Tangy lemon curd and sweet Italian meringue buttercream enhance this light Lemon Lavender Cake and give us all the reasons we need to make this over and over again.
Lemon and lavender is a flavor combination with a fancy, elegant sort of air, and this soft sponge cake is all that and more. It’s beautiful, sophisticated, and delicious.
A creamy and tart lemon curd gives a sunny lift to the light, floral flavor of lavender. This is the dessert for special gatherings like springtime brunch and outdoor baby showers and really any occasion in need of a little elegance and whimsy in cake form. 😉
The frosting is an Italian meringue buttercream that adds just the right amount of creamy, butter-y sweetness to this lavender cake. It is less sweet than an American buttercream and won’t overpower the light floral flavor.
If you think the Italian meringue buttercream is too challenging or intimidating to make, you could make our Ermine frosting which would also go well with this cake.
How to Create This Lemon Lavender Cake:
This is a multi-step process, broken down into four parts: the sponge cake, the lemon curd cake filling, the lavender syrup, and the Italian meringue buttercream.
For the sponge cake:
- Dried culinary lavender
- Lemon zest
- Whole milk
- Canola oil
- All-purpose flour
- Baking powder
- Vanilla extract
For the lavender syrup:
- Dried culinary lavender buds
For the lemon curd filling:
- Egg yolks
- Butter, softened
- Lemon juice
- Lemon zest
You will find all of the instructions here for making the Italian meringue buttercream. And we also have separate posts for our lemon curd and our lavender syrup.
Our lemon lavender cake requires a few different steps which can be split up to make the process a bit more simplified. The lemon lavender sugar, lemon curd and lavender syrup can all be prepared ahead of time- even up to days in advance (we like to store lavender syrup in the fridge to have on hand for desserts and cocktails).
Here is the step-by-step for this cake (scroll to the bottom of the page for the full lemon lavender cake recipe):
- Make lemon lavender sugar: Combine sugar, lavender and lemon zest in a food processor or blender and process until the lavender buds break down. By the way, we also have a lavender-infused sugar that tastes lovely in our lavender tea.
- Prepare the cakes: Prepare your two cake pans and preheat the oven. Then make the cake batter by beating the eggs with the lavender sugar for 10-15 minutes, then sifting in the dry ingredients and adding the wet ingredients at the end. Bake the cakes and let them cool.
- Make the lavender syrup: The lavender syrup is a simple syrup recipe. You will have leftover syrup that you can use to sweeten drinks.
- For the lemon curd filling: Combine egg yolks, sugar and butter in a small saucepan, then stir in the lemon juice, zest and salt. Cook the mixture until it thickens, then strain out any lumps. Ta-da! Lemon curd that is ready to chill.
- Make the buttercream: See our full recipe post for Italian Meringue Buttercream. If you’d like to use a less technical buttercream recipe, we suggest our Ermine frosting or our American Buttercream.
- Assemble the cake: When the cake is cool, drizzle a few tablespoons of lavender syrup on each cake layer. Spread the first layer with buttercream, then add the curd, then add the second cake on top. Frost the entire cake with the buttercream and top with extra lemon curd and pretty piped frosting for decor.
Tips for the best results:
- When making lemon curd, note that the slower you cook the curd, the thicker it will be. Try not to let the mixture come to a boil. If it does start to boil, remove it from the heat and return to a lower cooking temperature. It’s thick enough when it coats the back of a spoon and it holds a trail when you run your finger through it.
- The lemon curd will get thicker when it cools down. Place a sheet of plastic wrap on top of the curd and stick it in the fridge.
- You can make this lemon lavender cake as an 8-inch cake too! Use two, 8-inch cake pans that are at least 3-inches tall. Increase the bake time by about 5 minutes.
- When assembling the cake, a layer of buttercream on top of the first cake will help prevent the sponge from soaking up the lemon curd. Then pipe a wall of buttercream around the edge of the first layer to create a dam. Spread the lemon curd in the dam so it doesn’t seep out when placing the second cake layer on top.
We know you’ll love this lemon lavender cake recipe! It has a lovely taste and appearance, with a slight, barely-there flavor of lavender and a fresh, tartness from the lemon curd. It’s sunny, special and simply stunning.
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Some More Recipes We Are Sure You Will Love:
- Lavender Panna Cotta with Lemon Syrup: Creamy yet light, this elegant Panna Cotta features a favorite flavor pairing! Silky, lavender-infused cream drizzled with a delicate lemon syrup makes a beautiful dessert.
- Double Chocolate Icebox Cake: A chocolate-lover’s dream: creamy, mousse-like filling laced with stripes of chocolate and topped with chocolate curls. This chocolate icebox cake is intense, rich, and a no-bake, make-ahead dessert!
- Lemon Cake Roll: This tart and luscious cake makes an elegant dessert that is perfect for summertime! A creamy lemon filling is rolled up in a light and tender cake for a beautiful and delicious dessert.
