Lemon and lavender is one of my favorite spring flavor combos! This lemon lavender layer cake has light, lemony cake layers, is filled with homemade lemon curd, and topped with lavender swiss meringue buttercream. This cake is decorated with candied lemons and dried lavender for the most stunning spring cake!
For more spring flavors, you might also like this lemon biscotti or these lavender macarons!
I recommend making layer cakes over the course of 2 days because it's just easier. So make the cake layers, lemon curd, and candied lemons the night before, then do the buttercream and decorating the next day.
- Cake flour - I always use cake flour in my cakes because it makes them super soft and tender, but all purpose flour also works great!
- Milk - I use milk in my cakes to keep them nice and moist, but you could also substitute full-fat plain yogurt or sour cream!
- Lemon extract - When you're baking, you never want to add to much acid because it can effect how your baked goods rise. This poses a problem with lemon desserts. The best way to get all the lemon flavor with none of the acidity is lemon extract! I prefer the paste, but you can also get it in a liquid form. You should be able to find it in the baking aisle at your local grocery store!
- Lemon juice & zest - I highly recommend using fresh lemons for the best flavor! But you can always substitute with a little bottled lemon juice if necessary.
- Lavender - I use lavender extract in the swiss meringue buttercream for that slight lavender flavor! You can find lavender extract in the baking aisle at most grocery stores, or online! Just note that lavender extract is very strong, so a little goes a long way!
I've included my recipes for homemade lemon curd and candied lemons in the recipe card, but you can check out the full blog posts for extra tips and tricks!
How to Make Lemon Cake Layers
Preheat the oven to 350°F and lightly spray three 6 inch layer cake pans with pan spray.
Whisk the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl.
In a separate bowl, whisk the melted butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla, lemon extract, and lemon zest together until combined.
Stir in about half of the flour mixture. Then stir in the milk and the rest of the flour mixture and mix until fully combined. The batter will be thin.
Pour ⅓ of the batter into each cake pan (they will only be about half full). Bake at 350°F for 20-30 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.
Place a cooling rack on top of each cake pan and invert. The pan should slide cleanly away.
Let the cakes cool completely to room temperature before trimming.
Once the cakes are fully cooled. Using a sharp bread knife, trim the cakes until the layers are even. Wrap each layer tightly in plastic wrap and place in the freezer overnight.
Swiss Meringue Buttercream Notes
I love Swiss meringue buttercream because it's not nearly as sweet as traditional American buttercream and it's super stable which makes it great for layer cakes. It sounds kind of intimidating, but I promise it's actually super easy!
Best of all, swiss meringue buttercream uses egg whites while the homemade lemon curd uses egg yolks! So no leftovers!
To make meringue, you really need a stand mixer. A hand mixer will do in a pinch, but be forewarned that your arm will get tired!
Note: Depending on the type of bowl you use, it may take longer for the swiss meringue to cool. I have glass, stainless, and ceramic KitchenAid bowls and I've found the stainless cools fastest.
How to Assemble a Three Layer Cake
Remove cake layers from the freezer. Place the bottom layer of cake on your cake stand and spread a thin layer of buttercream over the top. Then pipe a thick border of buttercream around the edge.
Spoon lemon curd evenly over the middle (about ¼ cup).
Place the next layer on top and repeat.
Place the final cake layer upside down so that the top of your cake is as even as possible. Smooth the rest of the buttercream on the top and sides of your cake as desired.
Use buttercream to attach candied lemon slices to the side of the cake.
Refrigerate the lemon lavender layer cake for 2-3 hours before slicing and serving.
How to Get Perfect Cake Layers
There are a few tricks that will help you get perfect, even layers for lemon lavender cake!
First, you need good nonstick cake pans and pan spray. I use three 6×2 inch Fat Daddio’s layer cake pans and I love them!! It's super important to get actual layer cake pans because the sides are perfectly straight! It's a little annoying because this means you can't stack them, but your layers will have perfect sides! With just a tiny bit of pan spray, the cakes just slide right out and never stick! For pan spray, I love both Everbake Pan Spray and Baker's Joy!
Next, is trimming your cake. This can be a little tricky, but it's super easy once you do it a couple times. Let the cakes cool completely to room temperature, then take a large bread knife and very carefully slice off the very top of the cake so that you have a perfectly even layer. I like using a big bread knife because it's sharp, serrated, and long enough to go through the entire layer at one time.
