Blackberry Lavender Cake

Blackberry and lavender flavors come together in this superbly moist and tender blackberry lavender cake. The reverse creaming method guarantees a soft crumb and the lavender milk and soaking syrup promise an aromatic, but not overpowering flavor. This cake is the perfect dessert for any special occasion!

Lavender cake on wooden cake stand

I’ve never been a fan of lavender flavored food. Lavender scented candles? Love them. Lavender lotion? Bring it on. Lavender the color? I love you and you’re gorgeous.

But I think lavender flavored desserts taste like hand soap.

Today I’m eating my words… and another slice of this blackberry lavender cake! It’s buttery soft with a tight crumb, blackberry filling, cream cheese frosting, and delicate flavor of aromatic lavender. Not hand soapy in the slightest.

If new cake flavors excite you, you are definitely going to enjoy this cake!

Slice of lavender butter cake with purple frosting and blackberry jam

Icing on the Cake Cookbook

This lavender jewel comes from Tessa Huff’s newest cookbook Icing on the Cake. (Page 60) For those not familiar, Tessa is the baker behind Style Sweet CA. Her blog and books are full of dessert and artful frosting decoration– I learned a lot of my skill from her. Even if you’re not a baker, her photography alone is true eye candy. I’m genuinely a huge fan and the only thing sweeter than her creations is Tessa herself. She’s simply wonderful and inspires us all to “live out our pastry dreams!”

It’s my duty to bring you the best of the best and I say with pure confidence that Icing on the Cake is my new favorite book. It’s a masterpiece created for dessert lovers and bakers of any skill-set. With multiple photos for each recipe, she walks us through every single detail, every swipe of frosting, and every turn of the mixer. Her creations are delightful and epic, combining classic flavors with creative colorful design. Each page has a pop of whimsy, as if you were turning the pages of a dessert fairytale. There’s cakes, macarons, pies, and plenty of other desserts to keep your sweet tooth satisfied. Her chocolate banana pie is next on my baking list and if you ever wanted a small, medium, and large batch recipe of vanilla buttercream, this book includes each.

If you’re passionate about pretty desserts, Icing on the Cake belongs on a pedestal in your kitchen. I’m proud to share the book with you today, including a recipe that’s– quite frankly– one of the best cakes I’ve ever eaten. Tessa is a cake mastermind!

Tessa Huff Icing on the Cake cookbook cover

This is a very special cake with several different parts. Each takes time to build and prepare, so I encourage you to read through the directions before starting. Each step is totally worth it! Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day… but this lavender cake can be!

5 Parts to Blackberry Lavender Cake

  1. Lavender Milk – To help flavor the cake.
  2. Lavender Soaking Syrup – To help flavor the cake and keep the layers extra moist.
  3. Cake – Tessa uses the reverse creaming method and it yields the softest, most springy cake crumb. One of the best textured cakes I’ve had and I know you’ll love it too.
  4. Blackberry Jam – Layer the cake with sweet blackberry jam. Paired with lavender, this is an absolutely mouthwatering flavor duo.
  5. Cream Cheese Buttercream – A light and creamy blend of vanilla buttercream and cream cheese frosting complements the cake without overpowering the delicate flavor.

Slice of lavender butter cake with purple frosting and blackberry jam

Lavender for Baking

First, let’s discuss the best lavender to use for baking. I’m new to baking with lavender and wasn’t sure what to purchase when I started. However, a quick search pulled up this wonderful multi-use dried culinary lavender. It’s edible and a wonderful addition to homemade desserts, drinks, essential oils, and more.

Lavender Milk

Pieces of dried lavender don’t leave an ideal texture in the baked cake, so let’s infuse the liquid ingredient (milk) with plenty of lavender flavor. Bring milk to a simmer, then let it steep with a couple teaspoons of dried culinary lavender. Strain the lavender through a fine mesh strainer, then let the milk cool completely before using in the cake batter. I recommend doing this in advance. If you remember, start it the night before. You can also prepare the lavender syrup ahead of time. More on that below.

There’s a fine line between pleasant lavender flavor and eating potpourri. For a light and lovely lavender flavor, stick with the recipe below! And if you don’t have a fine mesh strainer, pick one up. You need it to sift the dry ingredients, as well as for the lavender milk and lavender syrup.

