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Live, Love, Bake! With Monique Polanco: Lemon Berry Cake

Live, Love, Bake! With Monique Polanco: Lemon Berry Cake

Photo by Monique Polanco

Savor the sweet moments of summer with fresh berries and lemon curd in a moist, lemon-scented layer cake.

When you think of summer, you’re reminded of light desserts made with fresh ingredients. This lemon berry cake is all that and more — the perfect cake for your summer entertaining and celebrations!

In my family, we always had homemade cake at gatherings, especially during the summer. My grandmother was famous for her southern pound cake. That rich, buttery, and “oh so delicious” cake was the centerpiece for all our desserts. She would often add lemon flavoring to the batter, which made it even better. And when we ate it, adding fresh berries was always an option.

This dessert is a twist on one of my family’s beloved recipes. Moist lemon cake is layered with smooth lemon curd and mixed berry compote, then frosted with a rich cream cheese frosting. The cake has a rustic look with amazing fruit flavors.

Lemon curd is a type of fruit curd made with eggs, sugar, butter, and fruit juice, which is usually a citrus, like lemon, lime, or grapefruit. But all types of fruit juices or purées can be used. Curd is a great ingredient to accompany baked goods, including layer cakes.

Fresh blueberries and blackberries are used in this recipe. The berries are cooked with a small amount of sugar, lemon juice, and water, just until they begin to break down. After removing the compote from the heat, you’ll want to let the mixture cool. The compote can then be either placed into the refrigerator to cool further or left at room temperature before adding it to the cake layers.

Lemon Berry Cake

Prep time: 40 minutes

Cook time: 1 hour 10 minutes

Servings: 12 slices


Lemon Curd

  • 4 egg yolks
  • ⅓ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp lemon zest
  • ⅓ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 tbsp heavy cream
  • 6 tbsp butter

Mixed Berry Compote

  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • 1 six-ounce carton fresh blackberries
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp water


  • 1 ¾ cups sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp butter, room temperature
  • 4 eggs + 1 egg white, room temperature
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 1 ½ tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp lemon zest
  • 3 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp + 1 tsp baking powder
  • ¾ tsp baking soda
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • ¾ cup buttermilk, room temperature
  • 1 ½ cups sour cream, room temperature


  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • ½ cup butter (1 stick)
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp heavy cream
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract


  • Fresh flowers
  • Blueberries
  • Blackberries


Lemon Curd

In a small saucepan, add the egg yolks, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, cornstarch and heavy cream; whisk by hand to combine. Cook over low to medium heat, whisking constantly, until mixture becomes thick, about 5–10 minutes.

Remove the curd from the heat and immediately strain through a fine mesh sieve by pushing the curd using a spoon or rubber spatula. Discard any small pieces of cooked egg left in the sieve. Add the butter and whisk until it’s completely melted. Place the curd in an airtight container. Refrigerate it for 2 hours or overnight.

Mixed Berry Compote

Add blueberries and blackberries to a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the sugar, lemon juice, and water. Cook the fruit for 10–15 minutes, stirring every few minutes until the berries start to break down. Remove from heat and cool. Once cooled, place in a container with a lid, and refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight.


In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, or in a large mixing bowl with a hand mixer, beat the eggs and sugar on medium speed for 3–4 minutes, until the mixture is fluffy and lighter in color. Add the butter, oil, vanilla extract, lemon juice, and lemon zest and beat the mixture for about 30 seconds. Add in the sour cream and buttermilk and mix until incorporated. Add the baking powder, baking soda, and salt, then add the flour 1 cup at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. After adding the last portion of flour, beat the batter just until combined.

Divide the batter into 3 eight-inch pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 40–45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with a few crumbs. Cool completely on a wire rack.


Add butter, cream cheese, and powdered sugar to a stand mixer. Mix on medium speed while adding vanilla and heavy cream. Set aside.


Level each cake layer with a knife or a cake leveler. Place one layer on a cake plate. Add about 1 cup of the cream cheese frosting into a piping bag or a plastic zip bag and cut off about ½ inch off the tip of the bag. Pipe a ring of frosting around the outside. With an offset spatula, spread 2–3 tablespoons of the lemon curd inside the ring of frosting. Spread to cover the whole area. Add 2–3 tablespoons of the mixed berry compote on top of the lemon curd. Place a second layer of cake on top. Repeat, adding the frosting ring, lemon curd, and berry compote on the second layer. Place the third layer on top, facedown.

Add frosting around the sides and to the top of the cake. Use a large scraper to scrape the sides of the cake while leaving parts of the sides of the cake exposed. This will give it a more rustic look. Refrigerate the cake again for about 30 minutes or until the frosting is set.

Garnish the cake with flowers, blueberries, and blackberries. And you’re done!

Monique Polanco is a cookbook author, food photographer, and food blogger for her blog, Peaches2Peaches. She resides in Rockland County with her family.


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