This lavender cake is moist and tender, with a delightful and delicious lavender flavor in both the cake and the cream cheese icing.
Each slice is filled with tender layers of vanilla cake infused with a subtle lavender flavor. The tangy cream cheese buttercream has a hint of lavender, making this cake a great summertime dessert.
This cake is a simple, two-layer cake that comes together easily and has a wonderfully fragrant flavor. The cake layers are moist and fluffy, with a hint of lavender that is complemented by hints of vanilla. I topped the cake with some fresh lavender to make it extra special.
? The Ingredients
Here is a list of the ingredients you will need for this recipe. Scroll down to the printable recipe card for all the details.
- Cake flour
- Baking powder
- Egg whites and a whole egg
- Whole milk
- Vanilla extract
- Lavender oil
- Dried, culinary lavender buds
Lavender Cream Cheese Frosting:
- Cream cheese
- Powdered sugar
- Vanilla extract and lavender oil
I am not the cake baker in the family, as that award goes to Dahn. But every now and then I will do my bit with a cake made from scratch. This particular recipe, tender white cake, is from the King Arthur Flour website with my adaptation of the lavender buds and lavender oil.
To bake this cake
When preparing this cake, I used a recipe that has a slightly different method of mixing. It uses a paste method (also known as a reverse creaming method) instead of the traditional creaming method.
Most recipes for butter cakes start out with creaming the butter and sugar which creates tiny air bubbles in the butter which will later expand in the oven and contribute to the rise of the cake. It also helps contribute to a light and fluffy texture.
Our recipe uses the paste/reverse creaming method. I first learned this method of baking from The Cake Bible. The paste method starts by mixing the flour with the butter.
This paste coats the flour particles with fat and minimizes gluten formation. It also minimizes the air particles that are formed while baking, which results in a finer crumb with a slightly denser but very velvety texture.
Here is a brief overview to get an idea of what to expect with this lavender cake recipe. Scroll down to the printable recipe card for all the details.
- Mix the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl. Add the soft butter and mix until it resembles damp sand.
- Beat in the egg whites one at a time, then add the whole egg.
- Whisk the milk with the vanilla extract and the lavender oil. Add this mix ⅓ at a time, to the batter. Fold the crushed lavender buds into the batter.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake.
I have to tell you, though, that using the lavender flavor was a total experiment as I had to determine how much lavender would be enough but not too much.
I have had lavender cookies where the lavender was so faint that I wondered why they bothered, but too much and it can be overpowering. So, it took a couple attempts for me to discover the amount of flavoring I wanted.
Using culinary lavender oil:
One word of caution, the lavender oil is very powerful and my first attempt I thought I was being pretty conservative…. it was a total failure. I was determined to get this right though and as the oil was not equipped with a dropper so I purchased one and finally got the amount of lavender correct. It is perfect!
I enjoyed this cake so much, I asked Dahn to use this recipe for the cake at my 50th anniversary party. She filled the cake layers with lemon curd and covered it with fondant. It was absolutely beautiful.
This cake makes me happy and I love the light floral flavor and the cream cheese icing has just enough lavender oil for a light flavoring and compliments the cake deliciously. It would be fun to get my lady friends together and do a little English Tea party with some fancy sandwiches, tea (like lavender tea) and serve this cake for dessert. Just thinking…:)
You can change up the frosting on this cake with some of the following options. Any one of these would taste great with lavender:
- Strawberry cream cheese frosting
- Italian meringue buttercream
- American buttercream
- Ermine buttercream
- Traditional cream cheese buttercream
? Tips for Success
To avoid any pesticides of commercially grown lavender, make certain you use culinary lavender with this recipe. Culinary lavender is meant for consumption and is the safest choice when used in baking and cooking. Lavender infused sugar is an easy way to incorporate it in your baking.
Use room temperature ingredients. Let the butter, milk, and eggs sit out for a while. If they are cold, the cake batter will not emulsify as well.
Make sure you scrape down the sides and bottom of the mixing bowl frequently.
Frequently Asked Questions
Lavender has a slight floral, herbal, and lemony flavor. A little bit goes a long way to flavor cakes and other baked goods. If you add too much, it can give your cake a bitter flavor.
Check out these recipes:
- Lavender Madeleine Tea Cakes
- Old-Fashioned Cream Cheese Pound Cake
- Einkorn Honey Almond Cake
- Chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting
- Brownies with cream cheese buttercream
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- 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 and room temperature
- 4 large egg whites (room temperature)
- 1 whole large egg (room temperature)
- 1 cup whole milk (room temperature)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 8-10 drops lavender oil, about ⅛ teaspoon (see Notes)
- 2 teaspoon, dried, culinary lavender buds, pulverized in a pestle or ground in a spice mill
Lavender Cream Cheese Icing:
- 1 cup of butter (2 sticks), room temperature
- 16 oz of cream cheese (2 packages), room temperature
- 5 - 6 cups of powdered sugar (565 to 678 grams)
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- 2-5 drops of culinary lavender oil (or to preferred taste-see Notes)
For the Cake
- Preheat the oven to 350°F
- Prepare two 9”x2” round pans by lining them with parchment paper and then spray the paper with non-stick spray.
- 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.
- 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.
- In a small bowl, whisk the milk with the vanilla and the lavender oil (see Notes). Add this mix ⅓ at a time, to the batter. Beat just until combined. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Fold the crushed lavender buds into the batter.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with just a few crumbs stuck to the toothpick. Remove from the oven and cool completely on a wire rack.
For the Lavender Cream Cheese Icing:
- With an electric mixer, and using the paddle attachment, not the whisk, mix the butter and cream cheese together, about 3 minutes on medium speed until very smooth. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl to ensure even mixing.
- Add the vanilla extract and mix. Slowly add the powdered sugar. Keep adding until you get to desired sweetness and thickness. With the mixer on the slow speed, carefully add one drop of the oil at a time and mix well. Taste for flavor and add more oil a drop at a time to get the desired taste.
- Spread icing on the cooled cake and refrigerate until serving.
- Lavender oil is super powerful and you will need to drop in a couple drops at a time, mix it well and then taste it to determine if you need more. I used 10 drops and was delighted with the results.
- If you do not have lavender oil you could substitute by heating the milk that is listed in the ingredients with 2 or 3 teaspoons of dried culinary lavender. Bring the milk to a boil, remove from the heat and let it steep until it is room temperature, then strain it through a sieve before adding to the cake batter.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 723Total Fat: 41gSaturated Fat: 25gCholesterol: 115mgSodium: 254mgCarbohydrates: 85gFiber: 0.6gSugar: 67gProtein: 7g