A cake fit for a queen served quite unknowingly on her birthday.
Wow I loved making this cake!!! It’s a delicious mix of flavors. The lavender is subtle and goes perfectly with the lemon and cherry. I used my favorite cake base added dried lavender buds from Aromandise (they ship to the US – totally not an ad, they’ve got great dried flowers!). An extract would work as well. I would have used the buds off my lavender plants but they are just almost almost about to bloom- give it two more days and there will be purple flowers swaying in the Versailles breeze.
Now here’s where the fun really started. See that marble-like icing? I was picturing it in my mind before I got to baking and never imagined it’d look quite so cool. Here’s what I did: I took fresh cherries, pitted them and cut them into small pieces, then cooked them with a little sugar and water to concentrate the flavor and make essentially a quick jam. I didn’t puree it. Obviously, you could but I wanted the speckled look. If you did puree it, this is a great way to get natural food coloring.
The tea party was such fun! I invited some friends over and we toasted the Queen and ate cake as you do. Happy Birthday Queen Elizabeth!
Lavender Lemon Cherry Cake
I used the Martha Stewart White Cake recipe (my favorite for cake bases) and then snazzed it up a bit. It’s smart to make the bits and pieces of this cake over the course of multiple days. I made the lemon curd three days before, then the cake layers the day before, and that way on the day of assembly it was a lot easier to put together. This cake makes 3 layer 8″ cake or a two layer 9″ cake.
The Lavender Cake
- 400 g all-purpose flour or cake flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 335 g unsalted butter
- 430 g granulated sugar
- 2 tbsp dried lavender buds or lavender extract to taste
- 235 ml whole milk
- 8 egg whites
- 55 g granulated sugar
The Lemon Curd
- 100 g granulated sugar
- zest of 2 lemons
- 2 eggs
- 85 ml lemon juice
- 150 g unsalted butter (cubed)
- 1 sheet gelatin (optional)
Vanilla Buttercream (see instructions for measurements)
- 100 g room temperature unsalted butter
- powdered sugar
- vanilla extract
- whole milk
Cherry Italian Meringue Buttercream
- 2 handfuls fresh cherries
- 20 g granulated sugar
- 50 ml water
- 4 egg whites
- 275 g granulated sugar
- 100 ml water
- 250-300 g unsalted butter – **Very Soft, at room temp
The Lavender Cake
Grease three 8″ cake pans, or two 9″ cake pans, lining the bottoms with parchment paper.
Preheat your oven to 165C/350F.
In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
In an electric mixer bowl, beat together the butter, sugar, and lavender using the paddle attachment until everything comes together.
Alternate adding the milk and the flour mixture, scraping the bowl several times.
Whip up the egg whites to stiff peak, adding the 55g of sugar slowly when the eggs start to foam. Fold this into the batter in 3-4 additions and then divide between the cake pans.
Bake 30-35 minutes or until the cake springs back when touched, pulls away from the side slightly, and/or a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.
The Lemon Curd
Place the gelatin in bowl and cover with cold water to soften. In another larger bowl, place the butter, cubed, with a strainer over top. Once the gelatin has softened, add to the bowl with the butter.
In a saucepan, add the sugar, lemon zest, eggs, and lemon juice. Place over medium heat and whisking continuously until thickened. Once the mixture is thick, pour into the strainer over the gelatin and butter, pushing through with a spatula. Remove the strainer and whisk until the butter is incorporated and the gelatin has melted into the mixture.
Set aside to cool at room temperature or in the fridge for several hours until set. Leftovers will last 2-3 weeks in the fridge.
When you’re ready to assemble the cake…
Make the vanilla butter cream by whisking together the butter with powdered sugar. I make my buttercreams by looking at the texture. You’ll add powdered sugar, slowly but surely until the butter lightens in color and is SUPER thick almost like clay, and certainly not a spreadable texture.
Add vanilla extract, about 1/2 tsp, then milk a 1/2 tsp at a time. Whisk well after each addition looking at the texture. Add more milk (it only takes a little!!) until you are happy with the consistency.
Now to construct the cake!
Level off your layers as needed using a bread knife so you have flat tops.
Lay the first one down, and if you’d like dab milk on top using a brush. This is optional but it’s one of the secrets to a moist cake.
Pipe a circle of vanilla buttercream around the circumference of the layer using a piping bag or simply a snipped plastic bag. This will act as a dam for your lemon curd.
Fill the inside with the curd, using an offset spatula to make sure the top is flat. Then place pitted fresh cherries halves on top. I
Repeat with the next layer and then use the leftover vanilla buttercream to do a thin crumb coat layer. Chill for at least 30 minutes.
The Cherry Italian Meringue Buttercream
While the cake is chilling, make the buttercream. This will be your showstopper!
Pit and roughly dice two big handfuls of cherries. Combine with the sugar and water in a saucepan and cook, watching closely, about 15 minutes, until the juice thickens, and the cherries start to break down.
After it’s cooked for a bit, break up the cherries using a potato smasher, or I just simply use the bottom of a whisk.
Allow to cool at room temperature while you prepare the rest.
In a mixer bowl, place 4 egg whites. Set it on the mixer with the whisk attachment but don’t turn it on just yet.
In a small saucepan, pour the sugar and water. Heat to 238F/114C. When the temperature reaches 225F/95C, start whipping the egg whites. It’s important that they are at stiff peak when you add the sugar.
Slowly pour in the sugar syrup, with the mixer on, avoiding the whisk. If you’re egg whites are not at stiff peak before your sugar mixture reaches temperature, set the hot syrup aside, increase the speed of the mixer and wait until they are stiff peak before adding. (this is important!)
Whip on medium-high speed until the mixer bowl feels warm (body temp) to the touch (not hot like when you first add the sugar, and not cold). This takes usually about 5 minutes but depends.
With the mixer on, slowly add the butter a cube at a time. Turn on a movie or a song. It will take time, but it’s important to add the butter slowly, only adding the next after it’s fully incorporated.
It will look soupy! Just keep adding until it comes together, and voila! It’s icing! Start with 250g and then add more butter as needed to reach the right consistency.
Whip in the cherry and ice away!
The cake will keep for several days (if it lasts that long!