Raspberry Streusel Cake
Today, my sweet George turns one. The little guy who gave us a fright by coming a few weeks early. The baby who greets me every morning with smiles and wildly kicking legs. My bittiest buddy turns one today and while we’ll celebrate his life this weekend with friends, balloons, and even this raspberry streusel cake, today I’m thinking about all the days it took us to get here and the opportunity of the days that are to come.
Sometimes I find myself daydreaming about what memories my kids will have of me. Maybe the smell of homemade honey oat bread when they come home from school. They might recall sprinkling chocolate chips into the bowl of the stand mixer or drizzling honey on the tops of biscuits fresh from the oven. Maybe the sound of butter sizzling, popping on the stove top, or even me cursing under my breath at a burned wrist or a scorched sauce.
My hope is that my time spent in the kitchen will one day translate to my kids as an act of love. I want them to know that the time spent frosting birthday cakes and flipping pancakes and blowing on hot mugs of marshmallow-topped cocoa was an effort to celebrate their existence. To breathe life and fun into the ordinary moments we shared together.
The part that makes me smile and puffs my chest with hope is that I really think they’ll get it. I think they’ll know.
Like with anything else, time and effort takes intention. And when your intentions are to feed your family, not just physically, but also emotionally, mentally, and spiritually, there’s bound to be love found in those spaces. In the years to come, every bite of cake and lit birthday candle has the potential to serve as an homage to the affection we shared in those brief moments around the table and in the kitchen.
So if my children read this someday, please know that you are the reason for so many meals, so many plates of desserts. You make pans of cinnamon rolls and slices of homemade bread worthwhile. You make ordinary moments an opportunity for a memory, a chance to connect.
And to my darling George- you are a quiet and gentle joy that I didn’t know I needed. Your life is brimming with possibility and hope, and I pray that I get to celebrate a lifetime of birthdays by your side.
Now that I’m officially a ball of emotions, let’s talk about this raspberry streusel cake.
This cake is so many things. So many flavors, so many textures, so many tastebuds fully satisfied. The sweetest part? You can make almost all of the cake elements in advance. I just love an impressive dessert that is a cinch to put together.
To start, we make the cake layers. These are vanilla butter cakes sweetened with both brown and white sugar, with an extra egg thrown in for insurance. The cake layers are thin, which is perfect, because the star of this show is all of the fillings that go in between them. First, a sweet and tart raspberry filling that takes just a few ingredients and less than 10 minutes to throw together. In a pinch, you could substitute a high quality jam or preserve, but it’s so easy to put together that there’s hardly any reason not to. Next, the streusel crumbs. These brown sugar cinnamon crumbles are impossible to stop eating and add a delightful crunch in between all of the soft filling, frosting, and cake layers. I prefer to let my crumbs get even a little extra crunchy because they will soften slightly once they get inside the cake. The proverbial and literal icing on this raspberry streusel cake is a simple cream cheese buttercream. This frosting is sweet enough to offset the raspberries, but has just enough tang to stand on it’s own. This is the only cream cheese frosting recipe you’ll ever want to make from here on out. Scout’s honor.
Once all of the elements for this raspberry streusel cake are made, you can assemble the cake as desired. I pipe a dam of frosting around each layer of cake and then fill in the dam with the raspberry compote. Each layer gets a sprinkle of streusel crumbs as they are stacked together, and then the whole cake gets a healthy coating of frosting. If you need a brush up on cake baking tips prior to assembling this raspberry streusel cake, check out my favorite hints that I typed out here.
I plan to serve this raspberry streusel cake at George’s birthday party this weekend, and you can’t say you blame me! This decadent treat is a celebration cake if there’s ever been one, with each bite offering a new taste, different in flavor and texture from the last. I sincerely hope you’ll consider making this for your next celebration- you won’t be disappointed.
Happy birthday to my little George and happy Thursday to all of you. Cheers!
