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Author Notes: My mom's birthday was fast approaching, and I asked her what she wanted. Of course, ever the benevolent grandmother, she suggested "whatever Ben (her grandson) will eat." Anyone with a 2-year-old knows that if a food has the word "cake" in it, kids will gobble it up. But I still wanted to gear this dessert to my Mom's tastes, which meant it had to be not too sweet.
I started with an old Joy of Cooking cake recipe and decreased the sugar, whipped up the egg whites to make the crumb very light, and added a ton of lemon. The strawberries in the center work to balance out the richness of the lavender whipped cream. If you are unsure of using lavender, you may want to use a bit less than I suggested. For timing purposes, steep the lavender in the cream first, then let it cool while you bake and cool the cakes. —meganvt01
Food52 Review: I was pleasantly surprised with the sturdy and fairly moist finished dessert, though I'd recommend a brush of simple syrup on the cake before frosting. The lavender whipped cream has a pleasant flavoring that's not overpowering. I'd recommend make extra to spread all over the cake -- you won't be sorry. All the elements come together to make a lovely, well-balanced dessert -- one especially nice for an occasion. —Katherine
Makes 1 cake
Lemon Poppy Seed Cake
- 3 cups cake flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup milk
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 4 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 1/2 plus 1/3 cups granulated sugar, divided
- 4 eggs, at room temperature
- 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
- Sift together the dry ingredients in a bowl (flour, baking powder, and salt). In another bowl, mix together the wet ingredients (milk, vanilla, lemon juice, and lemon zest).
- Beat the butter on high speed until it is light and creamy. Add 1 1/2 cups of the sugar and beat until it is nice, light yellow color. (I used my stand mixer but you can use a regular mixer.)
- On medium speed: Alternate adding a third of the dry ingredients and a third of the wet ingredients to the butter mixture, beating just until combined each time. Repeat until all of the wet and dry ingredients are added.
- In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites, the remaining 1/3 cup sugar, and the cream of tartar together until the mixture forms stiff peaks. Carefully fold the whipped egg whites into the cake batter.
- Distribute the batter evenly into two 9-inch cake pans, which have been greased and dusted with flour.
- Bake the cakes at 350° F until the they are set in the middle (30 to 35 minutes). Let the cake cool completely.
Lavender Whipped Cream and Cake Assembly
- 2 cups heavy whipping cream
- 1 teaspoon dried lavender buds
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 pint strawberries, sliced
- In a saucepan, bring the cream and lavender to a simmer, then remove from heat. Steep the mixture for 5 minutes, testing the flavor of the cream periodically -- stop steeping when you like the intensity of the lavender flavor. Strain the lavender from the cream. Cool completely in the refrigerator
- Whip the cream to stiff peaks, then add the sugar and vanilla. We used a mix of blue and red food coloring to make the cream lavender colored (the 2-year-old helping insisted), but you can leave it white if you prefer.
- Place one layer of the cake on a plate. Spread 1 to 2 cups whipped cream on the first layer, then cover it with strawberries. Top this layer with the next round of cake, then frost the entire cake with the remaining whipped cream and decorate it with strawberries.