Steeping lavender for lavender cake

Reverse Creaming Method

Have you ever heard of the reverse creaming method for cakes? Instead of starting with the creaming butter and sugar together, the reverse creaming method begins with the dry ingredients and ends with the eggs. Tessa says that she favors this method when she’s looking for a lighter, more springy crumb. This cake is tight like pound cake, but it’s not dense. Rather, it’s velvet soft. I’m a fan!

The keys to reverse creaming are to (1) cube the butter and bring to the proper room temperature and (2) slowly stream the egg mixture into the batter at the very end.

And, like most cake recipes, be careful not to over-mix.

Reverse creaming method for cakes

Lavender Soaking / Simple Syrup

The secret to ultra moist cake is to brush it with a simple syrup before frosting. The syrup soaks down into the crumb, keeping the cake tender and moist for days. You can do this with mostly any cake recipe and you can even flavor the syrup, too. Today we’ll simmer the syrup with culinary lavender, then let it cool completely and strain it before using.

Make sure you level the cakes before brushing them with lavender soaking syrup. Leveling the cakes slices off the uneven domed tops, which guarantees a stronger and sturdier layer cake. You can level the cakes with a cake leveler, but I just use a serrated knife. It’s convenient and easy.

I used a pinch more lavender than what Tessa’s recipe called for. Like the lavender milk, you can prepare the soaking syrup ahead of time.

lavender simple syrup

Brushing lavender simple syrup on cake

Cream Cheese Buttercream

Tessa combines vanilla buttercream and cream cheese frosting together. I did this with my lemon cake and coconut cake, too. The frosting glides on seamlessly and even holds its shape with simple piping. I brought this cake along to a beach weekend with some friends and everyone not only complimented the delicious cake, but the tangy, sweet, silky soft frosting too. Keep this frosting recipe in your back pocket because it’s definitely one of the best parts!!

 

 

Bowl of cream cheese buttercream frosting

How to Assemble & Decorate Blackberry Lavender Cake

I bet you’re wondering about that blackberry jam?! We’ll use it when we assemble this lavender cake. Tessa teaches us how to make the most beautiful pattern that can only be seen when you cut into the cake. Make a bullseye with the frosting, then fill with blackberry jam. A large round piping tip is helpful for the frosting.

Blackberry jam is commonly found at most major grocery stores, but if you can’t get your hands on it, any flavor jam would be great or you could even try lemon curd.

Make sure you swipe a thin layer of frosting on the layers first. Otherwise, the jam could create a soggy cake. Apply a crumb coat all around the cake, then refrigerate. If you’re not familiar with a crumb coating, see my naked cake recipe and video. It’s simply a thin layer of frosting all over the cake that catches all the crumbs.

Piping and filling cake layers with frosting and blackberry jam

Frosting 3 layer lavender cake

In the introduction to her book, Tessa says that if a portion of a recipe decoration doesn’t inspire or excite you, leave it off. Her blackberry lavender cake features a glorious flower crown and I knew I wouldn’t be able to do it justice. Instead, I divided the frosting in half and tinted half light purple using 2 drop of this mauve food coloring. Using an icing spatula, I covered the crumb coat with the light purple frosting and added simple piped border around the top.

Decorate the lavender cake however you feel inspired and don’t forget to check out Icing on the Cake! Lovely cake, lovely book, lovely inspiration. And now I’m looking forward to more lavender flavored desserts!

Blackberry lavender cake on wooden cake stand

More Lovely Layer Cakes

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Slice of lavender butter cake with purple frosting and blackberry jam

Blackberry Lavender Cake

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 4 hours
  • Cook Time: 22 minutes
  • Total Time: 4 hours, 22 minutes
  • Yield: 10-12 servings
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Blackberry and lavender flavors come together in this superbly moist and tender blackberry lavender cake. The reverse creaming method guarantees a soft crumb and the lavender milk and soaking syrup promise an aromatic, but not overpowering flavor.


Ingredients

Lavender Milk

Lavender Syrup

Cake

  • 1/4 cup (60g) sour cream, at room temperature
  • 2 and 1/2 cups (325g) cake flour
  • 1 and 1/2 cups (300g) granulated sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks; 230g) unsalted butter, diced & softened to room temperature
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature

Cream Cheese Buttercream & Assembly

  • 1 cup (2 sticks; 230g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • one 8 ounce block (224g) full-fat cream cheese, softened to room temperature*
  • 5 and 1/2 cups (660g) confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons (30ml) whole milk
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/21 cup (120ml-240ml) blackberry jam
  • optional: purple or mauve food coloring
  • optional: blackberries for garnish

