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. Doreen

    If you make the cake and filling a day ahead, how would you store it?? Making this for sister 80th birthday!❤

    1. Lindsay

      I would store the cake at room temperature. I’d make the frosting fresh. While the whipped cream won’t deflate, I find that after it sits a while and is stirred again, it’s not quite as stiff.

  2. Kathleen Walczak

    I plan to make this cake this week. I expect it must be kept in the refrigerator due to the whipped cream icing. How long will the icing remain nice looking?

    1. Lindsay

      That’s a tough one. It’s going to be hard to add much to the frosting, since it’s whipped cream. I wouldn’t really recommend it. As for the cake, you could try swapping out some of the lemon juice or milk, but the limoncello will react differently so I can’t guarantee how it would turn out without trying it.

  3. Tammy

    This look amazing and delicious!! I am going to try a cupcake version of this and will let you know how it goes! Thanks for sharing your talent! I can’t wait to try it out!

  4. Em

    I love all your recipes but found this cake recipe to be dry. I followed the recipe to a T and didn’t overcook. In my experience, any cake recipe with butter is that way. I adore your vanilla cake from the berry marscapone recipe and may substitute that.

  5. Carol O'Neill

    My family LOVES this cake. I recently made the updated version (using whole eggs etc) My family said they prefer the older version that uses only egg whites. To me they were both delicious and I really didn’t notice the difference. Still fabulous

  6. Carol O'Neill

    I am about to make the new updated version of this fabulous cake but I am questioning the addition of a 1/2 cup of fresh lemon juice. The older version only had 6 Tablespoons.
    HELP

    1. Lindsay

      This is a different recipe, as you know. The 1/2 cup of lemon juice is just part of this recipe. It’s really only 2 tablespoons more and it turns out great. I hope you enjoy it!

    2. Carol O'Neill

      Thank you so much for your reply regarding the updated version of this cake. I followed directions using 1/2 lemon juice. Just as delicious as the original recipe. Should have trusted your recipe-as always perfect.

  7. Carol O'Neill

    This is by far the MOST delicious cake I have ever made!!! I bake frequently and this is really my families favorite. Everyone just loves it and it is really special.

  8. Andrea S

    I made this two nights ago and LOVE it. I did take one shortcut and bought lemon curd and used it rather than make my own. It is wonderfully tart and sweet just as you say. The only thing I think it may need it some sort of crunch…I am thinking about what that could be so that it doesn’t take away from the lemon flavor. Anyhow…this is the second of your cakes I have made and I have to say I am going to work my way through every one!! 😊

  9. laura p

    I made this cake last week for my daughter’s 18th birthday. Not exaggerating when I say it is one of the top 3 cakes I’ve EVER had! and i’ve had a lot of cake in my time lol. Perfect balance of flavors!

  10. Susanna EM

    Hi Lindsay – thanks so much for the recipe. I’ve made it once before and it is truly fantastic! I will be making the cake again for my mother-in-law’s birthday but will need to make one day in advance and refrigerate. How far in advance should I remove the cake from the fridge prior to serving for best results?

  11. Monica S

    I tried this recipe yesterday and it turned out absolutely perfect! Everyone loved It! The cream was light and fluffy and the sponge was moist and tender. Thank you for sharing this amazing recipe with us, will be making it again!! I’m excited to try more of your recipes

  12. Sherree Hughes

    I am planning on using this recipe as a wedding cake — but would like to make it a few days ahead. can I just store it in airtight containers. In regards to the marscaprone frosting how far in advance do you think I could do that — it is a sem-naked 3 tier cake. Thanks so much

    1. Lindsay

      The cake layers can be stored in air tight containers. I would make the frosting fresh right before frosting the cake, since it’s a whipped cream. Once it’s on the cake, it’ll hold up well. I just wouldn’t recommend making it and storing it in a container.

