A Slice of Summer: Lavender & Lemon Cake

Lavender & Lemon Cake via Sweetapolita

A short and sweet post for you, friends. I have to admit that sometimes I’m hesitant to post some of the simpler recipes I’ve made, or posts that don’t have a ton of photos or wow-factor, but I’ve decided that even a little bit of sweetness is better than none. The truth is, I miss sharing my baking experiences when I have to go a week or so in between, so I’ve decided to share more often, even if that means some of my posts are bite-size. Trust me that there are many more towering cakes in our future together — I promise.

Cravings are funny, aren’t they? You’re going along, thinking that your usual foodie desires are being met, and then, suddenly, out of nowhere,  you get some strange and specific urge for something in particular — even if it’s the wrong season!  I find, it’s usually something I haven’t had in ages, or something I’ve never tried (and no, trust me, I’m not preggers!). I suppose that’s what makes us foodies. On Sunday, the day I made the Campfire Delight cake (which, by the way, you all showed an incredible enthusiasm for, so I want to say a big thank you!), I also made a sweet little lavender layer cake filled with homemade lemon curd and frosted with a fluffy lavender frosting. Now, it wasn’t a show-stopper, the way the Campfire Delight was meant to be, but it’s delightful and delicious, nonetheless. A little more understated, but also very summer-inspired. This cake makes me think tea parties and afternoon visits with friends.

Have you ever tried lavender-infused desserts? They can be really delicious and unique. The key, seemingly, is using the lavender in moderation, otherwise you will end up with a soapy flavour — ick. From the research I’ve done, lavender pairs best with citrus, honey, and even chocolate, to name a few. My husband is from Prince Edward County, Ontario, from which we live about an hour, and among many incredible farms, wineries, and more, there is a beautiful lavender farm. Last year I experimented with the culinary lavender they sell, and I really loved the flavour (is there anything I don’t love when it’s paired with cake?). Here is the recipe for the Lavender Cake with Lavender Frosting:

Lavender Butter Cake   (7″, 3-layer)      {click here for printable recipe}

Ingredients:

1 cup (227g, or 2 sticks or 1/2 lb) unsalted butter, unsalted

1 3/4 cups sugar

6 egg whites (or 220g liquid egg whites)

1/4 teaspoon pure lemon extract

3 cups all-purpose flour

4 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons dried culinary lavender

1 1/4 cup whole milk (room temperature)

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Method:

Add 3 tablespoons of dried culinary lavender to whole milk, cover, and refrigerate overnight (or at least several hours). Strain milk into clean bowl/glass.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, and place rack in center of oven. Butter and flour three – 7″ round cake pans. Line bottoms of pans with parchment paper and grease and flour parchment paper.

In a mixing bowl, sift or whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter until soft (about 1-2 minutes). Add sugar and beat until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes). Add egg whites gradually, beating after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the lemon extract, and beat until combined.

Stir vanilla into lavender milk, and with the mixer on low speed, alternately add the flour mixture and milk, in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour.

Divide the batter evenly between the three prepared pans and smooth the tops with an offset spatula. If possible, weigh your filled pans to ensure they are equal. Bake in preheated oven for approximately 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.

Cool the cakes in their pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Place a wire rack on top of the cake pan and invert, lifting off the pan gently. Once the cakes have completely cooled, wrap in plastic and place the cake layers in the freezer for about 30 minutes, to make filling and frosting the cakes easier.

Lavender Frosting           {click here for printable recipe}

Ingredients:

1 lb butter (4 sticks or 2 cups) at room temperature

5 cups icing sugar (confectioners’ or powdered)

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/4 cup whipping (35% fat) cream

1/4 cup whole milk

1 teaspoon dried culinary lavender

A few drops of lavender food colour (or equal parts blue and red)

Method:

Add 1 teaspoon of dried culinary lavender to 1/4 cup whole milk, cover, and refrigerate overnight (or at least several hours). Strain into clean bowl/glass.

In a bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, combine the icing sugar and butter and beat on low speed for about 1 minute. Add vanilla and beat on low until well combined.  Add whipping cream, lavender milk, and food colouring (if using), and beat on med-high speed for another  minutes, until light and fluffy. Best used right away.

Enough to crumb coat and frost 7″ or 8″ cake.

Lemon Curd filling from Martha Stewart.

Tips & Tricks for Splitting Cakes:

1. Always start with a cold cake: refrigerate for about 2 hours or freeze for about 30 minutes

2. With a good quality serrated knife (I only use my favourite Mac 10 1/2″ serrated bread knife–this thing is insanely sharp), trim any doming off the top of each layer.

3. Measure the height of your layer with a ruler, then create a score line on the halfway mark all the way  around the outside of the cake.

4. Lower yourself to almost eye-level to the cake. With a gentle sawing motion, slowly move the knife gradually towards the centre of the cake, then turn cake 1/4 turn, and repeat until you have cut through the entire layer.

You may also find this past post helpful: 50 Tips to Baking Better Cakes

Happy summer-is-on-the-way!

Good luck & enjoy!

Related posts:

Triple-Lemon Blueberry Layer Cake

Triple-Lemon Blueberry Cake via Sweetapolita

Happy Wednesday! I hope you had a wonderful Valentine’s Day with all of your lovies. I woke up yesterday morning, with a sudden and unrelenting need for sunshine–in any form. For what I think was the first time, rather than craving a particular food (or ingredient), I was craving a colour: yellow! I knew I had to make and bake something full of sunshine–absolutely bursting with sunshine, from the inside out: this time it was all about flavour.

