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This lemon lavender cake is light and citrusy while also being delicately balanced with floral notes of lavender. Every bite is heavenly and moist and will bring the perfect finishing note to any garden party, afternoon tea, Mother's Day celebration, or baby shower.
While this lemon lavender cake is moist as ever, if you're looking for something airy, try this lemon lavender angel food cake.
Baking with lavender
So you've seen lavender growing in the garden and you've smelled lavender soap, but if you've never baked with lavender you may have a couple of questions, which we'll try and answer here:
What does lavender taste like?
Lavender has a delicate flavor. It's described as floral and has earthy and woody undertones. Think rose mixed with rosemary – sweet and savory, but not bitter. In any case, you want to bake with it carefully. Too little and you won't taste it, too much and you'll cross over into soapy. It should be treated like a spice.
What type of lavender should I use for lemon lavender cake?
All lavender is edible, it's an herb in the mint family. This recipe, however, calls for 1 tablespoon of dried culinary lavender. Using a culinary variety of lavender means you'll be working with the lavender buds and not the leaves or stems. Not to get too technical, but you want to cook or bake with lavender that has low camphor in it (camphor makes some lavender taste bitter.)
Lavender is a beautiful herb to bake with. If you like the smell of lavender, then you'll probably enjoy the taste, too!
How to make lemon lavender cake
In just 1 hour you'll have yourself a gorgeous lavender lemon cake, sure to impress your friends and family – because really any time you bake with lavender it immediately jumps to gourmet! Here are the easy-to-follow steps to get there:
For the cake:
- Prepare: Preheat your oven and grease two baking pans, as you'll be making a double-layer cake.
- Combine dry ingredients: Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- Beat the wet ingredients: In a large bowl (or stand mixer) beat the butter and sugar until it's light and fluffy. Then add the eggs and beat again. Finally, add the yogurt, lemon juice, and lemon zest.
- Slowly combine dry + wet: Add HALF the dry ingredients and mix until combined. Add the remaining dry ingredients and the lavender and mix just until combined.
- Bake the cake: Divide the cake batter between the two prepared pans and then bake for 30-35 minutes. Let the cakes cool for 15 minutes and then put them on a wire rack to cool completely.
For the frosting:
- Combine the ingredients: In a medium-sized bowl, add the powdered sugar, sour cream, butter, and lemon juice and beat until smooth.
- Decorate: Make sure the cakes are cooled completely before decorating. Then, place one cake on a plate or cake stand and cover the top with frosting. Put the other cake on top. You can add a crumb coat (a thin layer of icing that secures any loose crumbs from the cake) and then add a second layer of frosting for the top and sides of the cake. Decorate with lemon slices and fresh or dried lavender.
Ideas for decorating lemon lavender cake
For this lavender lemon cake recipe, we used lemon slices and lavender to decorate the cake, but there are lots of ways to add a little pizzazz. Here are some ideas:
- Pretty lavender icing: The frosting on this cake is white, however, you can make it a delicate lavender color to match the flavors. You can add culinary lavender to the frosting to give it some lavender flavor, and/or you can add 2-4 drops of purple food coloring to the frosting to achieve the lavender color.
- Candied, fresh, or dried lemon slices: You can add lemon wheels in any variety to your cake. For this recipe, we used candied lemon slices. To do this, you will need to make a simple syrup (you can follow the linked recipe, however, omit the strawberry step). Once you have a simple syrup on the stovetop, simmer the lemons in the simple syrup for about 1 hour. Then set your oven to the lowest setting and bake them for 1-2 hours, flipping often so that they don't burn or get too brown.
- Coconut: Coconut will complement the delicate flavors in this cake. You can add coconut flakes on top of the frosting to add some texture and a subtle coconut flavor.
- Extra lemon: This cake is wonderful served with lemon curd. You can also use lemon curd as a filling between the layers.
How to store lemon lavender cake?
If you're making the cake in advance, you can store the cake in the fridge overnight in an airtight container. Make the icing separately and store it in a container in the fridge for up to one week. If you have leftover cake after serving, consider adding any leftover icing to the cut portion to help maintain moisture. Otherwise, store it in the fridge for 3 days. After a week it will lose moisture.
Can I freeze this cake?
Yes! You can freeze the cake layers, unfrosted, for up to 3 months. You can also keep the frosting in the freeze for a few months.
Can I use lime instead of lemon?
Sure! We love the combination of lemon and lavender, but lime is a wonderful variation. Or try adding some of each citrus, as we do in our lemon lime loaf.
- 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup butter (at room temperature)
- 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1 cup plain yogurt
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons lemon zest
- 1 tablespoon dried culinary lavender
- 2 ½ cups powdered sugar
- ¼ cup sour cream
- 2 tablespoons butter (at room temperature)
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- Lemon slices and fresh lavender (to decorate)
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease and line 2 8-inch cake pans with parchment paper. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.2 ½ cups all-purpose flour, 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder, ½ teaspoon baking soda, ½ teaspoon salt
- In a large bowl (or stand mixer) beat the butter and sugar until it's light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs and continue to beat for 2 minutes more.1 cup butter, 1 ½ cups granulated sugar, 3 large eggs
- Add the yogurt, lemon juice, lemon zest, and HALF of the dry ingredients and mix on low speed until nearly combined. Add the remaining dry ingredients and the lavender and mix just until combined.1 cup plain yogurt, ¼ cup lemon juice, 2 tablespoons lemon zest, 1 tablespoon dried culinary lavender
- Divide the cake batter between the two prepared pans and then bake for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let the cakes cool for 15 minutes and then invert them onto a cooling rack to cool completely.
Frosting and Decorating
- In a medium-sized bowl, add the powdered sugar, sour cream, butter, and lemon juice and beat until smooth.2 ½ cups powdered sugar, ¼ cup sour cream, 2 tablespoons butter, 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- Place one cake on a plate or cake stand and cover the top with frosting. Put the other cake on top and frost the top and sides of the cake. Decorate with lemon slices and fresh or dried lavender.Lemon slices and fresh lavender
We have thoroughly tested this recipe for accuracy. However, individual results may vary. See our full recipe disclosure here.