Lemon Mascarpone Layer Cake

This Lemon Mascarpone Layer Cake is made with a moist lemon cake, lemon curd and a smooth and creamy whipped mascarpone frosting! It’s light, yet sweet and tart and so darn good! It’ll be your new favorite cake for spring!

pinterest collage image for lemon mascarpone layer cake

So today I’m sharing an update on this recipe. I originally posted it about 2 years ago and it had kind of mixed reviews during it’s time. The lemon curd and frosting are solid and I’ve used them many times in many ways, but some people had issues with the cake layers. I find with most recipes that there are always people who have trouble. It’s the nature of baking. But if people have enough trouble, it catches my attention. And being one who would prefer that everyone be successful (even though I know that’s nearly impossible), I thought I’d give this recipe an update.

When I shared my Lemon Poppyseed Cake last year, I fell in love with it. The cake layers are pretty perfect and the reviews back it up. So I decided to swap out the original lemon cake layers used in this cake with the lemon cake layers from that cake. Everything else is the same. Even if you loved the original version of this cake, you might want to try this new version because I do think it’s even better.

lemon cake on a galvanized metal cake standslice of lemon cake on a metal plate

So if you’ve never seen this cake before, let’s chat about it a bit. This cake was inspired largely by this Lemon Mascarpone Cream Pie that I made shortly before making the original version of this cake. I loved the sweet and tart flavor with the smooth mascarpone cheese and thought it might bake a fabulous cake. Boy, was I right!

To get started making it, you’ll make the lemon curd. It’s fairly simple to make with lemon juice and zest, sugar, egg yolks and butter. It’s cooked over a double boiler (or in a bowl over a pot of simmering water) and when cooled, thickens nicely for layering inside the cake.

The cake itself is lemon heaven. It is wonderfully moist from the addition of some oil along with the butter used. Plus, it uses both lemon juice and lemon zest for that great flavor.

overhead shot of lemon mascarpone cake with lemon slices and mint leavesslice of cake with a bite taken on fork

And then there’s the frosting. If you’ve made my Berry Mascarpone Layer Cake before, then you’ve made this frosting and know how amazing it is. So light and tasty with the flavor of the mascarpone cheese! You’ll make homemade whipped cream and then add mascarpone cheese to it and you’re done!

Once everything is made, put the cake together and dig in!

The flavors of this cake are seriously amazing. The lemon cake is tender, sweet and super moist. The curd is plenty tart and full of lemon flavor. The cake and curd alone are wonderful together, but then you add the whipped mascarpone frosting and it takes it over the top! It softens the tartness and sweetness of the cake and adds a creaminess that is perfection! I love, love, love the flavors and textures together. Hard to stop eating it!

slice of lemon mascarpone cake on plate with lemon slices and mint

If you’re a big fan of the original recipe, you can download a PDF file of it here.

NOTE: This recipe was updated on 5/13/20 to address concerns about the cake layers being dense. It’s a new recipe for the cake layers, but the filling and whipped frosting are the same.

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slice of lemon mascarpone cake on plate with lemon slices and mint
Recipe

Lemon Mascarpone Layer Cake

  • Author: Life, Love and Sugar
  • Prep Time: 2 hours
  • Cook Time: 35 minutes
  • Total Time: 2 hours 35 minutes
  • Yield: 12-14 Slices
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: American

Description

This Lemon Mascarpone Layer Cake is made with a moist lemon cake, lemon curd and a smooth and creamy whipped mascarpone frosting!


