Lavender Lemon Cake

As we mentioned in our last post, Wednesday was our birthday, and we decided to make this cake. Our mom said she felt bad having us make our own cake, but we enjoy making cakes! After a lot of deliberating, we decided on this lavender lemon cake. For those who have never tried lavender in food, it gives everything a slight floral hint. It also makes your kitchen smell really good. Our family was a bit divided over the lavender; no one disliked it, but some didn’t really love it. If you are unsure of whether or not you will like it, we would recommend steeping the lavender in the milk for the frosting for only a couple of hours instead of overnight like we did. One thing that everyone loved about this cake was the lemon curd filling. It was absolutely perfect and completely addictive.

As a decoration,we made lavender lemon shortbread cookies. While they looked pretty, no one in our family loved them (with the exception of our 6-year-old brother, and he’s usually picky!). If we were to make this cake again, we would probably omit making the cookies.

The cake itself uses a reverse creaming method (mixing the butter into the dry ingredients), and it resulted in a perfectly fluffy cake!

To make things easier, we made the lemon curd and the shortbread the night before, and then the cake and the frosting in the morning.

Lavender Lemon Cake

Recipe from Sweetapolita

Serves about 14-16

Ingredients:

For the Lemon Curd:

4 lemons

2 whole eggs plus 4 egg yolks

1 cup sugar

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into small even cubes

For the Lemon Lavender Shortbread:

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon dried culinary lavender

1 tablespoon grated lemon zest

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup cornstarch

1/4 teaspoon salt

For the Cake:

1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature

2 eggs + 1 egg yolk, at room temperature

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups cake flour, sifted

1 1/4 cups granulated sugar

1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

Zest of 2 medium-large lemons

For the Frosting:

3 sticks unsalted butter, softened and cut into cubes

3 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted

3 tablespoons whipping cream  or whole milk (we used half-and-half)

1 tablespoon dried Culinary Lavender

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Pinch of salt

Directions:

For the Curd:

Wash the lemons and  zest them (only the outer colored part- not the white) into a bowl. Make sure you have two teaspoons of zest and set aside.

Slice the citrus in half crosswise using a sharp knife, and extract as much of the juice as you can using citrus juicer.  Juice until you have 2/3 cup of juice, and then strain.

Create a double boiler by filling a saucepan with 1 inch of water, then placing a metal bowl on top of the saucepan. Make sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water, and then remove the bowl.

Whisk the juice, whole eggs, egg yolks and sugar in the metal bowl until smooth. Add the butter cubes to the bowl, but do not stir.

Heat the water in the saucepan over low heat until it simmers (not boils) and place the bowl atop the rim. Stirring gently and constantly using  wooden spoon, cook until the curd has thickened and all of the butter has melted and is incorporated, about 10 minutes (it took us a little longer). It should coat the back of a spoon. To be on the safe side, we used our instant-read thermometer to make sure it was 165 degrees.

Strain the curd over a bowl using a fine-mesh sieve and then stir in the zest. Cover with plastic wrap pressed directly against the curd to prevent a skin from forming and chill for at least 3 hours or overnight. It will thicken as it chills.

For the Shortbread:

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until it is smooth and very creamy, about 1-2 minutes.

Add the powdered sugar and beat for another 2 minutes. Beat in the vanilla extract, then stir in the dried lavender and lemon zest.

Stir in the dry ingredients and mix until they are incorporated. Make a ball of the dough and seal in plastic wrap. Chill for at least one hour.

Preheat oven to 350°F and place the oven rack in the middle position. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Roll the dough 1/4 inch thick on a lightly floured surface or between two sheets of parchment paper or waxed paper. Cut desired shapes, place on baking sheets and chill in the refrigerator or freezer for about 15 minutes.

Bake until very light golden brown, about 8-10 minutes. Let cool on cookie sheets on wire racks.

For the Cake:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease two 8-inch or 9-inch cake pans, line with parchment paper, and then grease and flour them. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine and stir the eggs, 1/4 cup of buttermilk, and vanilla. Set aside. Sift the cake flour two or three times.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the dry ingredients, including the sugar, together on low speed for 30 seconds.

Add the butter and blend on low speed for about 30 seconds, then add remaining 3/4 cup of buttermilk, and mix on low speed until just moistened. Increase to medium speed and mix for 1 1/2 minutes.

Scrape the sides of the bowl and begin to add the egg/milk mixture in 3 separate batches; beat on medium speed for 20 seconds after each addition. Stir in the lemon zest.

Divide the batter into your cake pans.

Bake until a toothpick comes clean when inserted into the center of the cake (start checking around 20 minutes).  Be careful not to over bake, or your cake will be dry. Place hot baking pans on wire racks, then carefully turn the cakes onto a wire rack.  Let cool completely before frosting.

For the Lavender Frosting:

In a small bowl or glass, stir the dried lavender into the whipping cream or milk; cover with plastic wrap overnight or several hours.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip butter for 8 minutes on medium speed. Butter will become very pale & creamy.

Strain the lavender cream and add to butter, along with all remaining ingredients and mix on low speed for 1 minute, then on medium speed for 6 minutes.The frosting will be very light and fluffy.

Add a few drops of violet food coloring or a drop or two each of red and blue and mix until blended.

Fill your cake with the lemon curd (make sure to pipe a border to keep the curd from seeping out), frost, and garnish with the cookies. Enjoy!

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