Triple-Lemon Blueberry Cake via Sweetapolita

Naturally, a lemon confection immediately came to mind, so I figured it was time to bake a Lemon-Blueberry Layer Cake. I love anything lemony, and of course bringing blueberries into the mix makes this recipe even more appealing. For this version, I incorporated a layer of buttery vanilla cake in between two layers of the blueberry-lemon cake, filled it with homemade lemon curd, and topped it all with the lemony-est frosting I could come up with. Now, that’s the triple-lemony burst of sunshine I needed.

Triple-Lemon Blueberry Cake via Sweetapolita

So here it is! A little bit crazy in there — like a literal burst of blueberries and lemon inside, sandwiching a layer of classic vanilla cake. What I love about it is the random and almost messy appearance, once sliced. As much as I love perfect layers, it wouldn’t be much of a “burst” if it was neat and tidy inside! There’s a lot going on in there, but to me it all comes together so nicely. The lemon in the blueberry cake is simple and subtle with the addition of a bit of lemon zest, lemon extract, and lemon juice, which pairs well with the fresh blueberries. The lemon curd is perfectly tart, and combined with the whipped lemony (and sugary) frosting, it’s zesty and sweet. The truth is, I’m in complete lemon love (and possibly lust) with this cake.

If you haven’t made lemon curd before, I highly recommend it. It takes a bit of effort, but overall it’s quite simple to make and so rewarding. You can make a bigger batch, freeze it, and simply pull it out when you need a punch of lemony filling. There’s truly nothing zingier, and who doesn’t need zingy in their lives from time to time?

Sweetapolita

While we’re on the topic of sweet sunshine-y goodness, here are my little blueberry bursts playing while the cake layers were baking. Their favourite activity, these days, is goofing around on the bed, being just as silly as can be. Neve thinks it’s hilarious that she can stand up on her own on the bed and then land face first into the pillows, and of course, big sister Reese has to follow suit, followed by endless girly-giggles from the gut. Love those.

Sweetapolita

We had a great day yesterday, while we baked the cakes. I managed to get some things organized for spring, and even though it was -13 degrees Celsius here on Lake Ontario, it seemed as though spring was in the air . . .

Triple-Lemon Blueberry Cake via Sweetapolita

Even if it was just in our hearts (and bellies) . . . I suppose this cake really is a burst of much-needed sunshine. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do, and that you’re also feeling a bit of spring in your world.

Triple-Lemon Blueberry Layer Cake

Yield: One 3-layer, 8-inch round cake

Ingredients

    For the Cake:
  • 2 cups plus 6 tablespoons (290 g) all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 2 teaspoons (9 g) baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon (7g) salt
  • 3 cups fresh blueberries
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) sour cream
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) whole milk
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 ml) pure lemon extract
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) lemon zest
  • 1 cup (2 sticks)(227 g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1-1/2 cups (300 g) white sugar
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • For the Frosting:
  • 1 cup (2 sticks)(227 g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) lemon zest
  • 5 cups (625 g) icing sugar, sifted
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) whipping cream (35% cream)
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1.25) pure lemon extract
  • a pinch of salt
  • yellow food gel, optional

Instructions

    For the Cake:
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare three 8" round cake pans with parchment paper, butter and flour. Sift dry ingredients into medium bowl. Transfer 1 tablespoon flour mixture to larger bowl. Add fresh blueberries and toss to coat them with flour. Set remaining flour mixture and blueberries aside.
  2. Stir sour cream, whole milk, vanilla extract, lemon extract and lemon zest in small bowl.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar, until pale yellow and very fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in eggs one at a time, until well combined.
  4. Mix in flour mixture alternately with milk mixture, starting and ending with flour mixture. Stir until just combined. Gently fold in blueberries.
  5. Divide batter equally among prepared pans. Bake cakes until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Cool cakes in pans on racks for about 10 minutes, then invert onto racks until completely cool.
  6. For the Frosting:
  7. Cream butter and lemon zest in bowl of electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment, about 3 minutes. Slowly add icing sugar, mixing on low speed for about 2 minutes.
  8. Add remaining ingredients and beat on med-high for 3-4 minutes until very fluffy. If using color gel, add a drop or two (really, no more than that, because too much sunshine really can be a bad thing!), then beat until blended.
  9. Assembly of the Triple-Lemon Blueberry Layer Cake:
  10. Spread thin dollop of frosting on an 8-inch thin cake board or cake plate. Transfer 1 cake layer to board, face up.
  11. Create a dam around the perimeter of the layer using frosting in a pastry bag fitted with a coupler, then spread lemon curd (apprx 1 cup) inside the dam--this prevents the curd from reaching out over edges.
  12. Top with second layer, face-up; repeat frosting around perimeter and lemon curd filling.
  13. Top with third cake layer, face-down (brown smooth side up). Spread thin layer (crumb coat) of over top and sides of cake, using offset palette knife and bench scraper for smooth finish. Place cake in refrigerator for about 30 mins to chill.
  14. from refrigerator and using same method, frost cake with generous layer of frosting, smoothing again. For ruffled border, add frosting to piping bag with petal tip (Wilton #123), and with skinny end facing out, use back and forth/up and down motion to create short ruffles.

Notes

Due to the lemon curd filling, keep cake covered and refrigerated (for up to 2 days) but serve at room temperature.

Schema/Recipe SEO Data Markup by ZipList Recipe Plugin
http://sweetapolita.com/2011/02/triple-lemon-blueberry-layer-cake/

[The Lemon-Blueberry cake base adapted  from Epicurious]

Filling: 1 batch Lemon Curd

Here are some other fun ways of creating this cake with alternate flavours:

  • Use a cream cheese frosting, lemon or plain
  • Replace blueberries with other berries or berry combinations
  • Use frosting to fill in place of lemon curd
  • Use a smooth blueberry jam as filling in place of lemon curd

You may also enjoy this past post: 50 Tips For Baking Better Cakes

Good luck & enjoy!



 

Related posts: