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!
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. It’s actually become one of my favorite spring dessert recipes. (And makes for one of the prettiest Easter dessert recipes, too!)
If new cake flavors excite you, you are definitely going to enjoy this cake!
Video Tutorial: How to Make Blackberry Lavender Cake
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!
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
- Lavender Milk – To help flavor the cake.
- Lavender Soaking Syrup – To help flavor the cake and keep the layers extra moist.
- 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.
- Blackberry Jam – Layer the cake with sweet blackberry jam. Paired with lavender, this is an absolutely mouthwatering flavor duo.
- Cream Cheese Buttercream – A light and creamy blend of vanilla buttercream and cream cheese frosting complements the cake without overpowering the delicate flavor.
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. I actually just used it for lavender scones, too!
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.
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 soften to 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.
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.
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!!
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. First, make “dam” around the outside, the same way to start to fill chocolate raspberry cake. Next, pipe a bullseye with the frosting, and 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.
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!
More Lovely Layer Cakes
- Pistachio Cake
- Birthday Cake with Buttercream Flowers
- Vanilla Naked Cake
- Checkerboard Cake
- 1st Birthday Cake
- Lemon Blueberry Cake
Blackberry Lavender Cake
- Prep Time: 4 hours
- Cook Time: 22 minutes
- Total Time: 4 hours, 22 minutes
- Yield: 10-12 servings
- Category: Dessert
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: American
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.
- 1 cup (240ml) whole milk
- 2 teaspoons dried culinary lavender
- 1/2 cup (120ml) water
- 1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons dried culinary lavender
- 1/4 cup (60g) sour cream, at room temperature
- 2 and 1/2 cups (295g) cake flour (spoon & leveled)
- 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
- 1/2 – 1 cup (120ml-240ml) blackberry jam
- optional: purple or mauve food coloring
- optional: blackberries for garnish
- 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.
- 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.
- Make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Grease three 8-inch cake pans, line with parchment paper rounds, then grease the parchment paper. Parchment paper helps the cakes seamlessly release from the pans. (If it’s helpful, see this parchment paper rounds for cakes video & post.)
- Stir the sour cream and cooled lavender milk together until combined. Set aside.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- Assemble and decorate: Place 1 cake layer on your cake stand, cake 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.
- Refrigerate cake for at least 20 minutes before slicing and serving. This helps the cake hold its shape when cutting.
- Cover leftover cake tightly and store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- 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.
- 9-inch Cake Pans: This recipe uses three 8 inch cake pans. If desired, you can prepare three 9 inch cake pans in step 3 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.
- 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.
- Cake Flour: If you can’t get your hands on cake flour, use this cake flour substitute.
- Cream Cheese: Use block cream cheese, not cream cheese spread. Not a fan of cream cheese frosting? Frost with this vanilla buttercream instead.
- 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.
- 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 | Reusable Piping Bags or Disposable Piping Bags | Bench Scraper | Icing Spatula
Reprinted with permission from Icing on the Cake Cookbook by Tessa Huff
Keywords: lavender cake, cake
Reader Comments & Reviews
I am vegetarian and want to make this delicious recipe eggless, is that possible? If yes, what can I replace eggs with? thanks.
Hi Rhea, we haven’t tested this recipe with egg substitutes, but let us know if you give any a try!
Thanks Trina, in your experience what egg replacer should I use? I do not bake that often so any pointer and proportion will be welcomed.
We don’t have much experience with egg substitutes, but if you do a quick google search, there should be a number of options listed – hopefully one will work for you!
I made the cake yesterday and it was delicious! The only thing was that the lavender scent wasn’t as pronounced as I’d hoped, probably because I’ve always loved any dessert with a hint of lavender :). I think the next time I’m going to to steep some lavender in the butter for the icing too to make it extra lavender-ish. But otherwise it was perfect!
Hi Sally- I made this cake last weekend to test it out for a wedding cake I’m making this summer. I filled it with lemon curd and iced it with Italian meringue buttercream flavored with lemon curd and lemon extract. I loved how the lemon flavors played off the lavender in the cake. The texture of the cake was amazing- moist and sturdy but not dense. My question is about how to increase the lavender flavors. I baked this cake on Saturday including the simple syrup, then wrapped in plastic wrap and chilled overnight. Sunday I filled and frosted it. On Sunday when I served it there was the most lovely delicate lavender flavor to the cake. On Monday when I tried it again, there was no lavender flavor at all. I was planning on baking the cakes two days prior to the wedding, but don’t want to loose all the lavender. What would you suggest to make it last longer or be more prominent? Thanks!