Ingredients

LEMON CURD

  • 1/4 cup (60ml) fresh lemon juice (about 12 lemons)
  • 2 tsp finely grated lemon zest
  • 1/3 cup (69g) sugar
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 3 tbsp (42g) salted butter

LEMON CAKE LAYERS

  • 2 1/2 cups (325g) all purpose flour
  • 1 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup (112g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cups (310g) sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup (180ml) milk
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon zest

WHIPPED MASCARPONE FROSTING

  • 2 1/2 cups (600ml) heavy whipping cream, cold
  • 1 1/2 cups (173g) powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 16 oz (452g) mascarpone cheese, chilled*

Instructions

TO MAKE THE LEMON CURD:

1. Combine all the ingredients in a double boiler (or in a metal bowl over a pot of simmering water). Heat while whisking constantly until mixture thickens and reaches 160 degrees, or coats the back of a spoon.
2. Pour the lemon curd into a heat proof bowl, cover with clear wrap pressed onto the the top of the curd to avoid a film developing, and refrigerate until cold.

TO MAKE THE CAKE LAYERS:

3. Prepare three 8 inch cake pans with parchment paper circles in the bottom and grease the sides. Preheat oven to 350°F (176°C).
2. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium sized bowl and set aside.
3. Add the butter, oil, sugar and vanilla extract to a large mixer bowl and beat together until light in color and fluffy, about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Do not skimp on the creaming time.
4. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing until mostly combined after each. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed to be sure all ingredients are well incorporated.
5. Add half of the dry ingredients to the batter and mix until mostly combined.
6. Combine the milk and lemon juice, then slowly add the mixture to the batter and mix until well combined.
7. Add the remaining dry ingredients and mix until well combined and smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed to be sure all ingredients are well incorporated. Do not over mix the batter.
8. Add the lemon zest and gently stir to combine.
9. Divide the batter evenly between the cakes pans and bake for 22-25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with a few crumbs.
10. Remove the cakes from the oven and allow to cool for about 2-3 minutes, then remove to cooling racks to cool completely.

TO MAKE THE FROSTING AND ASSEMBLE CAKE:

11. Add the heavy whipping cream, powdered sugar and vanilla extract to a large mixer bowl and whip on high speed until soft peaks form.
12. Add the mascarpone cheese to the whipped cream and whip until stiff peaks form. It will happen fairly quickly. Set whipped frosting in the refrigerator.
13. To assemble the cake, use a large serrated knife to remove the domes from the top of the cakes, if needed.
14. Place the first layer of cake on a serving plate or a cardboard cake round. Pipe a dam of frosting around the outside of the cake. I use Ateco tip 808 for the dam so that it’s tall.
15. Spread half of the lemon curd evenly on top of the cake layer, inside the dam. It should fill the dam about half way full.
16. Add some mascarpone frosting to the top of the lemon filling and spread into an even layer to fill in the remaining dam space.
17. Add the second layer of cake and repeat the filling layer with the remaining lemon curd and additional mascarpone frosting.
18. Add the final layer of cake on top, then smooth out the frosting around the sides of the cake.
19. Frost the outside of the cake, then use an offset spatula to create a striped pattern on the sides of the cake, if desired. Pipe swirls of frosting onto the top of the cake and finish it off with some lemon slice candies and white pearl sprinkles.
20. Refrigerate well covered until ready to serve. I find that the cake is best when served a little chilled, but not cold. Cake should stay fresh when well covered for 2-4 days.

*I prefer to use the mascarpone cheese when still chilled, but soft, so that it’ll in corporate well, without chunks. The warmer mascarpone cheese is, the more likely it is to soften to the point that it won’t firm up well again and can make too soft of a frosting.

Keywords: lemon cake recipe, best lemon cake, mascarpone frosting recipe, lemon desserts

Enjoy!

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Recipe rating

226 Comments
  1. Elana

    Made your Berry Marscarpone layer cake for my mom’s birthday last year (and a few times since!) and it is amazing. She requested something citrus this year and I came across this one while looking for something to go with the marscarpone frosting she loved so much last year. Can’t wait to try it this weekend! Thanks for the great recipes!

  2. Jade

    This recipe looks great and I’m planning to try it this weekend! How much frosting does it make? Could I get away with halving the recipe if I’m planning to do a naked cake?

