An easy Vanilla Raspberry Cake with simple cream cheese frosting that makes a perfect birthday cake, and is equally suitable for bridal or baby showers or any occasion that calls for a delicious layer cake.
First of all I feel like I need to start out this post with a disclaimer that this is NOT one of the healthy, clean eating recipes you will usually find on this site. This is a special birthday cake I first made when my daughter and niece turned 2.
I felt like making them a simple pink birthday layer cake with butter, white sugar and flour that brought me back to my cake business days from years ago. There just are some occasions that call for a regular (aka unhealthy) cake.
Because as much as I like experimenting with healthy, less refined ingredients, to this day I haven't found a way to make a beautiful decorated cake that doesn't disintegrate in summer heat. And overall I am a huge believer in moderation, so considering that everyone just has a small slice - there really isn't anything wrong about this raspberry birthday cake.
It's just unusual, since I haven't posted this type of recipe in years. And there is actually one aspect of this recipe that you could call 'healthy' - the frosting is all naturally colored with raspberry puree, but more on that below.
As I just mentioned, I actually made this cake for the first time 2 years ago to celebrate my daughter's and niece's second birthday. They were born just 2 days apart so in our family we sometimes jokingly refer to them as twin cousins.
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My Go-To Vanilla Butter Cake Recipe
My first dabbles in the blogging world were some 8 years ago when I had a decorated cake business. Yes, this now healthy food blog had some rather unhealthy food beginnings.
While running that business I heavily relied on Rose's recipes in the Cake Bible but I also had my first experiences in recipe development. I needed a simple white vanilla cake recipe.
I loved Rose's butter cake recipes but they came in white cake or yellow cake versions, which meant I ended up either with leftover egg yolks or egg whites. I tweaked and combined the recipes to use whole eggs and ended up with my go-to vanilla butter cake recipe.
The ingredients are simple (mainly eggs, milk, flour, sugar, butter) and the method is straightforward enough. At the height of the cake business I had all the measurements memorized in volume as well as weight, so that I could easily adjust them for any cake pan size and serving amount.
It is still my go-to recipe when I need a reliable, fail-proof vanilla cake but I need to look up the ingredients and amounts again. For that reason I am glad to have this recipe easily accessible on my blog now.
Seedless Raspberry Puree for Raspberry Cake Filling
My parents have a little acreage in beautiful British Columbia, Canada. Every year their garden produces bountiful crops, including a huge load of raspberries.
Everyone, and especially the two girls were obsessed with eating raspberries straight from the bushes and using them as fingers caps. So it only made sense to make them a raspberry layer cake for their birthdays.
Also because the raspberries turn the frosting into a beautiful share of natural pink (no food colouring in this recipe). To flavor and colour the frosting with raspberries, I first turned them into a puree to remove the seeds.
The seedless raspberry puree still imparts all the flavor and essence of raspberries without the little specks of seeds that would make it impossible to apply the icing in a smooth and even finish.
To make the puree I simmer the berries with a little lime juice until they are soft and juicy. That way I can easily push them through a strainer to collect all the juices and pulp while separating out the seeds.
How to make raspberry cream cheese frosting
I chose a simple cream cheese frosting for the cake because my family isn't a big fan of American buttercream frosting. The tartness of cream cheese is much more our thing.
There still is butter and icing sugar in this frosting, but the cream cheese and raspberry puree do a great job of cutting the sweetness and giving it a fruity freshness. The lime juice in the raspberry puree (see above) definitely helps too.
After whipping the butter, icing sugar and cream cheese into airy lightness, the cooled raspberry puree is added. Some more whipping is required now to incorporate the two while maintaining the fluffy light texture.
This raspberry cream cheese frosting is used as both the filling between the cake layers as well as icing on the outside.
To assemble the cake spread some frosting onto the first cake layer before placing fresh raspberry halves all over. Top this with another cake layer and repeat the process.
Then ice the cake with the remaining frosting on the top and outsides. As for decorations I just piped a few simple frosting rosettes and stars on the top and added a few more fresh raspberries.
Tools I Used for this Raspberry Layer Cake
With a stand mixer making layer cakes and frostings becomes really easy. This is my KitchenAid mixer.
A turntable makes it so much easier to get those smooth sides when icing a cake. An angled spatula or bench scraper helps too.
For the large rosettes on top I used an open star tip.
