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 1x
  • 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!


Scale

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

225 Comments
  1. Mary Andrews

    Can’t wait to try this! Can I use store-bought lemon curd instead of making it? I have it on hand from Trader Joe’s.

  2. Magda

    Hi. I’m making this recipe. Everything going well until the mascarpone frosting. I had my whipped cream ready and negra I put the mascarpone disaster. It looked like crumbled cheese in water. What went wrong? 

  3. sandra lewis

    I made this wonderful, melt in your mouth cake today. It is outstanding. Since there are only 2 of us and no place to share, I made half of the recipe – love having the metric measurements. I baked in 3 6-inch pans and adjusted timing. I followed all of the directions the same. I’ll be baking it again when I can share. Thank you!

    1. Lindsay

      What size sheet cake? Like a 9×13? I haven’t tried this particular cake at that size, but I imagine it would be ok. I might just reduce the temperature of the oven to 325 and increase the baking time a bit.

  4. Linda

    I made the cake layers last week and froze them. The still wrapped cake layers have thawed in the refrigerator. I had planned to frost today for my party tomorrow, but am wondering if you advise frosting tomorrow. Regarding the issue with thin whipped frosting, I often stabilize whip cream with gelatin. That prevents thinning. You are very generous with your time to answer all the questions you receive. Thanks

  5. Susan

    I made this cake for friends, and it was the best cake I have ever made! I found a recipe for homemade mascarpone, and it turned out perfectly! I’ve never made lemon curd, and this was so easy! The frosting and filling was better than anything I’ve ever had…the cake was moist and so delicate with the lemon zest…I can’t say enough about it! I served it with a raspberry glaze, and it was beautiful and delicious. Thanks for your great directions-not one problem with anything!

  6. Stefani

    Like so many others, my cakes did not rise. At most they are 1/2″ thick. I followed the recipe to a T and have been baking for many years. It’s really too bad because this looks amazing. 🙁

  7. MIchelle

    Hi there, I’m trying to make your beautiful cake, but have a problem. Is the lemon juice supposed to curdle the milk? I added the lemon juice, milk and water together and the milk curdled. HELP

    1. Rosie

      i had this issue the first time i made it. even checked with my partner who is a chef and he wasnt sure… but used it anyway and it was the most amazing cake ive ever had. im making it today as cupcakes and it curdled again but sure itll be amazing as before 🙂

  8. Lesbia Almarza

    Hola Lindsay! Será que puedo hacer solo el pastel sin agregar los rellenos y me queda con suficiente sabor a limón? Gracias, eres muy amable! 

  9. Jennifer Kruger

    Can you use the Mascarpone frosting for just the filling an decorate the outside with an icing that doesn’t need as much refrigeration?

  10. Jean

    I am an experienced baker too. This cake did not rise. Did not turn golden and was dense. I wont be making this recipe again. It was a big dissapoinment. I wish I had read the comments first.

      1. Trish

        Hi
        Curious what thickness the layers are with a 9 inch pan. 
        My were about 3/4 inch. 
        Thanks 

  11. Lindsay Gardiner

    thank you for this recipe! I just made this for my brother’s birthday and did it as a 6in, 4 tier naked cake with piped frosting on top with a perforated white chocolate Dome. Came out amazing! Because I made such a small cake I have batter and frosting left over. How do you feel about using the frosting after it’s been refrigerated? I’m afraid piping will go fine but it will melt once on the cooled cake. I’m half afraid to let it sit at room temperature for fear it would soften, separate, or even melt. Any tips? Or should I just start from fresh?

    1. Lindsay

      So glad you enjoyed it! The mascarpone whipped cream is probably best added to the cake fresh. In my experience after whipped cream sits for a bit, it can be a little funny when trying to pipe with it.

      1. Briana

        Thai recipe is a keeper!
        My only changes were to use 1/2 cake flour and half AP, and then my frosting was half mascarpone and half cream cheese (make sure the cream cheese is room temp or it’ll be chunky). SO good, omg. Also doubled the curd. Will be using my leftover egg whites for lemon curd macarons! 😁

  12. Mitch

    I made this last week. Absolutely loved it! Taking some advice of others, i used 3 9″ pans and increased the cake recipe to 1 1/2. Since i love lemon, i doubled the curd. Will be making this again soon. Thanks so much for sharing, Lindsay!

    1. Lindsay

      That depends a little bit on the temperature where you are. In an air conditioned setting, it’d be fine for several hours. The mascarpone whipped cream stays fairly stable. If it’s outside or in a place where it’s warm and not air conditioned, it might not hold up for more than an hour or so.

  13. Veronica Fenton

    Have you tried making this with gluten free flour? I am hosting a birthday party and just found out that two of our guests are “gluten free”. I would still love to make this cake, but am nervous about the result. Thank you!

  14. Laura French

    This cake was so tasty.
    I had to improvise with 9” cake pans and make two layers. I baked a few minutes less than noted and it was flavorful and moist. Rave reviews from everyone.

  15. Chandler

    Just a thought- lots of people are saying their cakes turn out dense. Are they sifting the flour? Could be a result of too much flour. I’ve made your chocolate cake and sifted. Came out VERY light, fluffy, and delicious! 
    Do you sift your flour? 

    1. Lindsay

      It’s possible. It’s hard to say. Even those that have had a dense result could have had that result for a different reasons. Sifting flour can certainly make a difference. I don’t sift my flour, because I weigh my ingredients so I know the amount is accurate.

