It’s high summer time, which means berry season! In the PNW, blackberries are an invasive species, but they’ve grown quite abundant in the lowlands. Kids and adults alike revel in picking the plumpest, ripest berries off the prickly plants. These wild-growing blackberries are worth the effort to pick! Sweet from the summer sun and filled with the freshest flavor, if you can find some in your backyard (or even the grocery store), you’ve gotta make this delicious Blackberry Lavender Cake! (We also happen to grow lavender in our backyard too)
The combination of blackberries and lavender is remarkable. The fresh summer burst of the fruit intermingled with warmth and mellow herb is like yin and yang. Both awakened and calmed by a singular dessert. What more do you want when you’re sitting outside enjoying the nice sunshine or inside to avoid the beating heat?
This cake is super super simple to make and an easy crowd pleaser! The blackberry cake is reminiscent of a good ‘ole vanilla cake with the perfectly sweet frosting (but not too sweet), balancing the fruitiness of the blackberries in the cake and the refreshing lavender in the frosting. It’s light and moist as a result of creaming the eggs and using sour cream without the mess of having to beat anything to stiff peaks. What could be easier than just mixing everything together? And, as a naked cake, you can’t go wrong with frosting it – any imperfections add to the rustic nature of this cake. Even the red-purple color of blackberries swirling through the cake gives it the perfect character of rustic and homemade but classy all at the same time.
Trust me, this cake is so good, it’s gonna disappear from the table in minutes! Well, depending on how many people are eating it. Truly dangerous to make this cake cause it’s that amazing, but I dare you to try!
A note on picking blackberries:
In the PNW, blackberries tend to ripen early-mid August and are in fruition through September. They grow on vines but sometimes can grow into large bushes that are so tall, you can’t even pick the fruit without a ladder. The blackberry fruit starts growing as small green berries after the pink or white flowers have bloomed. They’ll then turn red and finally black.
How do you know it’s ready to be picked?
The ripest berries can be found both by how it looks and how it feels. Generally the first berries to ripen are at the end of the cluster and sometimes they are the only berries that are black and the surrounding ones are still green. When you look for the ripest berries, they should be deep black in color and very plump in shape. This is easiest to see when you can compare that each pulp is larger than the unripe berries. When you remove the berries, they should come off easily without any tugging. They’ll also feel squishier. If the berries are firm, they will most definitely be sour. The softest berries are perfect for mashing in this cake. And of course, learning what is sweetest improves with practice, so go pick some berries and try it out!
Blackberry Lavender Cake
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup sour cream
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 1 cup milk
- 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 2 1/2 cup all purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 cup blackberries, mashed and divided (1/2 cup once mashed)
- 1/2 Tbsp lavender flowers
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 2 Tbsp milk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- Cake: Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Grease 2 - 8" cake pans.
- In a large bowl, cream together the eggs and sugar, whisking until combined and the mixture is a pale yellow.
- Add the rest of the wet ingredients (sour cream, lemon juice, milk, vanilla, oil) and mix well.
- In a separate bowl, sift the dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt).
- Fold in the flour mixture into the wet egg mixture.
- Gently add half the blackberries to the mixture, stir once. Divide the batter into the two cake pans and spread out the batter so it fills the pans evenly. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 5 min in the pan before inverting to a cooling rack. Let it sit until it reaches room temperature.
- Frosting: Meanwhile, in a small pot, toast the lavender flowers on medium heat for a minute to draw out the fragrance. Add the butter to the pot and continue simmering and stirring on low heat for 5 minutes after butter has melted. Remove pot from stove.
- Whisk in the milk and vanilla. Add 1/2 cup of powdered sugar at a time, whisking until well combined. As the frosting cools to room temperature, keep whisking so it cools evenly.
- Assembly: Once frosting and cake have cooled, start with one layer of cake on the bottom. Using half the frosting, frost the top of the first layer. Add the reserved blackberries. Place the second cake layer on top. Frost again using the remaining frosting. Add fresh blackerries and lavender to garnish, as desired.
- You can use soy milk or any other alternative for all instances of milk here.
- Makes sure you find culinary lavender (like the English lavender varieties, or anything found in the food aisles)
- Frosting tips: continually mix the frosting as it cools every couple minutes so the water and fat don't separate. If the frosting is getting too thick, add 1 tsp of milk to loosen it, and if too thin, add a Tbsp of powdered sugar to thicken. Play around a little at a time until at room temperature, the frosting is just spreadable.
Did you make this recipe?
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