And of course freezing the layers! So after you've let the cake layers cool completely and trimmed them. Wrap each layer tightly in plastic wrap in place in the freezer overnight. Don't take them out until right before you start assembling the cake! This allows the frosting to slide on smoothly and prevents any crumbs from getting in the frosting.
Tips for the Best Baked Goods
Use room temperature ingredients! Always make sure ingredients like butter, eggs, milk, yogurt, etc. are at room temperature before baking (unless the recipe indicates otherwise)! This ensures they'll incorporate into the batter more easily and leads to overall better texture. Remove all ingredients from the fridge 30 minutes to an hour before baking for best results.
Measure your flour correctly! It's most accurate to use a kitchen scale, but if you're measuring by volume you want to spoon and level! Fluff up the flour a bit with a spoon, and then spoon flour into the measuring cup. Once it's overflowing, use the back of a knife to level it off. Don't ever pack flour into the measuring cup or you'll end up with way too much! Improperly measured flour can lead to dry, dense baked goods. [Measure cocoa powder the same way!]
Use an oven thermometer! Just because your oven says it's 350, doesn't mean it is! If you oven hasn't been calibrated recently, it can be as much as 30 degrees off, which will negatively affect all baked goods from cakes to macarons! An oven thermometer is the easiest/cheapest way to ensure your oven is always at the proper temperature.
Make sure you baking powder is fresh! Baking powder is important for helping baked goods rise properly, but it has a relatively short shelf life once opened, so it's one of the few items I never buy in bulk! To test if your baking powder is still fresh, add a small amount to boiling water. If it bubbles it's still good to use, but if not it's time to toss it!
Cake Decorating Tips
- I absolutely love my rotating cake stand! I hesitated buying one for a long time, but it really does make getting nice, even frosting so much easier!
- My must have tools for frosting cakes are an offset spatula and an icing smoother. Both are super helpful in achieving that perfect, smooth outside frosting.
- I use a 6 inch cake board to transfer my cakes from the turning caking stand, to the stand I like to photograph with.
Candied Lemons - The best thing about candied lemons is that they're still a bit sticky, so they'll adhere to the sides of your cake easily! They're a simple way to make this lemon lavender cake look elegant!
Dried Lavender - You can find full bouquets of dried lavender flowers online and at local flower shops! Trader Joe's often has large bundles of dried lavender which is what I used for these photos! I also just keep it around my house at all times.
Yes!! The lemon cake layers can be made and frozen up to a month in advance! Wrap the layers indivuvally with plastic wrap, and then seal in a freezer safe bag for the best results.
This lemon cake recipe is designed for 3 six inch cake pans. But it will also work well with 2 eight inch cake pans.
Store this lemon lavender layer cake in the fridge for up to 4 days.
Tips for Success!
For best results I always recommend using weight measurements (especially when baking) because it's the most accurate. Kitchen scales are super affordable and also reduce the number of dishes you have to do! However, all my recipes also include US customary measurements for convince. Use this chart to convert measurements for common ingredients!
Substitutions: In all my recipes, I've included substitutions that I know will work, but I cannot guarantee results if you substitute ingredients that I have not recommended. [For example, granulated sugar and honey are indeed both sweeteners but they have very different properties so they can not always be swapped 1:1. Using honey in a cookie recipe that calls for granulated sugar will yield a giant mess.] In the recipe card you'll find links to the specific ingredients/brands that I use.
A note on salt: I almost exclusively use Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt because it's the best all-purpose salt for cooking and baking. If you're not using kosher salt, consult this handy guide for a conversion chart! When in doubt, if you're using table salt just reduce the amount by half for baked goods. When cooking, I prefer to under-salt because you can always add more! If you've over-salted, adding a little bit of acid (like lemon juice) can help.
More Recipes You Might Like!
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Lemon Lavender Layer Cake with Swiss Meringue Buttercream
- double boiler
- 6 large egg yolks
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons lemon zest
- ½ cup lemon juice
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 cup unsalted butter, melted
- 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs, room temperature
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon lemon extract paste, optional
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- 2 ½ cups cake flour, substitute all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¾ cup whole milk
Swiss Meringue Buttercream
- 6 large egg whites, room temperature
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 ½ cups unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon lavender extract paste
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- I recommend making the lemon curd the night before you make the cake so that it has time to fully cool.
- Create a double boiler by bringing 1-2 inches of water to a simmer in a small saucepan. Place a heatproof glass bowl on top and make sure it's not touching the water.