More similar recipes:
- Healthy Carrot Cake (when you need something healthier than this one)
- Strawberry Layer Cake
- Vanilla Mug Cake (a healthier individual cake you can make in minutes)
- Pear Frangipane Tart
Vanilla Raspberry Cake
Vanilla Butter Cake Ingredients
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup milk
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1-½ cups sugar
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup butter softened
Raspberry Cream Cheese Frosting
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- 1-½ cups unsalted butter room temperature
- 8 oz cream cheese softened
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 cups fresh raspberries
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice from 3 key limes
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease two 8 or 9-inch round cake pans, line bottoms with parchment or wax paper, grease again and dust with flour.
- Whisk together eggs, ¼ cup milk and vanilla in a medium bowl. In the bowl of your mixer whisk the dry ingredients to blend. Add butter and remaining milk. Mix first on low speed, then increase to medium speed to combine everything. Scrape down the sides as needed.
- Add the egg mixture in 3 additions, beating for 20 seconds after each addition. Scrape down the sides. Fill batter into the prepared pans.
- Bake 25 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Let cakes cool in the pans for 10 minutes. Then loosen the sides and invert onto wire racks. Cool completely before proceeding.
How to Make Raspberry Cream Cheese Frosting
- In a small saucepan simmer lime juice and 1 cup raspberries for 6-7 minutes or until berries are soft and can easily be mashed. Push the raspberries through a fine mesh strainer to separate the seeds. Set the puree aside to cool completely to room temperature.
- In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat together butter, powdered sugar and salt on low until combined, scraping as necessary. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until white and fluffy (2 to 3 min).
- Add cream cheese in small additions and mix until combined, then continue to beat 2 minutes until fluffy, scraping down the bowl as needed.
- With the mixer on, drizzle in raspberry puree 1 tablespoon at a time, then beat another minute.
- Using a long serrated knife cut each of the two cake layers in half horizontally.
- Cut the remaining 1 cup of raspberries in half. Reserve a few for decoration.
- Place the first cake layer down on a serving plate. Spread a thin layer of raspberry frosting on with a spatula and place ⅓ of the raspberries on top.
- Add the next cake layer and repeat the process.
- Use the remaining frosting to ice the top and sides of the assembled cake. To decorate, place frosting in a piping bag fitted with a large star tip and pipe rosettes and little stars on top. Place raspberries in between.
Frosting Recipe adapted from Natasha's Kitchen
Great recipe, but too much time spent on unhealthy ingredients guilt.
Regina | Leelalicious
I agree. The post was written at a time when I was rebranding to a real, whole foods ingredients recipe blog but still wanted to share this awesome cake recipe. However, I have come a long way since then in terms of ingredient rigidity and can now see the benefits of desserts that go beyond nutritional value. I'll have to take some time and edit the post text to reflect my current views.
Do you use salted or unsalted butter in the cake?
Jennifer @ Leelalicious
Hi Michelle, it should be salted. Happy baking! 🙂
Made this yesterday for my daughter in law. The flavor was excellent but cake was not light and fluffy. It was more dense. Is that what it’s supposed to be? Or did I mess up somewhere? Also, I doubled the purée and used that instead of whole raspberries in the middle. I can’t stand seeds.
Jennifer @ Leelalicious
Hi Christine, I am glad the recipe mostly worked out for you! A denser cake could be due to a few different factors such as overbaking it, overmixing the batter, or using leavening that is no longer fresh. If the leavening isn't as active as it could be, the sugar and liquid in the batter will weigh the cake down, resulting in a dense cake. I hope this helps, but let us know if you have any other questions. 🙂
The batter was extremely doughy. Is it supposed to be that way?
Regina | Leelalicious
Hmm.. did it looks anything like my batter in the video? It is a bit thick because its a butter cake, but definitely still a pourable batter (not dough you have to spread).
I am going to make one 10 inch cake instead for two 8 or 9 inch. Will the icing recipe be enough to fill the middle, ice the whole cake and do some flowers or do I need to make one and a half recipe for the icing?
Can I make the batter all in one pan? And then slice it into 4?
Maybe? If you have a tall enough pan it fit all the batter + rising it might work. Baking time would of course increase
It was so delicious! And looked beautiful. The frosting was really amazing with both the cream cheese and the raspberry puree. Thank you, I'll be keeping this one for future reference!
This recipe looks amazing! I am a super beginner with baking though and I don’t have a stand mixer. I’m assuming I can still just use a hand mixer right?
Yes, a hand mixer will work just fine. Last time I made this cake I didn't have my stand mixer and I had no problems at all with just a hand mixer.
I would like to frost the cake without the additional piping. How much would would the measurements for just the frosting be? Thank you for your time.
The few swirls on top don't take a lot of icing. But if you only want to fill between the cake layers without frosting all around, you can half the recipe