I made a cake! I made a cake and it didn’t suck!
Nah, I can make a cake, but they usually aren’t professional status like this one.
I’m a pretty hesitant baker. I don’t have a lot of confidence in my baking yet because I’m still pretty new to it and the learning curve is steep. I’ve come a long way! I remember one Thanksgiving, I brought a chocolate pudding cake to a friend’s house. I bought the crust at the grocery store and just put my pudding mixture in it and let it set. I didn’t realize you had to bake it! We all had a great laugh when they went to eat it. I was mortified. They said the pudding part was good, though! Anyway, any time I try a new recipe, I really stick to it hard. I really can’t tell you why, but this time around I veered down another path by adding lemon and tweaking some amounts and bam! Best cake I’ve ever made. I guarantee it was just lucky and has a lot to do with the amazing base recipe.
I posted about it on my personal Facebook and my Instagram story and I got a lot of people asking for the recipe. Asking ME for a recipe. Curiouser and curiouser. So, I’m retracing my steps and reverse engineering. I’ve never done this before, so I really have to apologize if these instructions aren’t the best. You’re going to have to use your best judgment.
I also want to thank the Recipe Wench for her vanilla lavender cake recipe, which this was where my cake started. The base is all her!
3 Cups cake flour
4 Teaspoons baking powder
2 Tablespoons D’vine Dev culinary lavender – crush with fingers first or use a mortar and pestle
1 Teaspoon salt
1-1/2 Sticks unsalted butter, softened (I always prefer European style. It just tastes better.)
1-1/2 Cups sugar
2 Whole eggs
4 egg yolks
2 Teaspoons vanilla extract
1 Teaspoon almond extract
Zest of 1 lemon
1-1/4 Cup milk
2 Cups unsalted butter, softened
6 Cups powdered sugar
4 Tablespoons Torani lavender simple syrup
3 Teaspoon vanilla extract
Juice of 1 Lemon
- Preheat oven to 350ºF
- Prepare 2 round inch cake pans with nonstick spray or butter. I also recommend using parchment paper on the bottom of the pan to help easily remove your cake when it’s finished, just in case. I also recommend taking every ingredient you’ll be using out now so you can make sure you don’t miss anything.
- In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, dried lavender and salt.
- Temper the white chocolate. If you haven’t done this before, it’s super easy! You create a double boiler by boiling water on the stove in a pot. Once boiling, turn off the heat and place the white chocolate in a glass bowl or another pot and place over the top of the water pot on the stove. Stir your chocolate until melted and remove from heat. Note: I used Ghirardelli chips for this, but you can also use a bar or any kind of white chocolate. I just really love the flavor of Ghiradelli and I wanted a bad ass cake.
- In a large bowl, beat softened butter. This really should be at room temperature, but if you’re like me and forgot to do this, you can put it in the microwave VERY briefly to soften. You don’t want to melt it, so no more than fifteen seconds. It’s really much better if you take the time and let your butter come to room temperature. Don’t be like me.
- Add sugar and beat until fluffy.
- Beat in whole eggs and egg yolks, vanilla extract, almond extract, white chocolate and lemon zest.
- Slowly add the dry ingredients and milk to your wet ingredients. Alternate between the dry ingredients and milk, doing about a fourth of each every time. You want to mix these in smaller amounts to ensure that you really mix everything well and you get all the lumps out. Don’t forget to taste your batter! Make sure it’s to your liking before baking.
- Divide your cake batter evenly between the two cake pans. Bake at 350ºF for 40 minutes. Test if your cake is ready by placing a toothpick through the middle of your cake. If it comes out dry, it’s done. If any ingredients come out and it’s wet, put it back in the oven. Keep in mind that every oven is different and bake times may vary. Keep an eye on your cake and don’t be afraid to test a few times. Poke that mother fucker as much as you like. We’re covering it with frosting, so it’s all good.
- While your cakes are baking, I recommend using this time to clean your kitchen. There’s no need to rush to your frosting. You’ll need to let your cakes cool for a while before you can frost them anyway, so may as well get that clean up out of the way!
- Once your cakes are ready, you’ll want to take them out of their pans and let them finish cooling on a rack. Using a wire rack (or if you don’t have one, a large plate or baking sheet will do the trick) and place over the top of your cake pan. Securely holding them together, flip your cake pan over onto the wire rack. If you’ve properly prepared your cake pan, you should be able to just remove the cake pan easily. If you done fucked up, you may need to flip it back over and take a knife to the sides. Try not to fuss with them too much. You don’t want them to fall apart. If you’re really struggling to get them out, I feel like it’s better to just put them in the freezer in the pan. And if you don’t already have some leakproof springform pans, I highly recommend the Nordic Ware ones! They’re improved my quality of life.
- For the freezing process, and I want to first tell you the right way to do this, and then tell you what I did. Technically, you want to let your cakes cool to room temperature before freezing them. Then, you would wrap them in tin foil and freeze them overnight, or at least 2-3 hours. The next day, you would start by trimming the rounded top. Well, I was determined for this cake to take no more than 3 hours start to finish, so I said fuck that. I put my cakes in the freezer warm without wrapping them. If you’re in a hurry and placing them in the freezer warm, do not wrap them unless you want to have a real struggle! Anyway, I let them cool for about 20 minutes, then took them out to trim the top. I put them back in the freezer for about 20 minutes and then took them out for their first coat of frosting. If you do this process the correct way, obviously it will yield the best results. If you want your cake right goddamn now because you want to eat it for dinner, then do it the wrong way and I promise it will still be fine. I mean, no matter how far astray this process goes, HOPEFULLY your cake still tastes good. Ugly doesn’t mean inedible.
- While your cakes are in the freezer, you can make your frosting! I like to start by beating the ingredients, and once they’re fairly mixed, I finish with a spatula. The buttercream should be whipped fairly good and light, but also thick enough to hold form. You may need to add more butter or sugar or syrup depending on the consistency. If it’s too sweet, add butter or salt. If it’s not thick enough, add sugar. If it’s too thick, add syrup. I didn’t exactly measure this and more went on texture and taste. Again, don’t forget to taste this!
- Once your cakes are ready, we can start assembling. Start by poking some holes in the top of your cake with a fork. Using a pastry brush, swipe a thin layer of lavender simple syrup over the top of your cake. This will help immensely both with flavor and bringing some extra moisture to your cake.
- Frost the top of one of your cakes. Place the second cake on top and frost the top of that as well. Then you’ll want to work on the sides. Using an offset spatula, bring some frosting around the side and smooth out your frosting. You can use a bench scraper to really smooth the sides, but that’s only if you want a perfect finish. I ran out of ingredients when I made this, so I didn’t even it out. I figured my messy finish would at least cover the sides.
- After your first layer of buttercream, place your cake in the freezer again for 15 minutes. You’re going to do a second layer of frosting as a crumb coat. You need to freeze your cake so that first layer of frosting can set, and the “crumb coat” is to cover whatever crumbs are showing after that previous layer. It’s especially important here if you were hasty and blew through the freezing process like I did.
- Add your second layer of frosting and then it’s time to decorate! I used some wilted leftover flowers from Valentine’s Day, but do as you please! Some fresh lavender would have been lovely. 😊
And voila! There you have it. I never in a million years would have though I’d be putting a recipe on my blog. My oh my! I did my best with the knowledge I have to give you the right information. If anyone makes this, please let me know how it turns out and if there’s something I could have done better for a recipe blog. If there’s a next time, I’ll be sure to document my steps in pictures. I didn’t realize I would be posting about, so I didn’t even think to do it. 😊
P.S. See my ultimate cake cutting failure here.