- Add the egg yolks, sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest, and salt into the top of your double boiler. Whisk until completely combined and then continue to whisk as the lemon curd cooks (constant whisking prevents the lemon curd from curdling). Continue to whisk the lemon curd for 10-15 minutes or until it become thick and paler in color (it should be similar to the consistency of hollandaise sauce). If the lemon curd isn’t thickening, turn up the heat and constantly whisk.
- Once thickened, remove the glass bowl from the heat. Cut the butter into chunks and whisk into the lemon curd until fully combined and smooth. If desire, pass through fine mesh strainer and then pour into a glass jar. Let cool to room temperature and then cover and store in the fridge.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F and lightly spray three 6 inch layer cake pans with pan spray.
- Whisk the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl.
- In a separate bowl, whisk the melted butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla, lemon extract, and lemon zest together until combined.
- Stir in about half of the flour mixture. Then stir in the milk and the rest of the flour mixture and mix until fully combined. The batter will be thin.
- Pour ⅓ of the batter into each cake pan (they will only be about half full). Bake at 350°F for 20-30 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.
- Place a cooling rack on top of each cake pan and invert. The pan should slide cleanly away.
- Let the cakes cool completely to room temperature before trimming.
- Once the cakes are fully cooled. Using a sharp bread knife, trim the cakes until the layers are even. Wrap each layer tightly in plastic wrap and place in the freezer overnight.
Swiss Meringue Buttercream
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk the sugar into the egg whites then set the bowl over a saucepan filled with about two inches of simmering water over medium heat. Do not let the bottom of the egg whites bowl touch the water. Whisk the whites and sugar constantly until sugar is dissolved and mixture has thinned out (about 3-4 minutes).
- Place the bowl on the stand mixer and fit with the whisk attachment. On medium-high speed, beat the mixture until stiff peaks form and the meringue is no longer warm to the touch, at least 10-15 minutes. If it’s still not reaching stiff peaks, stop the mixer, place the bowl in the fridge for 10 minutes, then return to the mixer and continue beating until stiff peaks form.
- If the bowl and meringue still feel warm, wait until both cool to room temperature before adding the butter in the next step (or else the butter will melt). You can place the bowl in the fridge to speed up cooling.
- Switch the stand mixer to the paddle attachment. On medium-high speed, add the butter 1 tablespoon at a time. Wait for the butter to fully mix in before adding the next tablespoon. After all the butter has been added, turn the mixer down to medium speed and fully beat in the lavender extract and salt for about 30 seconds.
- The buttercream should be thick, creamy, and smooth. If your mixture has become too thin and soupy after you add the butter, place the entire bowl in the refrigerator for 20 minutes to cool down, then return it to the mixer and beat on medium-high speed until thickened.
Assemble the Cake
- Remove cake layers from the freezer. Place the bottom layer of cake on your cake stand and spread a thin layer of buttercream over the top. Then pipe a thick border of buttercream around the edge. Spoon lemon curd evenly over the middle (about ¼ cup). Place the next layer on top and repeat.
- Place the final cake layer upside down so that the top of your cake is as even as possible. Smooth the rest of the buttercream on the top and sides of your cake as desired. Use buttercream to attach candied lemon slices to the side of the cake.
The nutritional information on this website is only an estimate and is provided for convenience and as a courtesy only. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.
Loved this recipe! I made it for my niece’s bridal shower. Every one enjoyed it! I still need to perfect my Swiss meringue buttercream but by far my favorite frosting!!! Wish I could post a picture of my final product. I was very happy with it.
Made this recipe as a birthday cake it was a HUGE hit! Will definitely use it again. It was my first time separating egg yolks from whites let alone making a lemon curd or swiss mergingue buttercream but the instructions were perfect and they both came out wonderfully though I might add a touch more lavender extract paste to the buttercream next time to bring that flavor out some more. Also - where I am it the lavender extract paste isn't commonly sold so make sure you don't shop last minute just in case!
The cake itself was fabulous however the first time I used a cooking spray and it stuck to the pan. On my second attempt I used crisco and made a couple changes and wound up with a moister cake than the first attempt. I did metric weights instead of US and I used room temp butter instead of melted which I creamed into the sugar before adding the other ingredients. Not sure which change caused it but I wound up with a thick batter so I gradually added extra milk in small amounts until it was thin.
It's a shame this recipe hasn't gotten more traffic - it really is exceptional.