The first time I attempted to use Lavender while cooking was a complete fail. I probably dumped like A CUP of lavender buds into a cup of cream. I pretty much made soapy flavored ice-cream.
It was a hot mess.
The night before I had watched the movie "It's Complicated" with Meryl Streep and Alec Baldwin. Basically I fell in love with Streep's characters life. She lives in the most beautiful home in Santa Barbara, runs her own cafe / bakery and studied pastry arts in France. She also makes midnight chocolate croissants with Steve Martin and eats Lavender-Honey ice cream in the bathtub.
Needless to say.. I still want her life haha I was also 18 and working at Williams Sonoma at the time. Which meant I was getting my hands on a ton of new flavors I had NEVER even thought of tasting before.
Flash forward almost five years and I think it is safe to say I've got this lavender business down. Last weekend I had the daintiest vodka-lavender-lemonade which inspired this cake! I kept the flavors pretty simple and didn't use too much lavender (don't be afraid of lavender!) If you use the right amount of lavender it can actually create a really subtle and unique flavor.
This was actually a little 6-incher cake that I cut in half to create four small layers. I garnished with lavender buds, lemon wedges and edible flowers found at Sprouts! Can we just have a slow-clap for the whole naked cake look that has been accepted (and cut my frosting time in half!) It's sort of like the whole "free the nipple" but "free the cake"?!? Too far fetch.. alright recipe time!
Lavender Cake with Lemon Buttercream
For Lavender Cake
2 ½ Cups of Cake Flour
3 Teaspoons of Baking Powder
1 Teaspoon of Baking Soda
½ Teaspoon of Salt
½ Cup / 1 Stick of Room Temperature Unsalted Butter
1 ¼ Cup of Granulated Sugar
1 Tablespoon of Vanilla Extract
1/3 Cup of Vegetable Oil
1 ½ Cups of Milk
4 Teaspoons of Dried Lavender Buds
*Edible flowers optional for decoration
For Lemon Buttercream
1 Cup / 2 Sticks of Room Temperature Unsalted Butter
2 Tablespoons of Pure Vanilla Extract
2 Tablespoons of half&half
½ Teaspoon of Kosher Salt
8 Tablespoons of Fresh Lemon Juice
6 Cups of Powdered Sugar
Optional … zest of one lemon, I preferred a smoother texture
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line two 9-inch cake pans with parchment paper and butter or spray with baking spray.
**I used two 6-inch cake pans and cut each layer in half
In a small saucepan add milk and heat on high until foamy, be careful and watch close milk tends to overflow very easily. Crush lavender with a spoon or mortar and pedestal to release lavender oils. Add in crushed lavender to milk and turn off the heat. Let milk + lavender steep for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes strain the lavender out and set milk aside.
In a large mixing bowl mix dry ingredients together: Cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt
In a large mixing bowl beat butter + sugar until light in color and very fluffy. Add in eggs one at a time on low. Then add in vegetable oil and vanilla extract on low. In three separate increments add in dry mixture. The last ingredient added is lavender milk, beat mixture on low until just combined.
Bake for 30-35 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Ring a knife around the sides of cake pan and transfer for a wire rack until completely cooled.
Beat together room temperature butter and vanilla extract for 2-3 minutes until light and fluffy. Add in 2 Tablespoons of half and half, salt and half of powdered sugar. Beat on medium and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add in other half of powdered sugar and beat until light and fluffy.
Frost in between each layer and on top. Leave sides optional for a “naked” cake.
**For extra smooth buttercream, heat your frosting knife up with warm water!