  3. Jamoe

    I just made this cake for a Birthday Party and it was amazing! Such a wonderful spring cake! I think the problem with the “dense cake” comments is the batter was not beat after the eggs whites were added. Beat on medium for 1 min after egg whites are all added for fluffer cake. Can’t wait to try another of your recipes! 

  4. Beth

    I’ve just experimented with my cake – I cut a piece, popped it in the freezer then defrosted it and the frosting has held together beautifully. I hope this information will help others.

  5. Beth

    I’d love to know if anyone has frozen the cake and the frosting? how did it go? I have made this cake and frosted it for Mothers day but have now come down sick so no one is coming 🙁 so I will need to freeze it and am worried that the frosting won’t hold together.

  6. John

    Hi Lindsay,
    This looks wonderful! A question from across the pond: Do you think this cake would be sturdy enough to take a fondant icing (sugarpaste icing in the UK) rather than the frosting? Not sure that I definitely want to do that, just interested in possibilities and variations.

  7. Carol

    Hi Lindsay,
    I just took these out of the oven and wondering if I leave them in the pans to cool on a wire rack or remove them from pan to cool on wire rack?

  8. Tamara

    Hi,
    thanks for sharing the recipe, looks great. Can i please clarify that for the lemon curd when you say 160 degrees you’re talking in F, not C?
    Thanks,
    T

  9. Karmin Thompson

    I love lemon and really wanted this cake to taste as good as it looked. When I made this cake, it came out very very dense. Is the use of baking powder correct for this recipe? Should it be less or should it be baking soda instead? I was disappointed as it wasn’t even close to being “moist and fluffy”. Followed directions spot on and baked for the absolute minimum so that it would not be dry. Please advise as I would love to give this recipe another chance!

    1. Lindsay

      Yes, the baking powder is correct. It can be hard for me to say from a distance what went wrong, but a common issue is not fully creaming the butter and sugar or over mixing the batter at the end. You just want to mix until things are combined.

      1. Karmin Thompson

        Thank you! I intend to make this again and will pay attention to these steps in the hopes it is less dense. The flavor was amazing so am looking forward to making (and eating!) again. I sure appreciate your time in replying and offering suggestions on where I may have went wrong. Thank you again!

  10. Graphista

    I can’t wait to try this again. I messed up the first time and it came out very, very dense but the flavor was really good. Next time, I’ll stick to the standard instructions. I chose to fill my cake with a guava filling instead of lemon and it really helps the lemon stand out. The marscapone whip is just sweet enough and has a soft, light texture (like homemade cool whip!). It frosts and pipes easily. 

  11. Tati

    I made this delicious cake yesterday for my birthday, but I have problem with the frosting. After I mixed all the ingredients, it was too watering, so I took the liquid out and added more powdering sugar, and it was great. Everyone love it.

    1. Lindsay

      So glad you enjoyed it! As for the watery frosting – mascarpone cheese gets very thin if over mixed so that could have been the issue.

    1. Lindsay

      Yes, they can. I always wrap them in clear wrap and then again in aluminum foil. Then defrost in the refrigerator. I hope that helps!

    1. Lindsay

      I honestly haven’t tried it to be able to say if it’d work or not. If you try it, I’d love to know how it works out!

  12. Dewi Liyanto

    Hi Lindsay..
    . i want to make ombre cake. is that ok if I color the mascarpone frosting? I’m gonna try this cake tomorrow, can you please reply ASAP.
    thank you ^_^

  13. Jesslyn Hildred

    HELP!!! My frosting is oozing out the sides of my cakes. Can you re-whip it or add more powdered sugar? It worked great on my first cake, but the now it seems to be liquidy. I kept it in the fridge while I worked on torting the cakes.

    1. Lindsay

      Hmm, did the mascarpone cheese get a little too warm before it was added to the whipped cream? I’ve had that happen before and sadly, there’s not really a way to save it. Mascarpone cheese is really finicky like that. It should still be cool when added to the whipped cream.