  13. Linda

    Delicious, and I am a pretty expert baker (really bad sweet tooth for homemade goodies) but 3 times my layers were only about 1” high. First time they didn’t rise much, The first time, I thought maybe I mixed ithe butter, sugar and vanilla too long, (I got distracted so it was probably 3 minutes), so second attempt, still just 1”, so I googled how to check my baking powder, and even though it said it would still be good 8 months, my little test showed it wasn’t very active, so I replaced it with brand new. So the third time, I was confident it would do ok, but still was only about 1” high! Really tasty still though, and the frosting was too die for! This is the first of your recipes I had trouble with. I have probably made 7-8 of your cakes, and they have always turned out perfect! So I still LOVE your recipes, thank you so very much, 

  14. Deborah

    My son requested a lemon cake for his birthday and I am so glad that I found this one. The cake was so tender and the whipped cream frosting was a nice foil for the lemon curd, and not overly sweet. I am looking forward to making this cake again. Thank you!

  15. bakerchick

    Hi! I am a semi-pro baker who has been looking for a great lemon cake recipe for a long time and I’m excited because I made this one (as cupcakes) and it was wonderful. I appreciate it and wish I could show you a picture of how pretty they came but I can’t…Thank you!!!

  16. Danielle

    Made this last night and it was a huge hit. It was absolutely delicious. I made the frosting the night before and when I went to frost it the next day I was worried because it was pretty soft. I ended up basically pouring it over the cake which actually turned out really pretty. I put it back in the fridge and turned the temp cooler to “harden it”. Anyway it ended up perfect and I would definitely make it again!

    1. Lindsay

      I’m so glad to hear you enjoyed it! Whipped cream frosting’s are definitely better applied to the cake right away, but I’m glad to hear it worked out well.

  17. Aviva

    This cake was DIVINE. The recipe was well written and easy to follow except the end where I struggled with the icing. In looking into ways to save it, I found a lot of suggestions to beat the marscapone and sugar first, then to add the cream. This is eventually is what worked for me (albeit in different proportions than written above) and seems a more fool proof route.

  18. Nora

    Hi lindsay, I definitely want to try out this cake just the cake without frosting and all.I need your help in adjusting the rest of the ingredient measurement for just two cups of flour, thank you.

  19. Efi

    Dear Lindsay

    I baked your recipe for my daughters birthday party two weeks ago. I cannot thank you enough for sharing this phenomenal recipe.. I made the remaining batter into cupcakes and they turned out wonderful! Light and fluffy, incredible! By far the best recipe. I absolutely loved it and so did our guests. Also many thanks for the metric measurements, so helpful! Cannot wait to bake and eat them again. Finding myself inviting friends over just to make them again and again. Just so fab!!!

    Warum regards from Zurich
    Efi

  20. Peter Mootoosingh

    I made this cake yesterday. The cake was moist and delicious, not dense at all. However, the mascapone frosting disintegrated and didn’t hold its shape. Should the heavy whipping cream be stabilized with gelatin before adding the mascapone to maintain its consistency?

    1. Lindsay

      I’m glad you enjoyed the cake. I have used this frosting on many cakes and it really does work well and is very stable. There’s no gelatin. Assuming there wasn’t an issue with the cream itself, it probably was the cheese. Mascarpone cheese can be finicky. If it gets too warm, it will do that – even in frosting – and no amount of refrigerating it fixes that. My guess is your cheese was too warm when you added it. It’s best if it’s still cool, but not straight out of the fridge when you use it.

  21. Kacie

    Hi! 
    I made this cake today and it has been the best lemon cake that I’ve made so far. Thank you! I do have a question though – I like my layers to be thicker than what this recipe came out as. Do you have a suggestion how I can adjust this? 

    1. Lindsay

      So glad to hear that! You could try making 6 inch layers to make them thicker, or try increasing the batter. If you do 1 1/2 recipes worth, you could try it in 8 or 9 inch pans and see if you get the height you want.

  22. Olive

    I was hesitant to make this cake due to the overwhelming mixed reviews, but after reading that it had since been revised, I decided to give it a try and I was not disappointed. I only made the cake portion and paired it with a different frosting, and the cake itself was wonderfully moist and flavorful, not dense whatsoever!

  23. Kara

    This cake is incredible! Thank you for sharing and updating. I used the new recipe and it was amazing!

  24. Benji

    Hi. I made the original version and enjoyed it very much.  So much, I decided to make the revised version and I do like this one better. Thank you for taking the time to update it. The cake is delicious.  Everyone should give it a try and fall in love like I did.