Instructions

  1. Make the lavender milk: In a small saucepan over low heat, bring the milk to a simmer. Remove from heat and immediately add the lavender. Set aside to steep for 20 minutes. Strain the milk through a fine-mesh sieve set over a bowl, then discard the lavender. Cool milk completely before using in cake batter. Can be made 1-2 days ahead and stored in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before using.
  2. Make the lavender syrup: In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the sugar and 1/2 cup water to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to low and add the lavender. Simmer the syrup for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and steep until completely cool. Strain the syrup through a fine-mesh sieve set over a bowl, then discard the lavender. You will use this “soaking syrup” in step 8. Can be made 1-2 days ahead. Cover and keep at room temperature until ready to use.
  3. Make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Grease three 8-inch cake pans, line with parchment paper, then grease the parchment paper. Parchment paper helps the cakes seamlessly release from the pans.
  4. Stir the sour cream and cooled lavender milk together until combined. Set aside.
  5. Sift the cake flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. (Or if using a handheld mixer, any large mixing bowl.) With the paddle attachment, beat the ingredients together on low speed for a few seconds to gently combine. Add the butter, vanilla, and about 1/2 of the lavender milk/sour cream mixture. Mix on medium speed until the dry ingredients are moistened, about 1 minute. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl.
  6. Whisk the eggs into the remaining lavender milk/sour cream mixture. With the mixer running on medium speed, add the egg mixture in 3 additions, mixing for about 15 seconds after each addition. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl, then mix for about 15 more seconds until batter is completely combined. Avoid over-mixing.  Some small lumps are OK.
  7. Pour batter evenly into cake pans. If desired, weigh them to ensure accuracy. Bake for around 20-22 minutes or until the cakes are baked through. To test for doneness, insert a toothpick into the center of the cake. If it comes out clean, it’s done. Allow cakes to cool completely in the pans set on a wire rack. The cakes must be completely cool before leveling and frosting.
  8. Using a large serrated knife, slice a thin layer off the tops of the cakes to create a flat surface. Discard (or crumble over ice cream!). Generously brush lavender syrup on the top of each cake. I use every last drop!
  9. Make the frosting: In a large bowl using a hand-held mixer or stand mixer fitted with a whisk or paddle attachment, beat the butter and cream cheese together on medium speed until creamy and smooth, about 2 minutes. Add confectioners’ sugar, milk, vanilla extract, and salt with the mixer running on low. Increase to high speed and beat for 3 minutes. Add more confectioners’ sugar if frosting is too thin, more milk if frosting is too thick, or an extra pinch of salt if frosting is too sweet. Frosting should be spreadable and creamy, not runny. If desired, divide frosting in half and tint half light purple. I used 2 drops of this mauve food coloring.
  10. Assemble and decorate: Place 1 cake layer on your cake standcake turntable, or serving plate. Spread a thin layer of white frosting on top. Fill a piping bag fitted with a large round tip (I used Wilton 1A piping tip) with 1/2 cup of white frosting. (Or use a zipped-top bag with the corner snipped off.) Pipe a ring around the outer top edge of the cake to create a “dam.” Pipe a second ring of white frosting a couple inches in from the outer ring to create a “bull’s eye.” Spoon and spread blackberry jam in the gaps. Top with 2nd cake layer and repeat, then place 3rd cake layer on top. If there’s any remaining, spread a thin layer of white frosting all over the top and sides of cake to create a crumb coat. Chill in the refrigerator for 15 minutes. Finally, spread the purple frosting all over the top and sides. I use and recommend an icing spatula to apply the frosting. If there’s any extra frosting, pipe decor on top. I piped a swirled border with Wilton 1M piping tip. Garnish with blackberries.
  11. Refrigerate cake for at least 20 minutes before slicing and serving. This helps the cake hold its shape when cutting.
  12. Cover leftover cake tightly and store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.


