I have to admit, the cake is not lacking calories. But despite this fact, it feels light, tangy and fresh; just the right thing to serve after a spicy barbecue dinner. You can’t be too generous with berries here, pile them high – it’s so worth it!

Makes one 10-inch cake, about 12 servings

For the cake:

  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • 2 cups fine granulated sugar
  • Finely grated zest of 2 lemons
  • 6 oz (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup yogurt, at room temperature (whole or low fat)
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp pure lemon extract
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice

For the filling:

  • ¾ cup whipping cream, chilled
  • 8 oz mascarpone cheese (homemade or store-bought), chilled
  • 1 ½ cups lemon curd, chilled
  • Assorted fresh berries

Make the cake:

Center an oven rack and preheat the oven to 350F. Generously butter a 10-inch deep Mary Ann pan or a 10-inch springform pan and dust with flour. Set aside.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the sugar and lemon zest. Rub with your fingertips to release the lemon oil.

In the bowl of the stand mixer or in a large bowl using a hand-held electric mixer, beat the butter until light and fluffy. Gradually add the lemon-flavored sugar beating on medium-high speed until well combined, pale in color and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. In a liquid measuring cup, combine the yogurt, ¼ cup lemon juice, vanilla and lemon extracts. Reduce the speed to low and mix in the flour mixture and the yogurt alternately in batches, beginning and ending with the flour, until just combined. Transfer the batter into the prepared pan, smooth the top.

Place the pan onto a cookie sheet and slide into the oven. Bake the cake until a wooden skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, about 45 to 50 minutes. Cool the cake on a cooling rack for 10 minutes, then unmold. Place the cake on the cooling rack set over the cookie sheet.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine ¼ cup granulated sugar and ¼ cup water. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Let boil for a minute. Take off the heat, stir in 2 tbsp lemon juice. Brush the syrup over the top and sides of still warm cake. Then let the cake cool completely on the rack before filling.

Make the filling, fill the cake:

In a medium bowl, using a hand-held electric mixer, whip the cream until firm peaks form. Set aside for a moment.

In another bowl, using the same hand-held electric mixer with the same attachment (to minimize a cleanup), whip the mascarpone until smooth and light. Beat in the lemon curd. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the whipped cream into the mascarpone-lemon mixture in two additions until incorporated. Spoon the filling over the top of the cake. Pile the berries over the filling. Refrigerate until serving time.

Although the best the day it’s assembled, the leftover cake was still delicious (and looking presentable) the following day. So, if you need, you can make it a day in advance.