If you like this raspberry streusel cake, you should try:
- 1/3 cup (40 gm) flour
- 1/3 cup (70 gm) brown sugar
- 1/3 cup (30 gm) quick cooking oats
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
- 3 tablespoons (40 gm) unsalted butter, melted
- 1-1/2 cups (150 gm) raspberries (frozen or fresh)
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons water
- ¼ cup (50 gm) sugar
- 2-1/2 cups (325 gm) cake flour
- 2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 cup (225 gm) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 cup (200 gm) sugar
- ¾ cup (165 gm) packed brown sugar
- 4 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1-1/2 cups (360 mL) buttermilk
- 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla
- 1-1/2 cups (285 gm) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 block/ 8 ounces (225 gm) cream cheese, room temperature
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla
- Appx. 5 cups/ 1-1/2 pounds (680 gm) of powdered sugar
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Whisk the flour, brown sugar, oats, and salt together in a medium sized bowl. Add the melted butter and fold together until the ingredients clump into dime-sized bits. Spread out on a sheet pan and bake in the preheated oven, tossing occasionally, for 10-12 minutes or until the streusel is golden brown. Allow to cool completely before using or storing. Streusel can be made ahead and stored at room temperature for a week, or in the freezer for a couple of months.
- Combine all of the ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir well to evenly coat the raspberries. As the raspberries cook, smash with the back of a fork or with a potato masher. Once the mixture is smooth, bring to a boil, stirring regularly, until the mixture has thickened slightly. Remove from heat to a small bowl and cover the top with plastic wrap. Chill completely in the refrigerator completely prior to using.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease the sides and line the bottoms of 3-8” round cake pans with parchment paper and set aside.
- In a small bowl, combine the cake flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside.
- In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter, sugar, and brown sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Scrape the sides of the bowl with a spatula and add each egg one at a time on low speed, mixing just until combined. Scrape the sides of the bowl. Add about 1/3 of the dry ingredients followed by the vanilla and about half of the buttermilk. Mix until combined and then repeat this process once more, finishing by adding the last third of the dry ingredients. Scrape the sides of the bowl and fold in any unincorporated bits of batter.
- Distribute the batter evenly among the three pans and bake in the preheated oven 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Allow to cool completely prior to assembling cake.
- In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter on medium speed (I use 4 on my stand mixer) for 2-3 minutes until light and creamy, scraping the bowl as necessary. Add the cream cheese and beat to incorporate for an additional minute. Add the salt, vanilla, and powdered sugar and beat on low speed until incorporated. Scrape the sides of the bowl and continue to beat until well combined. Do not overbeat as this can cause the cream cheese to loosen. If needed, add a tablespoon of water or milk at a time to get the frosting the right consistency. Refrigerate as needed to thicken the frosting up.
- Use a serrated knife to level the cakes. Smooth a small amount of frosting on an 8” cake board or plate and center a single cake layer on top. Using a piping bag (see notes) fitted with a large round tip, pipe a dam around the outer rim of the top of the cake. The dam should be at least ¼” tall to prevent the raspberry filling from squirting out the sides. Spread approximately half of the raspberry filling inside the dam and sprinkle with about 1/3 of the streusel crumbs. Pipe a bit of frosting on top of the raspberry filling to help the next layer of cake stick. Stack the second cake layer on top and repeat the entire process once more. Place the final cake layer on top. Spread a thin coat of frosting (crumb coat) all over the cake and allow it to set up in the fridge prior to applying the final coat of frosting. You can skip this step if desired. Decorate the top of the cake with a few streusel crumbs and spare raspberries, if desired. Cake will keep in the refrigerator covered in plastic for up to three days.
- If you don’t have a piping bag, you can place 1-1/2 cups of frosting in a freezer Ziploc bag. Seal the bag and snip one of the corners off the end of the bag and use that to pipe frosting.
- You can substitute different varieties of berries here, but the amount of sugar needed in the filling will differ based on which berry you choose. Adjust according to your preference.