Cake flour is made of soft wheat while all purpose flour is a combination of soft and hard wheat.
Lemon Berry Mascarpone Cake
All the citrus and berry flavors wrapped up in a moist cake with a delicious and light mascarpone cream cheese frosting. A delicious summertime treat! This is enough batter for three 6-inch cake rounds.
- 1 ¾ cups all purpose flour loosen flour, spoon & measure, level off with a knife
- 1 ¾ cups granulated sugar
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt prefer Diamond brand
- 3 egg whites
- ½ cup whole milk, warm
- ½ cup sour cream, full fat
- 1 ¼ stick unsalted butter, room temperature or melted & cooled
- zest of three large lemons zest first, juice after
- 3 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 Tablespoon pure vanilla paste or extract paste has all the bean specks
- 6 ounces each of blueberries & raspberries or your favorite combination make sure they are dry and not mushy or wet
MASCARPONE CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
- 1 8-ounce block American cream cheese, room temperature
- 1 8-ounce container Mascarpone cream cheese, cold keep refrigerated until use, or it can split
- 4 cups confectioner's sugar (powdered sugar)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla paste or extract
- zest of 1 lemon
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
MASCERATED BERRY GARNISH
- A combination of strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and blueberries enough to pile high on the cake
- sprinkle with granulated sugar
- a dash of vanilla paste or extract
Preheat oven to 350°F and place the oven rack in the center position. Grease, flour and line three 6-inch round baking tins and set aside.
LEMON BERRY CAKE LAYERS
In a large mixing bowl, add the sugar and salt, then sift the flour and baking powder directly into the bowl. Stir with a whisk to evenly distribute all the ingredients and set aside.
In another bowl, whisk the eggs whites about 30 seconds, just to loosen them up. Add the warm milk, sour cream, vanilla paste and lemon juice. Whisk to combine.
Whisk in the butter and lemon zest until the butter looks like cottage cheese. It will not affect the bake.
Add the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and fold to combine. Toss the berries with 1 Tablespoon of flour and fold into the batter until combined without any flour streaks. Don't over mix.
Distribute the batter evenly among the three baking tins, tap once to remove any air pockets and bake at 350°F for about 30 minutes or until golden. Test for doneness by inserting a toothpick in the center. If it comes out clean, the cake is done.
Cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then invert onto a cooling rack, remove the parchment lining and cool completely. Cover with a tea towel so they don't dry out if not assembling once cooled.
While the cake bakes, make the frosting and macerate the berries. To macerate the berries, combine and toss all the ingredients in a bowl. Let the fruit sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.
MASCARPONE CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
In a stand alone mixer, whip the American cream cheese for a few minutes until smooth. Add the cold mascarpone cream cheese, lemon zest and vanilla paste or extract and whip until incorporated.
Add the powdered sugar one cup at a time until blended. Remember to scrape the sides down. When all the sugar has been added, increase the speed and beat for a few minutes until light and fluffy.
In a separate bowl with a hand held mixer, whip a cup of heaving whipping cream with the cream of tartar until light and fluffy.
Using a spatula, fold a third of the whipped cream to the cream cheese mixture. Repeat process until all the whipped cream has been combined.
Place a cake layer on the cake stand. Spread an even layer of frosting on top of the cake. Any frosting that spills over the edge will be smoothed later on. Add fruit between the layers only.
Using a bench scraper or knife, even the frosting on the sides and top of the cake. Arrange the macerated fruit on top of the cake and serve. Enjoy!