Serves a Crowd

Lavender and Coconut Layer Cake with Lavender Italian Meringue Frosting (aka my favorite birthday cake!)

September  2, 2011
1 Ratings
  • Serves 15 or more birthday guests
Author Notes

I am slightly obsessed with lavender. I love to wear it as a perfume, I love to keep pots of it at home, and I love to eat it! I even have a secret desire to name my future daughter Lavender (I just have to get my husband on board...). So for my last birthday, I decided to treat myself to a lavender birthday cake. I was inspired by Ina Garten's Coconut Layer Cake, though I've made a fair number of tweaks. I was also inspired by Someonewhobakes' recipe for Vanilla/Infused Italian Meringue (, though I again make some tweaks. The end result is a delicious, big, lavender-heaven cake. —CarlaCooks

What You'll Need
  • Cake
  • 170 grams / 3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for greasing the cake pans
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons dried culinary lavender
  • 5 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla sugar, or 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons coconut extract (optional)
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the pans
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup coconut milk (full fat is best)
  • 110 grams / 4 ounces sweetened shredded coconut
  • Some sliced strawberries (optional)
  • Lavender-Infused Italian Meringue Frosting
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon lavender
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 6 egg whites, slightly warmed (in a bowl of water for a minute or two)
  • Pinch of cream of tartar
  • 340 grams / 1 1/2 cups butter, at room temperature, cubed
  • Sweetened shredded coconut, for dusting
  1. Start with the cake. Preheat the over to 175 C / 350 F. Grease two 22 cm / 9 inch round spring-form cake pans, then line the bottom with parchment paper. Grease the top of the parchment paper and dust the whole pan with flour, shaking out the excess.
  2. Add the two teaspoons of lavender to the two cups of sugar and place in a seal-able Tupperware. Shake and let sit for at least 30 minutes.
  3. After the sugar has infused with the lavender, add it to the butter (lavender and all) in the bowl of a stand mixer. Cream together until light yellow and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time. When fully incorporated, add the vanilla sugar (or vanilla extract) and coconut extract and mix well.
  4. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. With the mixer on low, alternately add the dry ingredients and the coconut milk to the batter in three parts. Mix until just combined. Fold in the 4 ounces of coconut.
  5. Pour the batter evenly into the two prepared cake pans. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, until a toothpick come out clean. Cool completely before removing from the spring-form and frosting.
  6. Now it's time for the frosting. Add the teaspoon of lavender to the 1 1/2 cups sugar in a sealable Tupperwave. Cover, shake, and allow to sit for at least 30 minutes.
  7. Combine the lavender-infused sugar (1 1/2 cups) and the water in a small saucepan (lavender and all) and bring to a boil. Using a candy thermometer, simmer the syrup until it reaches 238 F.
  8. Meanwhile, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar in the bowl of a stand mixer until it forms stiff peaks. Slowly add the remaining 1/4 cup sugar with the mixer on. Once incorporate, slowly pour in the hot syrup with the mixer running on high speed. Your white will deflate a good bit, but don’t panic J Once all of the syrup has been added, continue to beat the white for 7 minutes, or until they regain some of their height and are stiff again.
  9. With the mixer still running, add the butter a bit at a time, allowing each addition to be fully incorporated. Your mixture may look like it is separating, but continue to remain calm and just beat the hell out of it until it resembles frosting.
  10. Frost the bottom layer of your now-cooled cake with a healthy dose of frosting. If you’re feeling indulgent, add a layer of strawberries! Place the second layer on top, then frost the entire cake. Once frosted, dust the cake with the sweetened shredded coconut. This makes a very tall and large cake, so cut small pieces. Enjoy!

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • ChefSteadfastMT
  • hardlikearmour
  • CarlaCooks
  • neighome