Notes

  1. Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions: The cake layers can be baked, cooled, brushed with syrup, and covered tightly at room temperature overnight. Likewise, the frosting can be prepared then covered and refrigerated overnight. When ready to decorate, let the frosting sit at room temperature to slightly soften for 15 minutes, then give it one more mix with the mixer on medium speed for about 1 minute before frosting cake. Frosted cake or unfrosted cake layers can be frozen up to 2-3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before brushing with syrup, decorating, and serving.
  2. 9-inch Cake Pans: This recipe uses three 8 inch cake pans. If desired, you can use three 9 inch cake pans instead. Bake time will be about the same, but keep a close eye on the cakes at 20 minutes and check for doneness with a toothpick. 9-inch cakes will be a little thinner.
  3. Cupcakes: You can use this recipe for lavender cupcakes. Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full. Bake at 350°F (177°C) for 19-21 minutes. Yields about 2-3 dozen. Brush cooled cupcakes with lavender syrup and fill with blackberry jam, if desired.
  4. Cream Cheese: Use block cream cheese, not cream cheese spread. Not a fan of cream cheese frosting? Frost with this vanilla buttercream instead.
  5. Why is everything at room temperature? All refrigerated items should be at room temperature so the batter mixes together easily and evenly. Read here for more information.
  6. Special Tools: Icing on the Cake Cookbook | KitchenAid Stand Mixer | KitchenAid Hand Mixer | Culinary Lavender | Fine Mesh Sieve | 8 Inch Cake Pans | Pastry Brush | Food Coloring | Piping Bags | Bench Scraper | Icing Spatula

Reprinted with permission from Icing on the Cake Cookbook by Tessa Huff

Keywords: lavender cake, cake

Slice of lavender butter cake with purple frosting and blackberry jam

55 Comments

  1. Hi. I want to try this as a naked cake with just enough cream cheese frosting. So I wanted to know if I can freeze the remaining frosting for use on another cake when in need. I tried to freeze cream cheese on its own once and it didn’t work well upon defrost.
    Thanks.
    Chamila

    1. Hi Chamila! You can definitely freeze the remaining frosting for future use. You could also try halving the frosting recipe so you don’t have as much left over 🙂

  2. Beautiful! I absolutely cannot wait to try making this cake! And perfect for Mother’s Day. As always, thank you so much for the beautiful photos and detailed instructions 🙂

  3. This cake is absolutely stunning! Perfect for birthdays and special occasions! I love the flavors combo – lavender and blackberry sounds so good!

  4. Wow, just wow!!!! I’m salivating. Cannot wait to make it. Although I must say it looks hard to make but I will try. Thanks for sharing!

      1. Hey Sally! I love everything lavender, however I have never eaten anything with lavender before because I thought it would taste like soap as well but am excited to try this cake for mother’s da at church this year. I have tried so many of your recipes and I have never been disappointed thanks for inspirations and talents Sally. Your daughter is beautiful.

  5. Sally, yay! I remember you saying not liking lavender flavor, so this is so crazy! Thank you for this new adventure of yours!

    Does Tessa also use both, metric and American cup measurements in her book?

  6. I had to laugh when you said that lavendar desserts taste like hand soap!!! 😀 I’ve never thought to put it that way, but I totally agree with you…that is, I do at the moment – I can’t wait to try this lavendar cake to see if it changes my opinion! 😉

  7. You always inspire me to bake on my busiest work days! That is a beautiful looking cake. Love the idea of blackberry jam mixed in with the buttercream!

  8. Yum! I love lavender desserts so I’m excited to try this. Can you make this in a 9×13 pan? Or maybe even in a loaf pan?

    Also, if we can’t find blackberry jam, what flavors would you recommend? I know lemon goes well with lavender but it would be great to try other flavors. 🙂

    1. I’m glad you are excited to try it! I haven’t tested this in a 9×13 pan yet but let me know if you do.
      I think raspberry would also be delicious.

  9. Sally: This one is gorgeous! I gotta try it soon. Love your recipes and pictures! I use the paste, reverse creaming, or high-ratio mixing method in many of my cakes. This is a great way to insure your batter does not curdle and the crumb bakes perfectly. Sometimes I bend the baking rules and use this high-ratio method on muffins, loaf cakes and coffee cakes. You are a master baker and should be applauded for your tutorials and recipes. Pictures too! Lorraine

  10. Your Lemon cupcakes with blackberry cream cheese frosting are a huge hit around here, and this is another stunner to try! But if you are just getting into lavender, try making some honey lavender ice cream this summer… to DIE for!
    Thank you for all your amazing recipes, videos and instructions. You inspire me to try many new things!

  11. Hi Sally! I know you’re strawberry cake is special because you kind of make your own strawberry jam/reduction to keep it all from scratch. Can I do the same thing with the blackberry jam?
    Thanks!

    1. You absolutely could make your own. But the difference is that in the strawberry cake the strawberry reduction was going into the cake batter to flavor it, so we wanted a thicker pure strawberry paste – here it is simply layered between the cakes like a filling so you can use either store bought OR homemade jam!

