This Raspberry Lemon Loaf is the best possible combination of fresh raspberries and lemons in a sweet loaf cake. It is tangy, bright and citrusy. It is the most incredible spring dessert.
Raspberry and lemon are two of my favorite flavors when it comes to dessert, and they go so well together. Put the two together in a loaf pan, and the result is just bursting with flavor. This Raspberry Lemon Loaf has taken many, many tries over many years, and more recently many months to get this just right, but it is perfect.
Below is a list of all of the things that I tried that did not work - and I tried a lot. Then further below is a list of the reasons why this specific recipe works really well. After so many different variations with lots of different types of ingredients, I have written up the final perfect version below! I hope you love it as much as I do!!
What Didn’t Work
Full Fat Plain Yogurt: I have tried making a lemon loaf using a full cup of plain full fat yogurt as the key ingredient along with eggs and vegetable oil, and it was quite good, but not incredible. In the final version I use only ¼ cup of plain full fat yogurt.
Sour Cream: I’ve tried switching out the yogurt for sour cream, but the sour cream was just too intense and too creamy (if thats possible) and not in a good way.
Lemon Extract: I’ve tried using more lemon extract and less lemon juice and zest, but the lemon extract, while good, still tastes a bit manufactured.
Cream Cheese: One variation that I made included swirls of cream cheese for extra tang, but it just didn’t make sense taste wise in the loaf. It didn’t meld well with the other ingredients.
Extra Lemon Juice: Increasing the lemon flavor by drizzling lots of lemon juice over the final loaf didn’t work either. The juice by itself in a larger quantity was too acidic and off putting. It tasted too sour.
Modeling after my Banana Bread: When all else fails I go back to my banana bread and see if I can model a recipe after my tried and true banana bread. But this didn’t work either! I replaced the mashed bananas with plain yogurt and a small amount of lemon juice, but it was pretty boring.
What Did Work:
Using a little bit of everything was really the trick. In this recipe I use butter, vegetable oil, plain full fat yogurt and whole milk along with eggs and two full heaping tablespoons of lemon zest. Then I top the loaf with lemon drizzle and lemon glaze. Though if you skipped both the drizzle and the glaze it would still be excellent.
It really is using a little bit of everything that makes it work. In general, I try to avoid using too many ingredients because it can just be a bit too much to buy everything needed at the store, and sometimes it doesn't make the end result all that much better. But in this case, each ingredient listed below is really necessary, which I've verified with all of the different versions of this raspberry lemon loaf that I've tried.
Plain Full Fat Yogurt: This gives the loaf extra flavor and tang.
Butter: The fat in the butter gives the loaf plenty of flavor so that it’s not boring.
Eggs: Gives the loaf richness, and helps it to look yellow/lemony.
Vegetable oil: Prevents the loaf from being too dense. The oil lightens it up a bit.
Whole Milk: More fat in the milk adds flavor and thins out the batter.
Lemon Zest: This is a big one: one of the big keys here is to include 2 large heaping tablespoons of lemon zest. This is where a lot of the lemon flavor in the loaf itself comes from. This is the zest from 3 regular or 2 large lemons.
Raspberries: Adding fresh raspberries in the middle makes each bite taste so intensely raspberry and lemony at the same time. Coat the raspberries in a tiny bit of flour to prevent them from sinking to the bottom.
Lemon Drizzle: Drizzling a small amount of lemon juice combined with ¼ cup sugar gives the loaf that bright lemony taste, ensuring that it tastes like fresh lemons rather than just lemon extract.
Lemon Glaze: To top it off and to ensure that it is not boring, but rather full of bold lemon-y-ness, I added a simple lemon glaze on top.
It’s the combination of all of these things that make this not just good, but incredible.
Lemon Zest and Fresh Raspberries:
The biggest thing that gives this loaf cake its bright flavor is the lemon zest and the fresh raspberries. Lemon zest adds lots of lemony flavor without adding any lemon juice which would add too much acidity. Adding a full two tablespoons allows you to avoid adding lemon extract, which can sometimes not taste as real as fresh lemons.
This is a combination of lemon juice and sugar to make a lemon syrup. It is drizzled over the top of the cake while still warm adding moisture and extra lemon flavor. Rather than making the syrup on the stovetop, I microwave it in a bowl for 30 seconds, give it a quick stir and add another 30 seconds. This saves you the hassle of cleaning a saucepan later.
For another layer of lemon on this Raspberry Lemon Loaf cake, make a quick lemon glaze with lemon juice and powdered sugar. Its extra tart and sweet and the perfect topping.
Because this Raspberry Lemon Loaf includes fresh raspberries it is best eaten the same day it’s made or the day after. Though you likely won’t have leftovers after your first bite. I store this on the counter wrapped in plastic wrap or tinfoil.
If you make this Raspberry Lemon Loaf, I'd love to hear from you and learn how it went. Leave a rating and a comment down below and let me know how it turns out. Your feedback means a lot!
If you're looking for more dessert recipes, you might love these below:
Raspberry Lemon Loaf
- ¼ cup butter, softened
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 2 tbsp lemon zest (about 3 lemons)
- 2 large eggs
- ⅓ cup vegetable oil
- ⅓ cup whole milk
- ¼ cup plain full fat yogurt
- 1½ cups all-purpose flour
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 tsps baking powder
- 1 cup fresh raspberries
- ½ tbsp flour
- ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- ¾ cup powdered sugar
Raspberry Lemon Loaf
- Preheat the oven to 350℉.
- Line a loaf pan with parchment paper and butter the paper and pan.
- In a large bowl, cream together the butter, sugar and lemon zest. Add the eggs and beat until combined. Add the vegetable oil, milk, and yogurt and mix until combined.
- In a separate bowl combine the flour, salt and baking powder.
- Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients a little at a time, mixing as little as possible, just until the dry ingredients are no longer dry.
- In a small bowl combine the raspberries with ½ tbsp all-purpose flour. This prevents the raspberries from sinking to the bottom of the loaf.
- Gently fold the raspberries into the batter.
- Gently pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Bake for 50-55 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
- While the Raspberry Lemon Loaf is in the oven, make the Lemon Drizzle. Combine ¼ cup lemon juice (about the juice of 1 lemon) and ¼ cup granulated sugar in a small bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds, stir, then microwave again for 30 seconds.
- When the Raspberry Lemon Loaf comes out of the oven, slowly pour the lemon drizzle over the loaf so that it soaks into the still hot loaf.
- To make the lemon glaze combine 2 tbsp lemon juice with the powdered sugar. Once the loaf has fully cooled, pour the lemon glaze over the top of the loaf.