To make this easy lemon mascarpone cake, just toss everything together, pour into two pans and bake. Then sandwich together the cake layers with a ridiculously easy 2-ingredient lemon mascarpone cream. It’s classic Victoria sponge meets lemon cake – light, moist and delicious, and perfect for a special occasion or just a simple afternoon tea.
What’s mascarpone cheese?
Mascarpone is an Italian cream cheese that’s made from fresh cream. It has a smooth texture and a mild and rich flavor. It’s one of the main ingredients in Italian tiramisu, and is also great in other desserts such as cheesecakes.
Both this no-bake ginger and white chocolate cheesecake and this baked white chocolate cheesecake contain mascarpone, too. Try these mascarpone recipes as well – they’re delicious!
Why this is a great layer cake
Is there such thing as a layer cake snob?
I don’t mind if it doesn’t look perfect (rustic rules), but I want it to taste as good as it sounds. Like this really good, really simple chocolate orange cake. Or this peanut butter, banana and chocolate chip cake which hits the spot every time.
This mascarpone lemon cake makes the cut because:
- It starts with the most basic vanilla cake recipe (otherwise known as Victoria Sponge). Traditionally you make it with equal amounts of butter, sugar and flour. Except I like to reduce the sugar just a little… 😉
- It’s an all in one cake recipe. In other words, throw everything into the bowl and mix! No creaming of butter and sugar first, I promise. Just a bit of careful mixing either in a food processor (= super easy) or with an electric mixer (=pretty easy too).
- It’s sandwiched together with a 2-ingredient mascarpone and lemon curd cream. How easy is that? Also great for people who aren’t fans of a whipped cream filling (like myself). And no cream whipping necessary!
In summary, this must be the easiest Victoria sponge cake recipe. Perfect if you aren’t into fussy baking recipes, but you still want an impressive and crowd pleasing layer cake.
What’s a Victoria sponge? (just in case you aren’t British and were wondering) It’s an airy vanilla cake traditionally filled with fresh cream and jam.
This lemon mascarpone cake has all the yummy-ness but is even easier to make – and it’s perfect for lemon lovers!
About the ingredients
For the easy cake batter
Butter: Use real, good quality unsalted butter. Get it out of the fridge a little while before you’re ready to bake your cake. If you live in a hot country like I do, it’s a fine balance. You want soft but not melted butter!
Sugar: Fine/Caster sugar is best. But I sometimes use regular sugar, and the cake still turns out fine.
Eggs: You need 4 large eggs for this cake. I like to use the best quality I can get!
Vanilla: I usually use a teaspoon of vanilla essence but if you want to be a bit fancy pants, you can use a real vanilla pod instead.
Self-raising flour: Just a reminder that self-rising flour (US) is not the same as self-raising flour. If you’re in the USA and using self-rising flour, add an extra teaspoon of baking powder.
Alternatively you can use all-purpose/plain flour and add 2 teaspoons baking powder for each cup of flour.
Baking powder: Just a teaspoon for extra ‘oomph’!
Milk: You only need a few tablespoons. Add it little by little until you have the right consistency. The batter should easily drop off a wooden spoon without being too runny.
Optional: Add some lemon zest to the cake batter for even more yummy lemon flavor in your cake.
For the lemon mascarpone cream and topping
Mascarpone cheese: Here in Australia mascarpone usually comes in 250 gram tubs (a UK/Aussie cup). The amount doesn’t have to be exact though so don’t buy another tub just to make it up to 250 grams.
Lemon curd: Here’s where the magic happens. All you have to do is roughly mix a few tablespoons of lemon curd into the mascarpone cheese. Voila – you have a stupidly simple (but amazing tasting) cake filling that’s a bit different to ‘just’ fresh cream.
To keep this lemon layer cake super easy, I always use ready-made lemon curd from the store. Find out how to make your own lemon curd from Sally at Sally’s Baking Recipes.
Icing sugar (US = confectioners’ sugar): No fussy toppings here. Just sprinkle a little icing sugar over the top of the cake to serve. Do this just before serving so it doesn’t have time to dissolve into the cake.
How to make it
The step-by-step guide below should help you make the recipe perfectly first time. Scroll down to the end for the full recipe including ingredient amounts.
In a food processor
Steps 1 and 2: I usually start by pulsing the softened butter with the sugar for a few seconds until well combined.
Strictly speaking you could throw all the batter ingredients in together, but I like to make sure the butter is well mixed in before adding the flour. This avoids overmixing and making your cake too dense.
Steps 3 and 4: Throw in all of the other batter ingredients, including the flour, and process for a few seconds. Just until well combined. As with any cake, you don’t want to overmix.
Steps 5 and 6: Divide batter roughly in two and scrape into two prepared cake pans. Smooth down with a spatula and bake for about 25 minutes.
With a hand-held whisk
There isn’t too much difference in the method. Just use a hand mixer to combine the softened butter and sugar first in a large bowl. Then briefly whisk in the other batter ingredients.