  14. Ngao

    I just made the cake and the cake didn’t come out golden. It kind of just stayed white on top. Did I do something wrong?

    1. Lindsay

      Not necessarily. Different color pans and ovens can change things like that. Did it still bake alright otherwise?

  15. Shawn

    Hi Lindsay – I’ve enjoyed so many of your recipes in the past – thank you! I would like to know the difference in texture, flavor, etc. between this lemon cake recipe and your triple lemon cake recipe? the first time I made the triple lemon cake recipe it was perfect…the second time not so much. Any thoughts you have on the difference between the two recipes is appreciated as I am getting ready to make another lemon layer cake! Thank you!

    1. Lindsay

      I’m so glad to hear you’ve enjoyed the recipes. The triple lemon cake is much denser than this one, in my option. This one is lighter – both in texture and taste. The frosting on this one is also super light, whereas the other one uses a buttercream, which is heavier and sweeter. Flavor-wise, I’d say they’re both quite lemon-y. This one just has the nice additional of mascarpone cheese.

  16. Trisha Spinello

    Hi, just made the cake it seems fluffy and springy just didn’t rise very much is that normal?
    Thank you . Smells wonderful just don”t want to waste the curd and topping if it is wrong.

    1. Lindsay

      Hmm, in my experience it definitely rises nicely. A common issue is not fully creaming the butter and sugar together. If it seems nice and fluffy still, it might stil be fine. Hard to say without seeing it. But my layers usually bake to be roughly 1 1/2 inches each in height.

      1. Julie M Mortlock

        Hi Lindsay, I’m with everyone else. I had a terrible experience yesterday. The cakes didn’t rise at all and came out rubbery. I realized my baking powder was out of date, so I bought new before attempting again. I also wondered about the fat content in the unsalted butter I use for croissants being too high, so i bought a cheaper store brand. Today, I had much better luck, but the rise is still not near 1.5″, more like 1″, but the texture is better. I ‘did’ cream the butter well, (even viewed the video to make sure it was the same consistency as yours), and did not over beat. Today, I also made sure all ingredients were room temp so they would blend nicely which they did. The batter was a much better texture than yesterday. Yesterday I weighed the ingredients, today i used measures. I feel like there is something you are doing either intuitively or have inadvertently left out. Are you by chance using cake or self rising flour vs. all purpose? Flavor is great, but like others, I’m just not getting a good rise. No where at all like the picture displays.

      2. Lindsay

        Without being there it’s hard for me to tell you if the texture is what the results are getting or not. It sounds like it could possibly be correct. Perhaps its just a different texture than you are expecting. I am using all purpose flour. Of course it’s always possible I’m doing something I don’t know to include, but I’ve used various versions of this recipe before and people have had it turn out the way the expect. it may just be a different texture than you expected, I’m not sure.

    2. Juju M

      I baked this tonight and did not get a good rise and the texture was very dense. I did properly cream the butter and sugar however, I noticed my baking powder was well past it’s expiration. Folks who had the texture issue, use fresh baking powder! That would also explain a lack of rise (that said, divided into 3 pans, these are not high layers based on the video. I plan to try again tomorrow. 🙂

  17. Jessica

    Excited to try making this cake! It’s gorgeous! Quick question, how do you think cream cheese would sub the marscapone?

  18. Rebecca Davis

    Do you think this cake would hold up as a two tiered cake? Also curious what you thought about serving it as a naked cake? Wondered if I should maybe brush the layers with lemon syrup if I served it semi naked.

    1. Lindsay

      As long as it’s well doweled and supported, I would think so. A naked version should be fine. The lemon syrup sounds great.

  19. Chandana

    Hi, I am planning on making this cake, and was wondering where does one get “lemon slice candies” from?

    1. Lindsay

      Many grocery stores have the slices that are on top of the cake. The ones I used on the sides are from CVS.