20 Reviews

neighome December 18, 2023
This is a lovely cake. I've made it twice to rave reviews! I'm wondering if anyone has tried freezing the layers. I'd like to bake the cake early, then frost on the day I will serve it.
Lisa April 22, 2018
The thing that you REALLY need to mention in the buttercream instructions is that one should only add the butter AFTER the meringue has cooled (while still whipping) to room temperature. Otherwise, the butter will melt and it will deflate and be soup. This is probably the most important step in creating a successful buttercream, and depending on one’s room temperature, it can take up to 15 minutes to cool. I have found that putting a fan blowing directly at the bowl speeds this process up a lot. The butter also must be softened, not too much, not too little. If it chunks while adding, don’t worry. Just keep whipping until it is smooth. This WILL happen! But if the meringue is still even slightly warm, it will melt the butter and there is no going back at that point.
Ceecee January 27, 2016
Just finish making the cake and was working on the frosting but gave up. I was mixing it for over 15 minutes and it did not seem to me it was going to look like frosting. Do you know why this could have happened? I followed ever step. Thanks!
CarlaCooks February 1, 2016
Hi Ceecee, sorry to hear the frosting didn't work for you. There are a few things that can go wrong with an Italian meringue: adding the hot sugar syrup too quickly, not having enough volume in your egg white to begin with, or not re-whipping the eggs long enough after adding the syrup. I'm not sure why yours didn't work. You can always use a regular buttercream frosting for this cake. Good luck!
Helen January 5, 2015
Hi, how long will this cake keep (provided it doesn't get eaten straight away).
CarlaCooks January 7, 2015
Hi Helen, it's been a while since I've made this cake, but I remember it lasting for several days without drying out too much. I would try to keep the exposed parts covered in plastic, though, to make sure. Enjoy!
Katerina November 14, 2014
Hi! This is a long shot, because I want to bake now... But could use essential lavender oil instead of dried? our lavender plants have all died for the winter.. Have you tried it with oil??
CarlaCooks November 15, 2014
Hi Katerina. I've never cooked with lavender oil, so I'm afraid I don't really know if it would work. I would try adding it to the wet batter, like you would add vanilla extract to a batter. Add just a bit at a time and taste after mixing to see if the flavor is strong enough. Good luck, and enjoy!
Julia July 18, 2014
how does it rise? would this work as cupcakes? any information would be so helpful right now :D thanks for everything looks like a great recipe <3
CarlaCooks July 20, 2014
Hi Julia, I think they would make great cupcakes! The cake does rise, but not too much. You could probably fill the cupcake tin 3/4 full. Let me know how it goes :)
Julia November 15, 2014
It worked out perfect! most tender and fluffy cupcakes ever! I made a few changes as i simmered the coconut milk with lavender for a bit then strained it off and also infused the lavender into the sugar.
CarlaCooks November 15, 2014
Oh, simmering the coconut milk with lavender is a great idea! Glad you liked the recipe :)
bakerdayandnight July 22, 2012
I'm currently making the frosting and it seems to have deflated after putting the butter in, what should I do?
CarlaCooks July 23, 2012
Hi bakerdayandnight. The frosting looks like it breaks after adding the butter, but if you whip it long enough, it comes back together like magic! Just like you mixer beat the hell out of it :) I hope you enjoy! The frosting is a good bit of work, but the results are worth it.
Lizaluuu November 27, 2011
I just made this cake yesterday for my best friend's birthday. Wow, it was amazing. The lavender was subtle discernable. I used unsweetened coconut (all I could find at the store), which I soaked in milk for 30 minutes then strained and patted dry. I didn't add any additional sugar to the cake and it was delicious. The frosting turned out perfectly after a lot of whipping on the highest setting of the KitchenAid mixer (do these things go to 11?). Thanks for the awesome recipe!!
CarlaCooks July 23, 2012
Thanks for the comments, Lizaluuu! I'm glad you and your friend enjoyed the cake. I am a lavender fiend and can't help but to put it in as many baked goods as possible! And I know exactly what you mean about an 11 on a KitchenAid ;)
ChefSteadfastMT November 22, 2011
It was a good friend's birthday on Sunday and I after joining the food 52 community recently I decided to try your cake and it was AMAZING! I am studying in Sweden so it was a bit hard to find the lavender but I ended up with dried lavender that was supposed to be used for tea but it worked!! I didn't use the same icing but it still turned out really well! My friend and my other friends who tried it loved it! They said they never thought you could bake with lavender... But thanks to you we will be making this AWESOME cake again!!
CarlaCooks November 22, 2011
I'm so glad you liked it, ChefSteadfastMT! I live in Copenhagen, so I understand your difficulties in finding culinary lavender. But great idea with the tea lavender! I usually buy my lavender from a specialty baking store in Denmark, or in the States when I go to visit. Lavender is such a fantastic flavor!
hardlikearmour September 2, 2011
You are an inspired genius! I love, love, love lavender and coconut! This cake is on my must make list. AWESOME!
CarlaCooks September 14, 2011
Ah, that's a very sweet thing to hear, hardlikearmour. Thanks! It's a pretty dense cake, and filled to the brim with lavender flavor.... what more could you want? ;)