  25. Michelle Garfunkel

    Hi Lindsey,

    I tried the new recipe you posted. I thought the cake came out very moist and was delicious. It had good lemon flavor throughout and the frosting wasn’t too sweet. I did notice that the first time I made the lemon curd, it was not enough filling. I ended up making another batch and just doubled the recipe.

  26. Sonia

    Hello!  This cake looks devine!  My attempt at whipped frosting isn’t working for me. Any suggestions?  My swipes do not set up like yours. I made the ice cream cake Friday and I may have over beated the frosting. How can I test to make sure it’s the right consistency?  Should I try to pipe a swirl?

    Can I make a lemon buttercream and use on this?  I’m thinking of doing a raspberry filling inside 

    Love your website!  It’s my go to for inspiration. 

    1. Lindsay

      I might check to make sure you’re using a HEAVY whipping cream or HEAVY cream. It has a higher fat content, which allows it to whip better. If could also be over whipping. Certainly you could pipe a swirl to test it, but I normally just lift my whisk out of the bowl and turn it upside down. If the peak stays in place, then it’s firm enough. I hope that helps!

      Lemon buttercream would be fine.

      Glad you enjoy the site!

      1. Sonia Patel

        Thank you for your reply!!  I plan on making this on Friday. Instead of the lemon curd I may try the raspberry purée from the raspberry dream cake. Thoughts on how that would taste?  Do you have a lemon frosting recipe?  

  27. Pamela

    I’m glad you chose to redo this cake, not only for the enjoyment of an even more delicious cake to enjoy but as a teaching experience. I can’t tell you how many people, mostly females over the years have said to me they don’t bake and at least half don’t even attempt much cooking because they’re terrified of making mistakes. Now if you put aside the thought of wasting the ingredients and the money, which is what irritates me the most, I’ve always said to them, EVERY baker and EVERY cook, no matter how experienced, how professional have their flops, recipes which aren’t very good and if they tell you differently they’re lying or they NEVER try anything new. I did date a man once for five LONG years that I learned his mother made FIVE recipes, that’s it. She always baked the same pie, the same cookie and so forth. This man was the pickiest eater I had never known. I think had we married I would have taken the cast iron skillet over head finally one day. A person can’t be afraid to try something. I tell them its the only way you learn. Plus, women today have a MUCH easier time than I did. Being born in the early 60s PBS was still a ways off and if an adult didn’t teach cooking and you didn’t have some in school (which I don’t think they even have any more), you were out of luck of seeing an actual person do anything. All you had were cookbooks, most without pictures at the time. Some only had sketches. I won’t even buy a cookbook any longer without pictures. I can still remember the spaghetti I made about age 12 which was one big blob of noodles, but my family ate it anyway. So while the original cake wasn’t a “flop”, it wasn’t the best you felt it could be and could still be improved. People are doing that now to recipes more than ever. In fact I think they do it TOO much at times. Sometimes things are best left alone. I have seen some CRAZY recipes online over the past 20 years. I realize each blogger needs unique recipes but there is only SO much you can do with a brownie or a sugar cookie or an apple pie or a variety of other recipes. Sometimes the changes aren’t for the best, sometimes they are. But I’m glad you showed your readers, especially ones still fairly new at all of this its absolutely fine to return to a recipe and make changes IF those changes improve the final version. As a TRUE lemon fan, usually choosing lemon over chocolate (I know, that makes some people swoon and almost faint its so unthinkable to them) I am definitely looking forward to giving this a try, especially as I have mascarpone in the refrigerator right now which should be used. Well done and keep those lemon desserts coming. Us non chocolate folks love them.

  28. Shy

    Hi, I was just wanting to make this cake for my mothers and fathers birthday, but I was wondering if it was moist and if I could bake it in 2 9in baking pans…

    Also, would it be ok for me to throw in a few blueberries into the batter and sustitute the mascarpone frosting for a cream cheese frosting?

    1. Lindsay

      Yes, very moist. You can bake it in two 9 inch pans but might need to adjust the baking tone. You won’t need as much lemon curd either. The blueberries will sink, but you could add them. And cream cheese will work just fine.

      1. Shy

        Ok thanks! Is there a specific amount that you would recommend I use for all the ingredients of the lemon curd? If not thats absolutely fine!

      2. Lindsay

        Well, you’ll only need one layer of curd, instead of two. So you should be able to just cut it in half.

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