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Cheese lover, goat cuddler and cook, based in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Lavender Cake with Lemon Curd

Lavender Cake with Lemon Curd

I haven’t done a whole lot of baking, but after inspiration struck from binge watching The Great British Bakeoff with my friend Clancy, I had to try to make at least one cake. So for her birthday, I decided to try out a layered lavender and lemon cake. 

I’m not a huge fan of cake, generally speaking. It’s a little too sweet for me. But I was converted after eating our wedding cake. It had two layers—lavender with lemon curd and rosemary with berries. The floral and herbaceous cake was wonderfully flavorful without being too sweet, and the berry and lemon fillings added a nice tartness to offset the sweetness of the simple buttercream. The lavender and lemon was my favorite, so I wanted to try to recreate it (to the best of my ability). 

I’ve never attempted a layered cake before, so below are a couple lessons I learned while blundering my way through it. 

  1. Using the right temperature. Using convection bake is generally better since the air is circulated throughout the oven and therefore bakes the cakes more evenly, preventing hot spots. Since they are more efficient at circulating air, the temperature needs to be lowered to avoid over-baking and browning. The recipe I followed didn’t specify convection or conventional bake, so I opted for 350°F on convection bake. The inside of the cake was nicely moist and fluffy, but the outside was a little too browned and dry. Lower your oven temperature by about 25°F for convection bake, which is what I recommend in the recipe. 
  2. Completely cool your cake! Just do it! This is something I already knew, but I was running low on time and I wanted to get the crumb coat on the cake and in the fridge before I had to leave. I felt the cake and was like “yeah, that feels pretty cool to me.” But it wasn’t quite room temperature. But I frosted anyway and though the layers were fairly even, they weren’t even enough and they started to slide. So I ended up wasting more time than if I had just waited in the first place. Surprise! Just cool the damn cake. 
  3. A lot of frosting is needed. There’s the frosting in between the layers, then the outside and the top. If you do a crumb coat, like I did, you’ll need enough frosting for two layers on the outside. If you don’t do a crumb coat, you still need a ton of frosting so there’s a thick enough layer so as not to pick up crumbs when spreading. This video was really helpful for me when trying to spread my buttercream evenly.
  4. Use a simple syrup. This was a trick I learned by talking to the baker who made our wedding cake. Since the cake was made ahead, she brushed the cakes with simple syrup to maintain moisture. I decided to try this as well. Not only does it keep the cake moist, but it adds a little but of flavor as well. 

Lavender Cake with Lemon Curd

Lemon curd

  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 52 g lemon juice
  • 2 eggs 
  • 60 g sugar
  • 37 g butter, cubed and room temperature

Cake

Recipe adapted from Savor the Best

  • 2-3/4 cups cake flour (300 grams)
  • 1-2/3 cups sugar, superfine is best (330 grams)
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon sea salt
  • ¾ cup butter, (12 tablespoons) softened
  • 4 large egg whites, plus 1 whole large egg
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 T dried lavender buds
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F or 325°F for convection bake
  2. Prepare two 6”x2” round pans by lining them with parchment paper and then spray the paper with non-stick spray.
  3. Add milk to a small saucepan with lavender buds and heat on medium until just below a simmer. Remove from heat and let steep for 10 minutes. Strain and chill the milk to room temperature.
  4. Mix the dry ingredients on slow speed for 2 minutes to blend. Add the soft butter and mix until evenly crumbly, it should resemble damp sand.
  5. Add the egg whites one at a time, then add the whole egg, beating well after each addition to begin building the structure of the cake. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with each egg addition.
  6. In a small bowl, whisk the milk with the vanilla. Add this mix ⅓ at a time, to the batter. Beat 1 to 2 minutes after each addition, until fluffy. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. 
  7. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and cool completely on a wire rack.

Lavender syrup

  • 1 c part water
  • 1 c part sugar
  • 2 T dried culinary lavender

Add all ingredients to a saucepan and bring to a simmer for 5 minutes. Strain and reserve syrup. 

Buttercream

Recipe adapted from I Am Baker

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 2 teaspoons McCormick® Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1 tablespoon lavender syrup
  • 32 ounces confectioners sugar, sifted
  • 2 - 4 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
  • pinch salt
  • Lemon zest
  1. Beat butter in bowl of stand mixer with whisk attachment on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. (about 3 minutes)
  2. Add vanilla and almond extract.
  3. With mixer on low, slowly add in confectioners sugar , milk, and salt; frequently scrape sides and bottom of bowl.
  4. Once incorporated, whip frosting for at least 3 minutes on medium high to high. (My mixer went for 7 minutes)
  5. If frosting is too thick to spread, gradually beat in additional milk.
  6. Store in refrigerator up to 2 weeks. Rewhip before using.

Candid lemon slices

  • 1 lemon, sliced thin
  • 2 lemons juiced
  • 2 tablespoons lavender syrup

Assembly

  1. Assemble by building each layer of the cake, starting by trimming the layers to be evenly flat. 
  2. Start with the bottom layer. Brush with lavender syrup. 
  3. Pipe a circle of frosting around the perimeter of the later to create a little wall. Fill the middle with the lemon curd. Repeat with the other layers. 
  4. Cover the cake with a crumb coat and put in the refrigerator until chilled and hard. 
  5. Once cooled, frost the outside. 
  6. Garnish and serve. 
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