The only difference is that there’s no need for the extra teaspoon of baking powder if you mix by hand. I have to admit that I don’t know why!
Step 7: To make the mascarpone cake filling, mix a few tablespoons of lemon curd into the mascarpone cheese.
Step 8: Spread it all over one of the cakes. Don’t be shy!
Step 9: Spoon more lemon curd over the top. Again, don’t be shy!
Step 10: Place the second cake layer over the top and push down a little. Some lemon curd might drip down the sides, but this adds to the rustic effect!
Last but not least, sprinkle over a bit of icing sugar.
Then serve and impress with your simple but classy mascarpone cake!
- Use slightly softened butter so that it combines with the sugar easily. Just try to remember to get it out of the fridge shortly before you’re ready to make the batter.
- Only mix until the ingredients are well combined, whether you make the batter with a hand-held whisk or food processor (or even a stand mixer). If you overmix your cake can end up tougher and heavier than it should be.
- When you think the cakes are cooked, quickly flip them over and check they’re cooked on the bottom. If they aren’t quite done, pop them back into the oven for a few more minutes.
Absolutely! Just follow the instructions for the hand-held whisk method. Again, don’t overmix.
Actually, no. Self-raising flour contains more baking powder. You can use self-rising flour – just add an extra teaspoon of baking powder. Or just use plain/all-purpose flour and add 2 teaspoons of baking powder per cup.
Mascarpone cake is best eaten the same day. If there are any leftovers, store it in the fridge to keep the mascarpone cheese filling fresh. But if you cover it well, the cake shouldn’t dry out overnight. Take it out of the fridge a while before serving to let it come back to room temperature and it’ll still be very tasty.
You can. Wrap the cakes really well individually and make and add the filling when you’re ready to eat the cake. You can also freeze it after you’ve added the filling – either whole or in separate pieces. Just wrap well and freeze for up to 3 months. Defrost and enjoy!
The easiest substitute for mascarpone cheese in this cake is whipped cream. Crème fraiche, which tastes similar to mascarpone, would also work.
Alternative ways to make it
If you wanted to you could quite easily make this very simple lemon layer cake a bit fancier.
Here are some ideas:
- Add some blueberries into the cake batter. You’ll end up with a simple lemon blueberry cake.
- At the last minute, top the cake with some freshly sliced strawberries.
- Spoon passionfruit pulp over the lemon mascarpone cream instead of extra lemon curd. Either fresh passionfruit or canned works.
- Similar to the above! There is also a blueberry passionfruit version of this cake that will blow your mind. Full instructions with the recipe below!
- Be really fancy. Make a little extra lemon mascarpone cream and pipe little swirls around the edge of the top of the cake. Leave like that or top the cream with extra lemon curd or fruit.
- Make extra filling for the top and sides of the cake. Decorate with fruit.
More showstopper desserts
- 30-minute healthy chocolate cake (yes, really, healthy chocolate cake)
- This San Sebastian cheesecake looks burnt, but it isn’t. A basque burnt cheesecake is the ultimate easy show-stopping dessert, perfect for guests.
- 6-ingredient gooey Swedish chocolate cake (Takes just 30 minutes and everyone loves it!)
- 5-minute chocolate pots (And only 4 ingredients!)
- Lemon posset with blueberries and macadamia shortbread (For the lemon lovers among you!)
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Lemon Mascarpone Cake
Equipment (affiliate links)
Ingredients (UK/Australia? Click below for grams/ml)
- 8 ounces butter (2 sticks) unsalted, soft
- 1 cup sugar I used fine / caster sugar (based on a US cup size)
- 1 tsp vanilla essence
- 4 eggs large
- 1¾ cups self raising flour self-raising flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 3 tbsp milk (3 to 4 tablespoons)
- icing / confectioner’s sugar to decorate
For the cream
- 1 cup mascarpone cheese 1 cup mascarpone cheese
- 8 tablespoons lemon curd or more, to taste (you need around 4 tablespoons to mix into the mascarpone and 4 to dollop over the top of the filling)
- Preheat oven to 355F/180C. Line (with baking paper) and butter two 7” sandwich cake pans.
- Process the soft butter and sugar together in the food processor for a few seconds. Alternatively, mix with a hand-held whisk. Then add the vanilla, eggs, flour and baking powder and mix until just combined and smooth. Be careful not to over-mix.
- Whisk in the milk gradually until the mixture is a soft dropping consistency. You may not need to use it all.
- Pour the batter equally into the pans and bake for about 25 mins, until a metal skewer or knife comes out clean.
- Cool the cakes for 10 minutes in the pans, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely.
- Meanwhile, make the lemon mascarpone cream. Simply whisk 4 tablespoons of the lemon curd into the mascarpone cheese, then spread thickly over one of the cakes. Dollop the rest of the lemon curd (you don't have to use it all) over the top of the filling, then sandwich the cakes together.
- Just before serving, dust with icing/confectioner's sugar.