Hi Rebecca! So glad to hear you chose this cake recipe to make for a wedding. We love Tessa’s cakes and this one is fantastic. For the lavender flavor, the only thing I can think of (without altering the texture of the cake) is to add more of the dried culinary lavender to both the milk and syrup steps. Both call for 2 teaspoons, but increase to 3 teaspoons. Let the milk steep for longer, such as 45-60 minutes. It’s also possible that the lemon is overpowering the lavender flavor, so keep that in mind if you want to decrease the addition of lemon.
Made this for my mom’s birthday and it was a huge hit! I loved how the whole house smelled like lavender while making this cake. Excited to make it again and swap out lemon curd for the blackberry jam just to compare the two!
I’m gluten free but there is no good gf lavender cake recipe. Could I just make my classic gf vanilla cake and use the lavender techniques you use in this recipe? Would that work?
Hi Ariana! It’s hard to say without testing it ourselves, but we would love to hear how it goes if you give it a try. Sounds like it could be a perfect solution for you.
This was perhaps my most adventurous bake to date and it turned out really well. The instructions were very clear and specific. I almost ran out of icing at the end, but thankfully managed to scrap every last bit of out of the bowl. Not sure if I added too much sour cream, since I could taste it fairly prominently even once the cake was baked. Thanks for the recipe!
This cake was delicious! The lavender pairs so well with the blackberry. Since I did not have food coloring, I used about a tablespoon of blackberry preserves in the icing. There were a few small bits of fruit in the icing but I didn’t mind. This recipe makes such a beautiful cake.
This was so fun to make and came out perfectly! Beautiful cake and flavor. The only issue I had was that I did make the lavender syrup the day before and it crystalized overnight and was difficult to get back to the original consistency so next time I would make that same day. I did the milk and the frosting the day before also though and that worked well.
Hi, Sally, Forgive me if you’ve already answered this question, but if you use store-bought lavender syrup instead of making your own, how much would you use? Does the lavender syrup in your recipe yield 1/2 cup syrup? Or less?
Thanks in advance for your help here!
Hi Teresa, Some of the water evaporates while it’s simmering so it ends up being less than 1/2 cup of the syrup. If you use store bought, just generously brush your lavender syrup on the top of each cake after you level them.
Blackberries are NOT a spring fruit
August September is the ripened fruit time in the Pacific North West
This cake was so fun to make! I made the jam and the lavender milk last night and did the rest today. I’ve never made a cake with so many steps, but it turned out great (if I do say). Keeping the recipe to make again.
Can I exclude the sour cream from this recipe and if so is there another ingredient that has to increase in quantity?
Hi Meaghan, we don’t recommend leaving it out completely — you’ll need it to create a moist crumb. You can substitute full fat yogurt in a pinch.
How could I convert this to a six inch three layer cake?
Hi Emily, you can use the recipe as is, filling the pans 2/3 way full and using the leftover batter to make some cupcakes. Or, you can use our handy Cake Pan Sizes & Conversions guide to scale the recipe down for the 3, 6-inch cakes. Enjoy!
This recipe was divine! I made cupcakes and made my own cake flour, using your cake flour recipe. I also added the jam into the frosting. Flawless recipe- thank you!!!
Hi, I want to make this recipe but was wondering if instead of making the syrup I can just use the store-bought lavender syrup that I have?
Hi Ramsha, you can use that prepared lavender syrup as the soaking syrup. Let us know how it turns out for you!
Hi Sally! I was planning to make this as a 9”cake and then to top it with a 6” red velvet cake for my brother’s wedding in September, would this be possible or do you think the sponge would be too weak to support another cake tier on top? Thank you!
Hi Kerianne, It should work as a bottom tier as long as it’s properly supported. You can see exactly how we assemble and stack a two tier cake in this post on Simple Homemade Wedding Cakes.
Wonderful, thank you so much! I’m doing a test run of this recipe this coming weekend for my brother and fiance to taste and I can’t wait to try it myself 🙂
Hi Sally and team! Any thoughts on using whipped cream in place of the buttercream/cream cheese frosting? I’m just such a fan of the lightness of whipped cream paired with fruit…
Hi Leah! That’s a great idea, you could assemble like we did for this Fresh Berry Cream Cake. Would love to hear how it goes!
