We need something fancy and delicious to round out these unfamiliar times. In a world where most of us are existing in sweatpants and dirty hair and isolation, I think it’d feel good to put on the ritz and make something special, beautiful, and delicious. These past few weeks I’ve seen so many people tying on their aprons to create in the kitchen. Baking can be seriously fun, even therapeutic for some, and my heart could explode from all of the new pastry friends I’ve been making. It’s not frivolous or careless or a waste of time to express creativity in the kitchen in a time like this. In fact, I’d argue there’s value in creating and enjoying something out of the norm. Use this extra time, this season of unknown, to do something that nourishes your soul in a special way, and be encouraged knowing that this won’t last forever. Take advantage of these days to love on yourself and the people around you in a way we normally don’t make space for. Maybe do so with this lavender cake.
My friend Amy Ho has just published her first book, “Blooms and Baking.” She is cute as a button and her baked good are equally lovely. I always recognize her desserts by their beautiful colors and feminine details, and her book, a collection of recipes dedicated to floral baked goods, is filled with her trademark whimsy and decor. I’ve long been a fan of lemon combined with lavender, and so this lavender cake was an easy pick from the pages filled with interesting flavors and pairings.
Admittedly, this cake does require a bit of work, but it can easily be segmented into a few different part. First, the cake. Here, a simple butter and sour cream cake with a moist and dense crumb is lightly scented with dried culinary lavender. The balance here is perfect: not a hint of soapy floral flavor, just a hint of something in the background. The lemon curd comes together easily on the stovetop and serves as the filling for the layers. In a pinch, you could substitute in a store-bought lemon curd (you can find it by the jelly!) or even your favorite marmalade or berry jam. Finally, the frosting is a fluffy whipped American buttercream make with little more to flavor it than vanilla bean. The end product is a really tall 6″ cake with thick layers and lightly sweetened filling and frosting all over it.
For decor, I opted to use Amy’s “Floral-fetti” technique by covering the cake with dried edible flowers. You can buy these online or at speciality stores, OR you can follow the instructions in her book for using live flowers. The final outcome feels a little like Marie Antoinette in a cake, and honestly, that sounds perfectly awesome. “Let them eat cake!”
Many congrats to Amy on her new book (you can find it here!) and hugs to all of you. Keep your chin up, bake on, and take good care of yourselves. Let’s not just going to get through this- let’s full-on dominate this season and come out on the other side absolutely beaming with hope and determination. Happy Monday to you all and happy baking!
If you like this lavender cake you should try:Print
Lavender Cake with Lemon Curd
This lavender cake with creamy lemon curd and vanilla buttercream comes from Amy Ho’s new book, “Blooms and Baking.”
- Prep Time: 45
- Cook Time: 40
- Total Time: 180
- Yield: 1 Cake
- Category: Dessert
For the lemon curd:
- 1/3 cup (80 mL) fresh lemon juice
- 2 large eggs
- 1 large egg yolk
- 6 tablespoons granulated sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup unsalted butter, cubed
For the lavender Cake
- 3 cups (360 gm) all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 tablespoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon culinary-grade dried lavender ground
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup whole milk
- 2/3 cup full-fat sour cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1–3/4 granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs, at room temperature
- 2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
For the vanilla buttercream:
- 1–1/2 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 4 to 4-1/2 cups powdered sugar
- 2 to 4 tablespoons whole milk
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- Flowers of choice, for decorating
- Make the creamy lemon curd. Whisk together the lemon juice, eggs, egg yolk, granulated sugar, and salt in a large nonmetal bowl (e.g. glass or porcelain). Place the bowl over a small pot of simmering water, making sugar the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water. Heat the mixture ,whisking constantly, until it starts to thicken, 5 to 7 minutes. The lemon curd should be thick enough to coat the back of the spoon. Once the lemon curd has thickened, remove the bowl from the double boiler and allow the curd to cool for 10 minutes. Add the butter, one cube at a time, and whisk constantly until all the butter has been combined. Strain the curd through a fine-mesh sieve to remove any clumps. Place a piece of plastic wrap over the curd and transfer the bowl to the refrigerator for at least 3 hours, until the curd is fully chilled.
Make the lavender cake. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease three 6” round cake pans, line them with parchment paper, and set them aside.
In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, lavender, and salt. Set the flour mixture aside.
In a medium measuring cup, combine the milk, sour cream, and vanilla. Set the milk mixture aside.
In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until it is creamy, about 1 minute. Add the granulated sugar and beat the ingredients for about 1 minutes, until the mixture if fluffy and pale in color. While the mixer is running, add the eggs and egg yolks, one at a time, making sure each egg is incorporated before adding the next. Stop the mixer and add half of the flour mixture and half of the milk mixture. Mix on low until the ingredients are just incorporated. Add the remainder of the flour mixture and the milk mixture and mix until they are just combined with the egg mixture, about 45 seconds.
Pour the batter into the prepared cake pans. Bake the cakes for 34 to 36 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centers comes out clean. Cool the cakes on a wire rack for about 15 minutes before removing the cakes from their pans to cool completely.
Make the vanilla buttercream. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium-high speed until it is creamy, about 1 minute. With the mixer on low, add the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time. Add the milk and vanilla. Beat the buttercream at high speed until it is fluffy, about 3 minutes. Transfer 1 cup of the buttercream to a pastry ag fitted with a large round piping tip.
To assemble the cake, trim off the tops of the cake layers with a serrated knife if the tops are rounded. Place the first layer of the cake on a cake stand or plate. Pipe a ring of vanilla buttercream around the top of the cake layer. Fill the center with some of the chilled lemon curd. Place the second layer of cake on top of the first and repeat this process, topping the second layer of filling with the third cake layer. Frost the top and sides of the cake with the remainder of the buttercream. Decorate with flowers of choice.