  12. I almost cheered out loud when I saw this post! I love anything lavender flavored (as long as it’s not overpowering) and I cannot wait to try this!

  13. Hi Sally,
    I have always been tentative to trying lavender with baking. Maybe some naïveté on my part about the taste. But, after seeing this post I am definitely going to have to try this recipe, maybe as cupcakes to start! Thanks for posting this amazing looking cake!

  14. Hi Sally,
    Cake looks amazing, I don’t have three 8 inch tins so could I bake one at a time, if so would the cake mixture have to be refrigerated and then brought back to room temperature? I don’t really want to buy more cake tins as I have limited space to store them.
    Thanks Carol.

  15. This looks so good! How many cups of batter do you think this makes? I’m trying to fill a train shaped cake pan with this and wondering if it’ll be enough batter to fill it.

    1. I have not measured the batter – but my best estimate would be about 18 cups (generally 8 inch pans hold about 6 cups each).

  16. I made this cake yesterday. I have to say this is the most wonderful cake I have ever made/tasted. the subtle taste of the lavender with the blackberry is pure heaven., as is the texture of the cake. I would be interested in trying other cakes using this method as well. Yet again Sally you amaze us with your recipes.

  17. This cake is soo good. Such a unique flavor and the lavender is definitely not overpowering-not like lavender soap at all! It gives a sweet floral flavor and aroma and the blackberry is fabulous. I made my own jam and colored the frosting with about two tablespoons of it.

  18. Lovely cake. I was looking for something blackberry to bake my for my sister’s birthday in two weeks, and this sounds perfect.

    Just wanted to mention that the alternating rings of buttercream and fruit filling serves an even more important purpose than aesthetics. Purées, jams, and even custard fillings can be very slippery, especially when they warm up. Even if a tier is damned and doweled a jam/fruit or custard filling can cause layers to slip in transit. There’s been much discussion of slippery cake layer disasters among event cake bakers over the years. Most advanced cake bakers use some form of alternating pattern of buttercream with fruit and custard fillings to avoid a slipping cake disaster. When chilled, the extra rings of buttercream hold everything in place, and when the cake is sliced and plated, there’s no unsightly sign that the cake was assembled to prevent the cake layers from sliding. This alternating ring pattern is my standard for slippery fillings.

  19. Question, rather than making lavender simple syrup, can I use torani lavender syrup? Also, can I use the syrup to make a lavender milk rather than steeping the flowers? Granted it feels a bit less authentic, but it sure would save me some time in consideration OfThe other food prep for Mother’s Day.

    1. Hi Shandaleia! You can use that prepared lavender syrup as the soaking syrup. However, I’m unsure about using it for the lavender milk. Let me know how the cake turns out!

      1. So the cake turned out amazingly! I made the lavender milk as instructed and used the torani syrup for the cakes and it was terrific. I also increased the recipe by one half since I wanted to make one cake for my family’s mother’s day celebration and a small one for a bday gift. It fit perfectly in four round 8 inch, .59 deep pans, and four 6 inch, .59 high pans. It got RAVE reviews with the family, the bday girl, and with the office for leftovers. Thanks for bringing us such a great recipe. And, I bought Tessa’s book too ☺️

  20. Hi Sally! I’m super excited about this recipe but have a question about the lavender milk. Is the goal to have 1 cup or 240 ml of the lavendar milk after it has cooled? I started with a cup of milk but now have a little less after simmering. I want to make sure I have the correct amount!

  21. Hi Sally,
    Made this cake for my mom for Mother’s Day and everyone loved it. It was my first time baking with lavender as I also was afraid of lavender tasting like soap. The cake was moist and the lavender flavor was subtle and not overpowering. Now I will be trying lavender in future recipes. Couldn’t find blackberry jam, so I made my own. Great recipe.

  22. I have never cooked or baked with lavender before, so I was excited to try this recipe. I made 24 cupcakes, filled them with the blackberry jam and added a touch of lemon juice to the frosting. These cupcakes were lovely, moist, fluffy and the flavors melded well together. I sent some into work with my hubby and everyone who tried them loved them and some even said they were the best cupcakes they ever had! There have been requests for more, so that is on my agenda today. Thank you, Sally for another amazing recipe!

    1. Hi Angela! You can use 2/3 of the cake batter for the cake pans, then use the remaining batter for a few cupcakes on the side. Or if you have 2 9-inch pans, use those instead. There’s just a little too much batter for only 2 8-inch pans.

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