I made this cake for my mom’s birthday a few months back and EVERYBODY LOVED IT. I went a step further and decorated it with some cascading lavender meringues and it’s one of the prettiest things I’ve ever made.
I was wondering if the recipe would bake well as cupcakes?
That sounds absolutely beautiful, Jaimie. We’re so glad it was a hit! You can also make these into cupcakes — see recipe notes for full details.
Made this yesterday for thanksgiving and it was gorgeous. I added a little bit of blackberry jam to the frosting and it was delicious. My only problem was the actual cake layers. I baked them in 9 inch pans, followed all of the mixing directions exactly not over mixing but the cake still turned out really dense with some of it looking almost raw when it was cut. Any idea what went wrong?
Hi Macy, I wonder if the butter was either too warm or the batter was over-mixed (I know you said you didn’t over-mix). Did you by chance use less baking powder by accident? See if anything in my How to Prevent Dense Cakes is helpful too.
Hi Sally. I’m looking forward to making this lavendar cake! I would love to incorporate lemon and honey in this. What are your recommendations for including these ingredients in the cake (and ideally not the buttercream) ? Thanks!
Hi Divya, We haven’t tried incorporating those flavors to this exact recipe and it would take additional recipe testing to give you a confident answer. You can try using this lemon layer cake with the lavender soaking syrup and substituting a small amount of honey for some of the sugar – but we haven’t tested it. Let us know what you try!
Would it be possible to substitute the milk for 1% buttermilk?
Hi Avery, Yes that should be fine!
I was wondering if four 6-inch cake pans would also work for this recipe? Thank you
Hi Danielle, You can read all about changing the size of a cake in our post on Cake Pan Sizes and Conversions. Happy baking!
Do you know how you adjusted the bake time? Looking to do the same this weekend!
I made this for a birthday party this weekend and got rave reviews!! Everyone loved it, thanks for posting this wonderful recipe!!!
Hi Sally! I’m not a fan of using food coloring and looking for a natural sugestion. Do you know a few drops of the juice from blackberries will work to color the frosting purple?
Hi Diane, Yes, that should work. Just remember adding too much liquid to the frosting will result in a thinner frosting. You can also see how we make naturally purple blackberry frosting in this recipe for Lemon Cupcakes with Blackberry Cream Cheese Frosting.
This was SO good. There is a cafe in Norman, OK called The Earth that sells delicious lavender cake. I don’t live in there anymore, but I was CRAVING some lavender cake. I made this with some dried lavender buds from my plant and it was soooo delicious. I did the cupcake version and halved the recipe and I got a dozen cupcakes. I brushed them with the syrup a couple times to really get it soaked in. I really could have eaten these without the icing they were that delicious. My husband loved these too. Thank you for sharing this awesome recipe! I will definitely make again!
What a beautiful cake! Would it be possible to substitute Greek yoghurt for the sour cream? I would love to make this cake, but have no sour cream 🙁 Thanks!
So good! The lavender milk and syrup have the perfect amount of lavender. Such a pretty show stopper. I may try with decorating with one of Sally’s Swiss Buttercream frostings next time to make it less sweet for those of us in the house who have a lighter sweet tooth. :-). I will be making this again. A keeper!
Can this be made into a sheet cake?
Hi Erica, We haven’t tested this in a 9×13 pan yet but let us know if you do. If it helps, here’s our cake pan sizes and conversions guide!
I’ve never worked with a cream cheese buttercream frosting before! I am wondering if it holds up to layering and smooths well for decorating? Typically cream cheese frostings do not because they’re too loosely and don’t firm up well even when chilled, but I really prefer their taste to swiss meringue buttercream. Thoughts?
Hi Amy, Be sure to use full fat blocks of cream cheese (NOT the cream cheese spread sold in a tub) and your frosting should be great for both between layers and on the outside of the cake.
Hi Sally, this is a fabulous looking cake! I’m planning to make this one for my daughter’s birthday and since she doesn’t like buttercream frostings to be too sweet, may I substitute the Cream Cheese Buttercream with your Swiss Meringue Buttercream? My concern is that the Swiss Meringue Buttercream may not hold the blackberry jam, or am I worrying too much? 🙂 Thank you again for your amazing recipes!
Hi Kelly! Swiss meringue buttercream would be fantastic with this cake. Nothing to worry about!
Woohoo! Thank you so much for responding to my question. YOU ARE THE BEST!