  20. Romy

    This cake looks absolutely delicious! I have a question though: Would it be possible to frost the cake a day ahead? Or does it taste best on the same day?
    Thank you!

      1. Dawne

        I loved this recipe, but I did make the cakes a day ahead and refrigerated them. I don’t know if it was because of that, but the cake itself was not light and moist as I’d hoped. I am an experienced baker and followed the recipe exactly (except used cake flour) and the cakes were dense, not the light airy texture that makes cake wonderful, imo. The flavor was lovely, and everything else about the recipe was divine, especially the frosting. OMG is that great. I did double the lemon curd so I’d have leftovers! Any thoughts what might have happened to the cakes?

      2. Lindsay

        Hmmm, it could definitely be partly due to refrigerating it. I do think that makes a difference. The other thing is I think there’s a bit of opinion as far as how light a cake is. 🙂 It’s possible this is just a little more dense for you. I’m glad you enjoyed it overall though!

      1. Lindsay

        This recipe was updated last week. The filling and frosting are the same, but the cake layers have been updated. The old one had egg whites only, the new version is whole eggs.

      2. Florencia

        Hi, i would like to know how many egg whites (or how was the recipe before) since i normaly have egg whites and dont want to waste them. Thank you(and sorry if the english is bad) I’m a follower from Argentina😊

    1. Lindsay

      I don’t beat them before adding, but a quick little toss wouldn’t hurt anything. You just don’t want to whip them or beat them a bunch. They are pretty much just added as is.

  21. Martha Herrera

    I’m so glad I found you on Pinterest. You are amazing!

    I had a quick question, what pipe number did you use for the swirls?

    Thanks.

    1. Lindsay

      I’m not sure about adjusting ingredients, but you could certainly bake it as is in two 9 inch pans. You’ll just want to adjust the baking time.

    2. Nancy M

      I normally do 1 1/2 recipe, and adjust the time. Since it’s a larger pan, take away about 5 minutes, but check it at the low end of the bake time.

      1. Ivana

        Am I the only one to see there is sour cream in the video and there isn’t any instructions in the recipe? I print out the recipe and followed it to the t, only to see there is egg whites and sour cream instead of whole eggs and no sour cream? 🙁 

      2. Lindsay

        The video has been removed. It was for the old version of this recipe and it was recently updated. It currently uses whole eggs and no sour cream.

  22. Suzanne Griffin

    That cake is beautiful! Mine will never look that good (ha), but I know it will taste great! Thanks!

  23. Linda Brown

    Would love to make this cake, but need some clarification re the top layer.  The photos appear to have a layer of smooth frosting underneath the lemon slices and the mounds of piped frosting, but the directions do not mention that. Please advise.  Thanks!

    1. Lindsay

      You just want to fully frost the outside of the cake once it’s layered and then proceed with the decorations. Hope that helps!

    2. Jaime

      This sounds amazing! My 2 year old LOVES lemon, so I found this recipe while searching for something he can help me bake. He and I are the only ones that will eat it, so I’d like to half the recipe and make a smaller cake for us to share. Do you think there would be any problems with that apart from adjusting the time? Can’t wait to try it!

      1. Lindsay

        That should be fine, you’ll just want to adjust the time as you said and probably use smaller pans.

      2. Paula

        Hi! This cake IS amazing! I’m new to the baking world this is cake #12 n I have roped my husband into my sous-chef. This is the first time I did any type of filling and you lemon filling was amazing. You vanilla cake was the first one that I didn’t over mix and yours was definitely the best tasting. The whipped frosting barely made it on the cake. The amount of lemon was balanced perfectly. I know , I may be new to making n baking cakes, but not to eating em. I am looking forward to baking my way through life love and sugar. 😊

Lindsay
About Lindsay

I'm a wife and mom to twin boys, a baby girl and a sweet black lab with a serious sweets addiction! Bring on the sugar!

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“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:12