Ever since having finally purchased two more 9 inch cake pans to be able to make a proper layer cake, I have been jonesing to make one! Every now and then, I end up craving a lemon poppy seed muffin (like the awfully delicious ones you can buy in bulk at Costco?), and this was the case last week. Surprisingly enough, I had never baked with poppy seeds before. I bought them in bulk at Whole Foods a few months ago so when the inspiration hit me, I had them on hand. And luckily in this case, I was prepared.
So, a lemon poppy seed layer cake it was. But what kind of frosting? Lavender, of course! What better Spring-like combination than lavender and lemons? So I raided my entire kitchen for everything lavender I own: lavender simple syrup, dried lavender buds, lavender sugar, and lavender bitters. I toyed with the idea of putting lavender sugar in the cake batter, but quickly came to the conclusion that separating the two to have their own distinct flavors come through would be best. I adapted my buttercream frosting recipe from Sarah Magid’s Organic and Chic, which came out just fine other than it was quite a warm day on the afternoon I made this, so it was a bit more runny than usual. I added a ton of powdered sugar to it to thicken it up, which made it almost too sweet, but I really loved the idea of a buttercream so I went with it. It worked out just fine, but if I had had more room in my fridge, I probably would have refrigerated the cake so the icing would have set in place a bit faster. Next time, I think I’ll try this buttercream recipe.
So I divided the two 9’in cakes in half, to make four layers total. I decided an extra little kick of lemon flavor would be great to balance out the lavender, so I purchased some premade lemon curd at the store (totally cheating but who cares? I totally wasn’t going to make the lemon curd from scratch too…) For the frosting, I also made it very lavender-y with the lavender sugar and lavender bitters in place of the vanilla extract. Have I mentioned how much I love bitters? I recently started reading this and I am so into it. I want all the bitters. GIVE THEM TO MEEE.
I reserved a bit of the frosting and added more purple food coloring to it for a little extra decoration, although the frosting was a bit melted. Oh well! It still tasted delicious. I used a few leftover edible paper butterflies on the top of the cake, as well as some crystallized violet flowers for an extra touch of pretty Spring vibes.
I was very pleased with how this cake turned out, but next time I’d try a different frosting. So glad I used the lavender flavor and some lemon curd, though. This is a wonderful Spring-time (post-Easter although I know it could very well pass as a lovely Easter cake) dessert or birthday cake. Or maybe for Mother’s Day! Whaddya say?
Lemon Poppyseed Layer Cake with Lavender Buttercream & Lemon Curd
Makes one 4 layer 9″ cake
- 2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 3/4 cup sugar
- 3 Tablespoons fresh lemon zest, (skin of 3 large lemons)
- 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 4 large eggs
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 3 Tablespoons poppy seeds
- 1 8oz jar Lemon Curd (store bought or homemade)
- 1 recipe of lavender whipped buttercream (recipe follows)
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, add the butter, sugar and lemon zest. Beat the butter, sugar and zest together until they are light and fluffy.
- In a separate bowl mix together the dry ingredients and set aside. With the mixer running on low, add the eggs one at a time, combining thoroughly in between. Add the vanilla extract and the lemon juice, (it may look curdled, but it’s not!) Add one third of the dry ingredients, and then half of the buttermilk. Repeat, adding another third of the dry ingredients, and then the other half of the buttermilk. Finish with the rest of the dry ingredients, and mix the batter until all of the ingredients are completely combined and the batter is light and fluffy.
- Prepare two 9” pans with baking spray. Divide the cake batter evenly between the two pans. Bake the cakes on a middle shelf for 35-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool before removing from the pan. When the cake is completely cool, slice each cake round horizontally in half to create four cake rounds total.
To make your Buttercream:
- 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup lavender sugar (alternatively: crush 1 Tablespoon of dried lavender buds
with a mortar and pestle or in a food processor pulse with 3/4 cups of white granulated sugar)
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons lavender bitters
- 3-4 cups powdered sugar, used to thicken the frosting if too thin
- Cream the butter on medium speed until soft. Add the lavender sugar and beat on high until light and fluffy.
- In a small saucepan, combine 1/4 cup of the milk, the flour and the lavender bitters, whisking until there are no lumps. Over medium heat, slowly add the remaining 3/4 cup of milk, whisking constantly, and cook until the mixture comes to a low boil. Then reduce the heat to low and keep whisking for a few more minutes until the mixture begins to thicken.
- Immediately remove the pan from the heat, but keep stirring to release the heat (you can also place the pan over a bowl of ice water to help stop the cooking process and allow the mixture to cool).
- Once the milk mixture has thickened, set it aside to cool at room temperature, or stick it in the freezer for about 5 minutes to speed the process.
- With the mixer on low speed, slowly pour the milk mixture into the butter and lavender sugar mixture. Increase the speed to medium and beat until the frosting is light and fluffy, 3-5 minutes. Add powdered sugar or more lavender bitters to achieve the desired consistency.
- Spread a nice thin layer of lemon curd on your first cake layer, then frost with the lavender icing, top with another cake layer, and continue doing this until you have frosted all your cake layers and have topped it with the lavender frosting.
If you have cake decorating skills and supplies and you want to flex your muscles, go for it! I’d love to see your lavender cake creations. A simple sprinkle of dried lavender buds goes a long way, too! Enjoy and please let me know what you think.