Vanilla Cake with Raspberry Buttercream ~ a pretty pink raspberry cake recipe for the raspberry lovers in your life! (Tip ~ use frozen berries when fresh aren’t available.)
This raspberry layer cake recipe is the ultimate pretty in pink dessert for berry lovers.
When it comes to berries, raspberries are definitely top of the line; their flavor is unrivaled, and it just makes sense to feature them in a celebratory dessert. This could be a lovely summer birthday cake or a ‘just because’ family treat to brighten up this weird summer we’re all having. It’s also a welcome change from plain chocolate and vanilla.
Every great layer cake starts with a great cake recipe
After some experimenting I landed on a formula that makes a super-soft, tender, ‘boxed mix style’ cake. It’s an irresistible texture. I use a mixture of melted butter (for flavor) and oil (for moistness) plus a little bit of vinegar that I find really helps to make an extra soft and pillowy crumb (don’t worry, you won’t taste it!)
The cup of hot water is something I borrowed from Ina Garten’s chocolate cake recipe ~ it helps keep the batter moist and the little bit of added heat helps to ensure even cooking even before the cake hits the oven.
A ribbon of raspberry filling amps up the raspberry flavor
A thick raspberry sauce tucked between the layers of this cake gives you a burst of fresh berry flavor in every bite. When you gently cook raspberries you enhance the flavor by a factor of ten, it really pops. I use this technique in my Raspberry Eton Mess my Raspberry Pavlovas, and my Raspberry Ripple Ice Cream to get vivid flavor.
How to make a simple raspberry filling
- Start with fresh raspberries (use frozen in a pinch)
- Cook them gently with a little sugar until they break down and release their juice. Start over low heat and stir often so the sugar doesn’t scorch. (You can add a splash of water to get it started if you like.)
- For this cake I added a little cornstarch to thicken the mixture.
- Let cool and store your filling in the refrigerator until needed.
Put away the red food coloring, the same raspberry sauce that fills the cake also tints the frosting that perfect pink. You can control the intensity of the shade of pink by how much raspberry you add. (If you add more raspberry, just add less cream.)
Tips for making raspberry buttercream
- Strain your raspberry sauce before you add it to get a clean pink color.
- Make sure your ingredients are at room temperature, or at least not cold. Adding cold raspberries or cold cream to your frosting can cause it to ‘curdle’ or break.
- If this happens, I transfer it to my food processor and process until smooth, it works like a charm.
Make your frosting ahead of time
You can make the frosting ahead of time and refrigerate, tightly covered. When ready to use it, bring to room temperature and whip it again to freshen it. If the frosting seems too thick, add a bit more milk or cream to loosen it and whip again.
For the raspberry obsessed:
MAKE THIS CAKE FOR THE RASPBERRY LOVER IN YOUR LIFE!
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Raspberry Layer Cake
- 2 cups fresh or frozen raspberries
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tsp cornstarch
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp almond extract (or substitute more vanilla extract)
- 1 cup whole milk (or half and half)
- 3 cups all purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 Tbsp white vinegar
- 1 cup hot tap water
- 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 5 cups confectioner's sugar, sifted
- 3 tbsp raspberry puree
- 3 tbsp heavy cream or milk
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- a pinch of salt
- fresh raspberries, for topping the cake, if desired.
For the raspberry filling
- Add the raspberries and sugar to a small saucepan, and bring to a gentle simmer. Cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring often, until the berries have broken down and the sauce has slightly thickened. Sift the cornstarch into the pan, and stir well. Continue to cook for just about another minute, then remove from the heat. Push the cooked raspberries through a fine mesh strainer to remove the seeds. You'll want to use a flexible silicone spatula or the back of a spoon to press the sauce through the strainer so that you get as much of the berries through as possible.
- Set aside to cool completely. This can be done up to a couple of days in advance and kept in the fridge until ready to use.
For the cake
- Preheat oven to 350F and grease 2 8-inch cake pans. I also line the bottom of mine with a circle of parchment paper for easy removal.
- Melt the butter in a small saucepan or the microwave and allow it to cool.
- In a large mixing bowl, add the oil, sugar, eggs, vanilla extract, almond extract, milk and melted butter and whisk everything together until smooth.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt, and add it to the wet ingredients. Mix to combine but don't over mix.
- Finally, add the hot water along with the vinegar, and fold the batter together until all the ingredients are well mixed. The batter will be thin, and you may even see it start to fizz a little bit from the vinegar reacting with the baking soda. This is ok!
- Divide the batter evenly between the two prepared pans and bake for 30-35 minutes until risen and golden, and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out without wet batter clinging to it.
- Let the cakes cool for 15 minutes, then run a blunt knife around the edges of the pans and flip them over to a cooling rack to finish cooling completely before frosting.
For the raspberry buttercream
- Cream the butter for a minute or two in a stand mixer with a paddle attachment (or with electric beaters) until smooth.
- Add the sifted confectioner's sugar, about a cup at a time, mixing well between each addition.
- Add the raspberry filling, cream, vanilla extract, and salt. Feel free to add a little more or less of the liquid ingredients depending on your preference for taste and texture (leave about 1/4 cup or so of raspberry filling to add to the middle of your cake.) Beat the frosting until smooth and creamy.
- To frost the cake, add a layer of raspberry buttercream to the first cake layer, and top with a thin layer of the remaining raspberry filling. Add the next cake layer on top, and use the remaining frosting to cover the top and sides. Top with fresh raspberries, if desired.
notes and variations
- The raspberry sauce can be made up to a few days in advance and refrigerated.
- The cake layers can be made ahead, cooled completely, wrapped in plastic and kept overnight on the counter, or in the refrigerator.
- The frosting can be made up to a day ahead, covered with plastic in the refrigerator. Bring to room temp and re-whip before using.
- This cake can be baked in a 9x13 pan, same oven temperature, and increase the baking time a bit.
- You can halve the recipe for a single layer cake.
- If you want to use 9 inch cake pans decrease the baking time a bit.
- You can make cupcakes, same oven temp, check them at 18-20 minutes.