My brother’s birthday is next weekend! Because he adores lemon treats—anything from cookies to cupcakes to scones to cheesecake and more—I’m helping him celebrate by declaring this Lemon Week on the blog. I don’t know who’s more excited about that… Me, who gets to bake everything, or him, who gets to eat it all!
For my brother’s freshman year of college, my family helped him get settled into his dorm room during Move-In Weekend, just a few days before his birthday. He lived in a suite with three other boys, and although they were all very nice, I felt really badly that my brother would spend his special day with nearly complete strangers.
So when my brother walked out to the car to grab another box of school supplies, I exchanged numbers with one of his suitemates and explained my idea to surprise my brother for his birthday. Since the dorm building had a gated entrance, that suitemate agreed to keep me posted on their dinner plans and let me in when I brought a homemade cake for dessert.
The following Thursday evening, I carefully loaded the lemon bundt cake into the backseat of my car, and my guy and I drove 80 miles south to the college. I texted my brother’s suitemate from the parking garage across the street from their dorm, and he immediately opened the gate and led me up to their room.
He had revealed the surprise to the two other suitemates and a few other people on their floor, so they gathered behind me when I opened the door and shouted, “Happy birthday!”
My brother looked up from his laptop, completely shocked and startled, and he did a double-take when he saw me standing in the front of the people holding his cake and birthday candles. A huge grin quickly spread across his face, spanning from ear to ear, and that reaction was even sweeter than the dessert in my hands!
Since he already graduated from college, I can’t surprise him anymore… But I can still make him a special birthday dessert! And this year, he requested something light and extra fruity, so I created this Simple Raspberry Lemon Cake for him.
The cake starts out with whole wheat pastry flour. Whole wheat pastry flour still has the same health benefits as regular whole wheat flour but is lighter in taste and texture, making it perfect for cakes and pastries. The wheaty taste is so subtle that you can’t really detect it through the bright citrus and tangy berries! If you don’t have whole wheat pastry flour, white whole wheat flour would be a great substitute.
This entire cake only contains 1 tablespoon of butter! The rest of its tender texture comes from my favorite ingredient in healthier baking. Can you guess what it is? I’ve used it in everything from cupcakes and muffins to scones and frosting… It’s Greek yogurt! Greek yogurt provides the same moisture as extra butter or oil for a fraction of the calories, and it gives the cake a little protein boost too.
When it comes to lemon baked goodies, the majority of the bright sunshiny flavor actually comes from the lemon zest. The citrus taste is much more concentrated in the oils in the skin than in the juice, so don’t skip the zest! For the best taste, select lemons that are purely yellow without any green. Those greenish spots are too bitter!
And now for the best part… The fruity topping! My brother is trying to cut down on added sugar, so I used fresh raspberries for the top of the cake instead of frosting. As soon as he saw the cake, he exclaimed, “Wow, that looks amazing!!” That reaction made my heart glow.
We’ll need between 1 ½ to 2 pints of fresh raspberries to completely cover the top of the batter. You can either nestle them in on their side or upside down to hide the hole in the bottom—it’s up to you! If you choose the latter, you’ll need closer to 2 pints, whereas the former requires closer to 1 ½. Gently press them into the batter to ensure they stick before popping the pan in the oven.
Happy birthday to my brother! Who wants to help us celebrate by eating a slice?? 😉
And when you make your own, remember to snap a picture and share it on Instagram using #amyshealthybaking and tagging @amyshealthybaking IN the photo itself! (That guarantees I’ll see your picture! 🙂 ) I’d love to see your healthy raspberry lemon cake!
Simple Raspberry Lemon Cake
- 2 cups (240g) whole wheat pastry flour or gluten-free flour* (measured like this)
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 ½ tbsp (10g) lemon zest (about 1 very large)
- 1 tbsp (14g) unsalted butter or coconut oil, melted and cooled slightly
- 2 large egg whites, room temperature
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- ¼ cup (60g) plain nonfat Greek yogurt
- ½ cup (120mL) agave
- ¼ cup (60mL) freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 1 very large)
- ¼ cup (60mL) nonfat milk
- 2 cups (280g) fresh raspberries (about 1 ½ pints)
- Preheat the oven to 350°F, and lightly coat a 9”-round springform pan with nonstick cooking spray.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and lemon zest. In a separate bowl, whisk together the butter, egg, and vanilla. Mix in the Greek yogurt, stirring until no large lumps remain. Stir in the agave and lemon juice. Alternate between adding the flour mixture and milk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture, and stirring just until incorporated. (For best results, add the flour mixture in 3 equal parts.)
- Spread the batter into the prepared pan. Arrange the raspberries in a circular pattern, beginning with the outer rim before finishing with the interior, and gently press each into the batter. (See the photos in the blog post above, where the raspberries were placed on their sides.) Bake at 350°F for 32-37 minutes. Place the cake pan onto a wire rack, and let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing the sides of the pan. Let the cake cool completely before serving.