Fresh Spring Lilac Lemon cake

This moist Fresh Spring Lilac Lemon Cake Recipe is fluffy, tangy and so easy to make from scratch! Extremely seasonal and limited edition, every bite is cherished. This supremely flavorful cake is bursting with floral and zesty lemon flavor and the easy optional buttercream topping will have you swooning after just one bite.

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Lilacs are one of my favourite flowers. Lilacs can provide gorgeous color and sweet floral fragrance from April through June. I wish I could authentically bottle up the scent of lilac petals and enjoy them all year long. The flowers are oil-free, making their essence impossible to distill. So how does one capture their fleeting ethereal scent? While we haven't figured this out yet, we do preserve the blooms in flavor to be in enjoyed in tea or lemonade via: lilac honey, lilac sugar, and lilac syrup. You can also enjoy lilacs in our Lilac Shortbread Cookies and Lilac Ice cream.

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Ever since we moved abroad to Tunisia and then Oman, I haven't seen lilacs in bloom. This year, I planted my own from seeds in my click and grow. I started late, but I hope to enjoy their beauty more often. I wonder if I'm the first person to enjoy freshly bloomed lilac in Oman. I grow it and keep it inside of my home as it's not native to this region.

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It will be a very happy day in the future when I can walk into my backyard have a basket full of fresh lilacs while I enjoy a bite of this cake with fresh lilac icing, when that time comes I'll know I'm home.

Are lilacs edible?

Lilacs are totally edible, part of the olive family. And we have some favorite ways to enjoy them. If you have the opportunity, spend a very beautiful day hand-plucking each individual flower off their stem and soak them in a bath of cream to let the flowers infuse into a floral milk for the cake and buttercream. The precious liquid can then be turned into creamy and dreamy lattes, buttercreams and lilac ice cream. Or infused into a floral sugar, like lilac brown sugar. Or preserved in a raw local honey, like in this lilac honey recipe.

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Identifying and harvesting lilac:

Lilac has glossy, heart-shaped leaves, smooth bark. It displays spikes of densely packed, small, pale flowers that have a sweet smell. (Source) You want to be using lilacs grown organically. Read my post on the best edible flowers to grow in your garden. If it's grown on your property and hasn't been sprayed with pesticides, it's safe to use. Avoid lilac that you're uncertain about, or purchased from the grocery store. Read all about Where to buy or find edible flowers for cookies and cakes to learn about best practices for sourcing flowers you'll use in food.

How to source lilac:

You want to be using lilacs grown organically. Read my post on the best edible flowers to grow in your garden. If it's grown on your property and hasn't been sprayed with pesticides, it's safe to use. Avoid lilac that you're uncertain about, or purchased from the grocery store. Read all about Where to buy or find edible flowers for cookies and cakes to learn about best practices for sourcing flowers you'll use in food.

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Ingredients:

Lilac cake:

  • ¾ cup (184 grams) buttermilk or heavy cream
  • 6 tablespoons (85 grams) butter, softened to room temperature 
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups (240 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
  • ⅓ cup freshly picked lilac petals*
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • zest and juice from two lemons
  • ½ teaspoon salt

To prepare lilac petals for your cake: remove the small white or purple petals from the small green sepals that hold them to the branch. Let them sit overnight.

Lilac Buttercream:

  • 1 cup (230g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 4 – 5 cups (480-600g) confectioners sugar
  • ¼ cup (60ml) milk or heavy cream at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • ⅓ cup fresh lilac petals
  • Salt to taste

Instructions:

Cake:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (176 C) . Spray with cooking spray or butter and flour a 9×5 inch loaf pan and add parchment paper, leaving some on each side for easy removal of your cake.
  • Make lilac infused milk by combining your buttermilk or heavy cream with your fresh lilac in a small saucepan over low heat for ten minutes. Turn off heat and let it cool as you continue on with next steps. 
  • Cream the butter and sugar together with an electric mixer or stand mixer. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until the batter is light and fluffy; stir in the lemon zest, juice, and vanilla extract. 
  • In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add to the creamed butter sugar mixture alternately with the lilac cream until well blended and pour the batter into the prepared pan. 
  • Bake for 45-50 minutes or until a tester inserted in the middle comes out mostly clean. Let cool in the pan a few minutes before transferring to a rack to cool.

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Buttercream:

  • Make lilac infused milk by combining your milk or heavy cream with your fresh lilac in a small saucepan over low heat for ten minutes. Turn off heat and let it cool as you continue on with next steps. 
  • Beat your butter with a hand mixer. Make sure your butter is softened to room temperature or you won't get the smooth and creamy texture you need for this rose frosting.
  • Slowly sift in your powdered sugar, mixing with your mixer, adding in a little bit of your lilac cream as needed to help mix it and smooth it.
  • Add vanilla extract and remaining cream to your buttercream. Beat on low speed until these ingredients are all well incorporated, then bump up the mixer to medium-high speed. At this point, check the frosting consistency, you can add more confectioners’ sugar if the frosting is too thin or a splash of heavy cream if it’s too thick.
  • Taste and salt. Add a pinch of salt to offset the sweetness.

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overhead shot of pound cake with fresh white creamy buttercream topped with dainty white lilac flowers on top of a vintage green plate

Fresh Spring Lilac Lemon cake

5 from 6 votes
This moist Fresh Spring Lilac Lemon Cake Recipe is fluffy, tangy and so easy to make from scratch! Extremely seasonal and limited edition, every bite is cherished. This supremely flavorful cake is bursting with floral and zesty lemon flavor and the easy optional buttercream topping will have you swooning after just one bite.
Print Recipe
Prep Time:15 minutes
Cook Time:45 minutes
Additional Time:30 minutes
Total Time:1 hour 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • Lilac cake:
  • ¾ cup 184 grams buttermilk or heavy cream
  • 6 tablespoons 85 grams butter, softened to room temperature
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups 240 grams all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup 200 grams granulated sugar
  • cup freshly picked lilac petals*
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • zest and juice from two lemons
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • To prepare lilac petals for your cake: remove the small white or purple petals from the small green sepals that hold them to the branch. Let them sit overnight.
  • Lilac Buttercream:
  • 1 cup 230g unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 4 – 5 cups 480-600g confectioners sugar
  • ¼ cup 60ml milk or heavy cream at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • cup fresh lilac petals
  • Salt to taste

Instructions

Lilac cake:

  • ¾ cup (184 grams) buttermilk or heavy cream
  • 6 tablespoons (85 grams) butter, softened to room temperature 
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups (240 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
  • ⅓ cup freshly picked lilac petals*
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • zest and juice from two lemons
  • ½ teaspoon salt

    To prepare lilac petals for your cake: remove the small white or purple petals from the small green sepals that hold them to the branch. Let them sit overnight.

Lilac Buttercream:

  • 1 cup (230g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 4 – 5 cups (480-600g) confectioners sugar
  • ¼ cup (60ml) milk or heavy cream at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • ⅓ cup fresh lilac petals
  • Salt to taste

Notes

How do I store the cake after it's baked?

Wrap the pound cake with plastic wrap or beeswax wrap tightly to prevent any air coming in. This will keep it nice and moist for days. You can also store in in an airtight container, ideally also after wrapping it with wax or plastic wrap. Do not store at room temperature if you've assembled it with buttercream.

Can I freeze this cake?

Yes, freeze the cake with or without the buttercream. To thaw, remove it from the freezer and leave it at room temperature for one day.
Course: Cake & cupcakes
Cuisine: American
Keyword: lilac cake, lilac dessert, lilac recipes
Servings: 14 slices
Author: All recipes by Sarah Buckley

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