Lemon and Frozen Berry Cake

I use loads of lemon – the acidity helps the rise, which can be a concern with GF baking. This cake has soured cream for extra acidity, but with plenty of sweet fruit and spices to balance it. (Why frozen berries? See the footnote.)

My fresh fruit muffins are great but if you prefer frosted cake, try this. Start the evening ahead, setting out the frozen fruit and butter.

Serves: up to 24

For the cake:

  • 380g gluten-free flour
  • 1 heaped tablespoon gluten-free baking powder
  • 180g frozen berries, defrosted/drained in a sieve over a bowl; chop as necessary for bite-sized pieces
  • 1/8 to 1 tsp each of two spices sympathetic to your fruit (allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg/mace, cloves, cardamom, ginger, etc)
  • 2 unwaxed lemons: finely grated zest, and juice
  • 150g unsalted butter, cubed and softened; plus additional cold butter for greasing tin
  • 260g caster sugar (golden or white)
  • 4 large eggs (they should total 250g – 270g when weighed in their shells)
  • 300ml (290g if weighing) soured cream

For the cream cheese topping:

  • 1 unwaxed lemon: all of finely grated zest, and 1/2 of the juice
  • 60g unsalted butter, softened
  • 150g full-fat cream cheese
  • 130g icing sugar (sift, if required, after measuring), plus extra for dusting (optional)
  • 1/8 to 1/4 tsp each of two spices sympathetic to your fruit (allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg/mace, cloves, cardamom, ginger, etc)
  • 120g frozen berries, defrosted/drained in a sieve over a bowl, with drained juices retained; chopped or kept whole, as you like, for garnish


  • A standard traybake tin 9″ x 12″ / 23cm x 30cm
  • Baking/parchment paper cut to line tin
  • Mixing bowls: 1 large and 1 medium
  • A fine sieve and a small bowl
  • Electric mixer (hand-held or stand)
  • A fine citrus grater, and a citrus juicer
  • Oven-safe plate
  • Cooling rack
  • Spatula or large metal spoon, for folding
  • Spatula or palette knife, for spreading (or a piping bag with the nozzle of your choice)


  1. Preheat oven to 180 C (160 C fan-assisted). Grease your tin and line the bottom and sides with baking paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, stir the flour, baking powder, fruit, spices, and lemon zest together. (Ensuring the fruit is fully coated will help keep the pieces from sinking during baking.)
  3. In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together, starting at low speed and gradually increasing to high speed until fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, with the lemon juice, whisking briskly continuously.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to to the wet, 1/3 at a time, alternating with the soured cream. Fold briskly after each addition. Remember, this is gluten-free, so you don’t have to worry about over-mixing – in fact, incorporate as much air as you can.
  5. Pour the batter into your prepared tin and smooth the top. Bake for around 40 minutes, turning halfway through for even baking, until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Cool the cake in its tin on a cooling rack (GF cakes can be too delicate to turn out of the tin while still hot).

Cream Cheese Topping:

  1. When the cake has baked, turn the oven off. Spread the lemon zest on an oven-safe plate, breaking up any clumps, and put in the oven (door ajar) to dry out as the oven cools.
  2. Beat the butter with the cream cheese on low speed until fluffy; then gradually add the icing sugar and spices, folding gently. You’ll want to scrape down the bowl really well several times.
  3. Add the lemon juice and a tablespoon or two of the defrosted fruit juices, and fold until combined. The consistency should be very fluffy, and light.
  4. Spread the topping over the cooled cake with a spatula or palette knife (if you’re feeling artistic, use a piping bag with a decorative nozzle). Sprinkle over the dried lemon zest, then the fruit, and dust (if you like) with more icing sugar. Slice the cake into 6 x 4 and serve.

Frozen Berries
Because defrosted frozen berries are much softer than fresh, I’m not sure this recipe would work with fresh berries. I developed it specifically because frozen berries are cheap and available year-round. They’re most economical to buy in mixed packages – ‘summer fruits’, ‘forest fruits’ etc; or, you could buy individual frozen fruit packages for slightly more money.
Adding the defrosted juices to the topping gives it a nice colour, and adds to the fresh taste.

What do the pictures show?
The recipe pictures show the results of a frozen ‘summer fruits’ mix, with the red and blackcurrants separated out for decoration, and the blackberries and raspberries put into the cake mix. I used 1/8 tsp ground cloves, some freshly grated nutmug, and 1/2 tsp each of allspice and cinnamon in the cake. The frosting had some freshly grated nutmug and 1/4 tsp allspice added in.

I’ve scaled up this Mari Williams recipe for a standard UK traybake tin, modified it to make it gluten-free and for frozen berries, and added my personal twists.


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