  16. Anna

    My family and I did not find that these flavors melded well.  The curd was good on its own, but too tart in the cake.  The frosting tasted great but was waaaaay to soft- even with me being careful to keep it cold at all times. The cake itself was okay – more dense than preferred.
    Overall, not a cake I would ever make again.

  17. Sarah

    I just made the frosting and it was coming out perfect with stiff peaks after adding the mascarpone. I walked away from the mixer for a couple minutes and when I returned the frosting had coagulated like cottage cheese and went flat. What did I do wrong? Is it reparable? I spent $14 for the mascarpone and hate to put it down the sink. Can you help?

    1. Lindsay

      Hmm, the only thing I can think is the temperature of the mascarpone. I’m assuming it was still cool? If it’s too warm, it can definitely make the whipped cream weep.

  18. Mun

    Hi Lindsay, I was just wondering if I were to bake this cake with three layers in 4 in. cake pans, would I half the recipe? I was also wondering if I would have to adjust the baking temperature and time. Thanks!

    1. Lindsay

      I don’t ever bake 4in cakes, so I’m not sure exactly, but I’m guessing you would cut it in half. You will need to adjust the baking time but the temperature will be the same.

  19. Evelyn

    This looks so good and beautiful! I usually make my own mascarpone and in your videos your mascarpone looks a lot different ( it looks thicker) I was wondering if you have a reason for this?
    thanks!

    1. Lindsay

      Mine is a store bought mascarpone, so there’s no reason – that’s just how it comes. 🙂 If yours is thinner, it could affect the consistency of the whipped frosting.

      1. Kathy A. Johnson

        Where do you get your mascarpone? I just saw another strawberry marscapone “Love Cke” demonstarted. When I searched, I found yours. there are elements of yours that I like better. I have all the ingredients except the mascarpone. How do I down load your recipe or Pin it?

      2. Lindsay

        I usually find mascarpone cheese in the deli section of our grocery store. There is a button for Pinterest at the top of the post underneath the title. And a print button within the recipe card. I hope you enjoy the cake!

  20. Jess

    I made this tonight, it cooked well and turned out good, but while mixing the egg whites in the battery seemed almost curdled looking…..I followed the directions to a T! Is it still alright? Has this happened to any one else?

    1. Lindsay

      Hmm, I’m not sure why it’d seem curdled. That can happen when adding the wet and dry ingredients at the end, but should resolve itself with the addition of the dry ingredients.

  21. Kristy

    Hi Lindsay, 
    I made this cake yesterday for my mums birthday and it was an absolute winner. Totally delicious and I loved staying away from the whole sugary buttercream cakes.
    This is a new favourite and so easy to make.
    Will tag on my Instagram post.
    Thank you so much.

  22. Maria

    I prepared the cake 3 months ago and was perfect. I enjoyed the whole process.

    Can I substitute the sugar needed with honey? Both in the lemon curd and the cake.

  23. Sharon

    Hi Lindsay, going to give this a try for a mid-Sept birthday party! Am wondering if the frosting can be replaced with Swiss or Italian meringue buttercream, yet still tastes good overall? What about white ganache frosting?

    I really like the cheese component but weather here is super humid (>80%). I plan to make a two-tier with fondant accents, which might slide off if the cream cheese frosting melts…

    1. Lindsay

      Yes, I would think one of the meringue buttercreams would be good. Those are generally kind of light and I think they’d compliment the cake better than a ganache.

  24. Sherry Jenkins

    Hi there! Wow, you are so generous with he time given for answering questions, I appreciated the answer on the ombré color because I want to color  my cake/frosting  too.  I have a couple of questions…. 
    Does the consistency of the frosting lend well to piping poufy swirls on top, or “painting”  with it like with buttercream?
    Do you have any idea how one would convert the baking time for 6×3″ cake pans? 
    I, too, am excited to try this recipe! Actually will be trying 2-3 of your recipes for a couple of parties I am baking for this weekend. I will let you know how they go! 
    Thank you again! 
    Sherry

    1. Lindsay

      Sorry for the delay in responding! Poufy swirls should be fine. “Painting” it might be ok. I would think it’d be fine, just be careful not to over mix the frosting as you’re coloring it. I don’t bake any 6 inch cakes, so I’m really not sure about baking time. I hope you enjoyed it!

  25. tiffany wang

    Hello
    May i know 
    Heavy whipping cream you had used in this cake is Diary or non diary (topping cream)? Which one should i use? Please

  26. Natalee

    I tried the recipe but my cake layers turned out dense and didn’t rise……..I don’t know what I did wrong. I am wondering if the recipe is missing baking soda? 

    1. Lindsay

      No, the cake doesn’t need baking soda. Are you sure you fully creamed the butter and sugar? Did you happen to open the oven door a little soon while the cake layers baked?

      1. Melissa @ Life, Love and Sugar

        If you want to add limoncello to this cake, you may want to use a buttercream frosting and add the limoncello to the frosting.

  27. Jennifer Cusick

    This was AMAZING!! Rave reviews from everyone! I baked three 9″ layers which took 16 minute to bake. For those trying to adjust bake times for different sized pans, the tops will not brown but you’ll see the sides start to pull away from the pan ever so slightly and you will see the sides are a very light brown. Another tip is when you start to smell the cake, it’s done! The ONLY thing I would change is next time (and there WILL be a next time:) I will make 1-1/2 times the lemon curd – there are 6 yolks anyway, and this will provide a little more for spreading on my 9″ cakes.

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