Chamomile Honey Cake with Lavender Buttercream
Warm notes of ginger, nutmeg, and vanilla with a hint of lemon compliment this chamomile and honey cake. I’ve paired it with a lavender vanilla buttercream and a white chocolate ganache filling. This cake has so many wonderful flavors coming together yet one does not overwhelm the other. I consider this cake to be a heavier cake, denser and more likened to the texture of a pound cake and intentionally so. The richness comes from the butter and buttermilk and added sweetness is from the honey which is perfectly paired with chamomile. The lavender buttercream brings adjoining floral notes and is not overly potent while the white chocolate ganache filling adds a level of sweetness and a creamy texture. My inspiration for this cake? An abundance of chamomile and lavender that was left over from a trip to a local farm a while back!
Here's a little bit about the key ingredients that make this cake so good:
Cake Flour. Cake flour is used because it has a lesser amount of protein in it, resulting in less gluten forming and creating the light and fluffy texture we need in cakes. Cake flour will help to give a soft and delicate crumb. No cake flour? No problem! Substitute by removing 2 tablespoons of flour from 1 cup of all-purpose flour and replace those 2 tablespoons with arrowroot or cornstarch powder.
Buttermilk. I use buttermilk in nearly all of my cake recipes; it’s liquid gold in my kitchen. Buttermilk adds moisture, neutralizes the cake to prevent it from becoming overly sweet and gives added rich, buttery taste. If you don’t have buttermilk, try mixing heavy cream or milk with white vinegar and lemon (I recommend heavy cream). You’ll want to add 1 tablespoon of vinegar to a 1 cup measuring cup and fill the remaining cup with heavy cream. Stir in a squeeze of lemon juice and mix well.
Oil. I’ve used cooled, melted coconut oil in this recipe for a healthier option however vegetable oil works just fine.
Chamomile. You’ll want to brew ¼ cup of strong chamomile tea for this recipe. Allow it to come to room temperature before baking with it. I used loose tea for this recipe but using 2 or 3 bags of chamomile tea works well too.
Lavender Extract. The lavender extract is for buttercream. You can make your own (more on that later) but I absolutely recommend trying Lavender Extract Paste from Taylor and Colledge. It’s a perfect blend, is not too strong and measures well into baking.
Some helpful advice before getting started:
-Make sure all the ingredients are at room temperature (buttermilk and eggs). This will help these ingredients to blend beautifully into the batter.
-The butter should be softened to incorporate well into the flour mixture, creating the coarse sand texture that is needed.
-Note that if you do not plan on crumb coating the cake on the same day it is baked, you can wrap cakes in plastic wrap and leave on the counter. Leaving the cakes in the refrigerator will dry your cake out faster. If you plan on baking ahead and frosting later, it is best to place wrapped cakes in freezer bags and leave in the freezer instead until time of use. See directions below for crumb coating and applying buttercream.
-This cake is baked at 330°F, which is typically lower than what we often see in recipes. I bake this cake at a slightly lower temperature to avoid the outside of the cake from becoming too brown or having the edges burn. Every oven is different and while the baking time is 45 to 50 minutes, keep an eye on your cakes! If it seems too jiggly or underbaked, add an additional 5 minutes until cakes are baked through.
Let's get baking!
Chamomile Honey Cake with Lavender Buttercream
For the cake:
1 ¾ cup cake flour 2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground ginger
1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
¼ cup coconut oil, melted and cooled
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
3 eggs at room temperature
¼ cup strongly brewed chamomile tea
¼ cup honey
Zest of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon lemon juice
For the buttercream:
4 cups powdered sugar
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
1 to 2 tablespoons lavender extract
1 to 3 tablespoons heavy cream
For the white chocolate ganache:
12 ounces white chocolate, chopped
4 ounces heavy cream
Preheat oven to 330°. Prepare 2 round, 9-inch cake pans by greasing generously with butter. I used 3 round, 6-inch cake pans instead, and they measure and bake equally.
Add oil to half (4 ounces) of the buttermilk and set aside. In a small bowl lightly whisk eggs. Pour eggs, extract, lemon zest and lemon juice in the remaining 4 ounces of buttermilk. Stir chamomile tea into buttermilk-egg mixture.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, measure out flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ginger, nutmeg. Using the paddle attachment, mix dry ingredients on the lowest speed. Slowly add chunks of butter to the flour mixture. Mix on low speed until the batter resembles a coarse sand.
Add milk and oil mixture to stand mixer and increase to a medium speed for 2 minutes, scraping sides of bowl down to avoid lumps; the batter should be smooth. Slowly pour honey into batter and mix until incorporated.
Slowly add buttermilk and egg mixture to batter in 3 parts, scraping down the sides of bowl between each addition until batter is fully incorporated. The batter should be on the thicker side and not runny.
Fill cake pans ¾ full. Tap or gently drop cake pans on the counter a couple of times to avoid air bubbles from forming and to level out the pans.
Bake for 45 to 50 minutes. The cakes will be done when a toothpick in the center comes out clean with little to no crumbs. Allow cakes to cool for 10 minutes and when pans are cool to the touch. Flip cake pans over onto a cooling rack to release cakes from pans. Wrap cakes in plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator for 1 hour before adding a crumb coat and ganache filling.
While the cake is chilling, make the buttercream. In the bowl of a stand mixer using a paddle attachment, cream butter until it is completely smooth, about 2 to 3 minutes. Slowly add powdered sugar, mixing on low until fully combined. Add salt and mix on low. Switch from paddle attachment to whisk attachment. On low speed, slowly add in the heavy cream until a smooth consistency begins to form. Add in vanilla extract. Add in lavender extract. Increase to medium speed, whipping slowly until buttercream begins to form and bring it to a high speed, whipping for about 1 to 2 minutes. Bring the speed down to low for 1 more minute to remove any air bubbles.
Make the white chocolate ganache. In a double boiler, bring heavy cream to a simmer. Once heated through, slowly pour heavy cream over bowl of chopped white chocolate. Allow cream and chocolate to rest for 2 minutes. Slowly whisk together until the chocolate is blended fully with the cream and is completely smooth. Allow it to cool to room temperature before adding it to the cake as filling.
To assemble the cake:
Using a spatula, spread about 1 teaspoon of buttercream on the center of the cake board, platter, or cake stand before placing the first layer of cake. This helps to keep the cake in place while applying buttercream. After placing the cake down, apply a generous layer of lavender cream on top. Spread evenly using an offset spatula or fill a piping bag and evenly fill layer on top of cake. On top of buttercream, evenly spread a layer of white chocolate ganache. Place the second cake on top. Apply a crumb coat to the cake and refrigerate for about 15 minutes. Remove cake from refrigerator and add remaining layer(s) of buttercream. Decorate to your preference, slice, and enjoy!