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For the sponge cake
- 1-3/4 cups sugar (350 grams)
- 1 tablespoon dried culinary lavender
- zest of 1 lemon
- 5 eggs
- 10 tablespoons butter
- 1-1/4 cups whole milk
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 3 cups all-purpose flour (360 grams)
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 2/3 cup water
- 2 tablespoons dried culinary lavender buds
Lemon curd: makes 1-1/2 cups
- 7 large egg yolks
- 1 cup sugar
- 6 tablespoons butter, softened
- 2/3 cup lemon juice
- zest from 2 lemons
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
Italian Meringue Buttercream:
Make lemon lavender sugar:
- Combine the sugar, lavender, and lemon zest in a food processor or blender and process until the lavender buds are broken down. Set the lavender sugar aside.
Warm the eggs slightly:
- Place the eggs (while still in the shell) in a bowl of warm water. The goal is to get the eggs slightly warmer than room temperature. This will warm them up and help them whip to a higher volume. Let them sit while you prep the cake pans and the ingredients.
Prep the cake pans:
- Preheat the oven to 350°F
- Grease and flour two 9-inch cake pans and place some parchment paper in the bottom of the pans. (You can also use 8-inch pans if they are 3-inches tall)
Make the cake:
- Combine the butter, oil, and milk in the saucepan and warm it over low heat until the butter melts. Keep the pan on the lowest heat setting to stay warm.
- Crack the warmed eggs in a large mixing bowl and add the lavender sugar. Beat on high speed for about 10 to 15 minutes. The eggs should triple in volume and become pale yellow in color.
- Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt over the egg mixture and fold in with a spatula until it is just barely combined, you will still see some flour streaks.
- Add the vanilla to the warm milk mixture and pour the milk into the batter. Stir the mixture by hand or on low speed. Scrape the sides and bottom of the mixing bowl with a spatula to make sure all the flour is incorporated.
- Divide the batter into the cake pans.
- Bake for 22 to 28 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. (If you use 8-inch cake pans, the batter will be thicker and you will need to increase the baking time by 5 minutes)
- When the cakes are finished baking, set the pans on a wire rack on the counter and let them cool in the pans.
Make the lavender syrup:
- Place the sugar, water, and lavender buds in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat then reduce the heat to a simmer. Simmer for 3 to 5 minutes then remove the pan from the heat. Place a lid on the pot and let the syrup sit for 10 to 15 minutes to infuse the lavender flavor.
- Pour the syrup through a fine-mesh strainer and toss the lavender buds out. Reserve the lavender syrup for later.
Make the lemon curd:
- Set a strainer over a bowl and keep it readily available near the stove.
- In a heavy non-reactive saucepan, beat the egg yolks, sugar and butter until well blended. Stir in the lemon juice, zest and salt. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, for about 10 to 15 minutes until thickened and has a glossy appearance. The slower you cook the curd, the thicker it will be. Try not to let the mixture come to a boil, if it begins to boil remove it from the heat for a bit then return it to a lower heat. You can tell if the lemon curd is thick enough if it coats the back of a spoon and you can run your finger through it and it holds a trail.
- When the curd has thickened, pour it into the strainer and press it with the back of a spoon. Discard the lemon zest and any lumps that are left behind in the strainer.
- Place in the refrigerator to chill. The lemon curd will thicken more once it has chilled completely.
Make the Italian Meringue Buttercream:
- Follow the recipe here for the Italian meringue buttercream. If you would like a less technical buttercream recipe, you can use our Ermine frosting recipe or our American buttercream recipe.
Assemble the cake:
- When the cake cools down, drizzle 4 to 5 tablespoons of lavender syrup on each cake layer. Place one cake layer on a platter. Spread the top with a thin coat of buttercream (this will prevent the lemon curd from soaking into the cake). Pipe a wall or dam of buttercream around the edge of the cake to prevent the lemon curd from seeping out. Spread half of the lemon curd inside the dam.
- Place the second cake on top of the lemon curd then cover the cake in buttercream. Add the rest of the lemon curd to the top of the cake. Pipe mounds of buttercream around the top edge of the cake.
Nutrition is calculated only for the sponge cake and does not include the syrup, lemon curd, and buttercream
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 377Total Fat: 16gSaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 115mgSodium: 240mgCarbohydrates: 50gSugar: 21gProtein: 7.6g
Frequently asked questions:
How do you use lavender in a cake?
It is important to use lavender sparingly when you bake it in a cake. A small amount of lavender will give a light, floral flavor that will compliment the lemon and vanilla in this cake. If you use too much lavender then the cake will have a bitter, soap-like flavor.
Can I freeze this cake?
Yes, you can freeze the cake but it will change the texture of the lemon curd slightly. However, I haven’t heard anyone complain.
You can also bake the vanilla sponge cake several weeks in advance, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and freeze it until you are ready to assemble the cake.