Jo Pratt’s lemon and blackberry layer cake recipe

Whether it’s a celebration or just an afternoon treat, this is perfect. Unlike standard butter-based sponges, it is made with oil which gives a lovely moistness and makes it last a few days.

lemon and blackberry layer cake
Malou Burger


200g caster sugar
3 eggs
200g self-raising flour
225g sunflower oil, plus extra for greasing
150ml milk
Finely grated zest of 2 lemons
1⁄2 tsp fine sea salt

200g blackberries, fresh or frozen (defrosted if frozen)
50g caster sugar
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp arrowroot powder

225g butter, softened
375g icing sugar, sifted
2 tbsp milk
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon

  1. Heat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Brush two 20cm loose-bottomed cake tins with oil and line with parchment.
  2. To make the sponge, place the sugar and eggs in a mixing bowl then whisk until they are light in colour and frothy. Add the remaining ingredients. Stir until combined then pour evenly between the two cake tins.
  3. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown and the sponge is just coming away from the edge of the tins. Set aside to cool for 5 minutes, then run a palette knife around the inside edge of the tins. Carefully turn the cakes out on to a rack to cool completely.
  4. To make the compote, put the blackberries, sugar and lemon juice in a saucepan. Bring to a simmer and cook over a low–medium heat for 10 minutes or until the blackberries have broken down. Push through a sieve then return to a clean saucepan. Mix the arrowroot with 1 tsp water to form a paste. Stir into the purée and cook over a medium heat, stirring all the time until just simmering. Set aside to cool – it will thicken slightly as it cools.
  5. Place the ingredients for the buttercream in a large bowl or the bowl of an stand mixer. Set your mixer (or electric beaters) to a low speed and gradually increase it until you have a smooth, creamy buttercream.
  6. To assemble, place one cake upside down and spread it with some buttercream. Turn the other cake upside down and spread a generous layer of blackberry compote then sandwich them together. Spread a thick layer of buttercream on the top and sides of the cake, smoothing the edges with a palette knife (for a super-smooth finish, dip the knife into hot water before you spread the buttercream). Finish by swirling some compote through the buttercream on the top of the cake.

Be flexible

GLUTEN-FREE Swap the flour for a gluten-free flour blend and add an additional 50ml milk to the cake batter.

DAIRY-FREE Use a non-dairy milk in the cake such as soya, almond or my favourite, fresh coconut milk. For the lemon buttercream, swap butter for a plant-based alternative (preferably a firm, not spreadable, one).

Now buy the book

The Flexible Baker
Our recipes are from The Flexible Baker by Jo Pratt, published by White Lion, price £20. To order a copy for £17 until 20 March, go to or call 020 3176 2937. Free UK delivery on orders over £20.