High altitude baking: Raspberry-lemon cookie cake (recipe) | VailDaily.com

High altitude baking: Raspberry-lemon cookie cake (recipe)

Raspberry-lemon cookie cake is two large shortbread cookies with raspberry filling.
Courtesy Vera Dawson |

Editor’s note: High altitudes makes cookies spread in the pan, cakes fall and few baked goods turn out as they do at sea level. This twice-monthly column presents recipes and tips that make baking in the mountains successful.

Pretty and tasty — that’s what I scribbled on this recipe the first time I made it. Though it looks like a cake, it’s really two big shortbread cookies embracing a raspberry filling topped with a lemon glaze. The use of cookies makes the dessert sturdier and more casual than a layer cake — perfect for a picnic or dinner on the deck.

If you have only one 8-inch cake pan, use it twice, letting it cool completely between uses and re-greasing and lining it before the second use. The dessert is best after the filling has time to soften the cookies, so make it at least eight hours and up to two days before serving. It can be made over two days, making the dough and filling on the first day and baking, filling and topping the cookies on the second.

Raspberry-Lemon Cookie Cake

(Make in two 8-inch cake pans. Yields eight to 10 servings.)

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1 1/3 cups bleached all-purpose flour (spoon and level)

¾ teaspoon baking powder

½ cup superfine granulated sugar, preferably Baker’s

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon salt

11 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 medium egg


Generous ½ cup high-quality, thick seedless raspberry preserves

½ teaspoon fresh lemon juice


2-3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1-1 ½ cups lump-free confectioners’ sugar

Fresh raspberries, optional

Make the cookies: Grease the cake pans with a vegetable oil-flour spray, line the bottoms with a parchment circle, and grease them. Set aside. Combine the flour, baking powder, sugar, cinnamon and salt in the bowl of a food processor, and pulse until combined. Cut the butter into 22 pieces, add them and pulse until the mixture forms coarse crumbs. Add the egg, and pulse until large, moist curds form. Dump the mixture onto a sheet of waxed paper, knead gently until smooth, divide in half, form each half into a 6-inch disc, wrap and refrigerate for about 30 minutes or up to a day.

While the cookie dough refrigerates, make the filling: Spoon the preserves into a small saucepan, add the lemon juice and while stirring, bring to a boil on the stovetop over medium-low heat. Reduce heat to a slow simmer, and continue to stir for about 5 to 8 minutes so the mixture thickens. (It will get runny as it’s heated and then, as it simmers, liquid within the preserves will evaporate, so when it’s cooled, it will be thicker.) Remove from the heat, taste and add sugar if desired. Refrigerate until the mixture firms up and reaches room temperature, or up to a day.

Twenty minutes before baking the cookies, preheat the oven to 350 degrees with a rack in the center position. Remove one dough disc from the refrigerator (if very hard, let soften up until workable), and press it evenly into one of the prepared pans or roll the dough to an 8-inch circle and place it in the pan. Smooth the top. Repeat with the other dough disc. If you have only one pan, leave the second dough disc in the refrigerator until you’re ready to bake it.

Bake until the tops are set and barely color and the cookies just start to pull away from the sides of the pan; you want them cooked through but not hard, about 18 to 22 minutes. Remove to a cooling rack. After about 20 minutes, run a knife along the pans’ edges, carefully invert each pan onto a rack, let the cookie fall out, remove the parchment circle, and cool completely.

Place one cooled cookie on a serving plate or cardboard cake circle, bottom side up. Spread the filling (if needed, stir until smooth and easy to spread) evenly over it, and top with the second cookie, bottom side up.

Make the topping: Whisk 2 tablespoons lemon juice and 1 cup confectioners’ sugar until thoroughly blended, with no lumps. Add more juice or sugar as needed to reach a consistency that is thickened but still pourable (it will thicken more as it dries). Spread over the top of the cookie-cake, and set aside or refrigerate until the topping hardens. Store, covered, in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours or up to 2 days.

The dessert cuts most easily when chilled; use a thin-bladed, sharp knife, and press gently but firmly (the cookies aren’t as soft as a cake). Let the pieces warm to room temperature and serve with a scatter of fresh berries.

Vera Dawson, author of the high-altitude cookbooks “Baking Above It All” and “Cookies in the Clouds” (available at The Bookworm of Edwards), is a chef instructor with Colorado Mountain College’s Culinary Institute. Her recipes have been tested in her Summit County kitchen and, whenever necessary, altered until they work at our altitude. Contact her at veradawson1@gmail.com.

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