If you asked me what my favorite dessert flavor is, I would have to say lemon. I absolutely adore lemon desserts, especially lemon cakes. Hand me a lemon poppy seed muffin and I won't be able to resist. With the citrus season in full swing, I decided to take advantage and prepare the ultimate lemon poppy seed cake, with a slight twist. Help yourself to a slice of this lemon poppy seed lavender chocolate cake and your day will be a bit brighter.
Lemon Poppy Seed Lavender Chocolate Cake
Lemon poppy seed cake
- 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour (370 grams)
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ¾ cup butter, softened at room temperature (170 grams)
- 1 ½ cups granulated sugar (300 grams)
- 4 large eggs
- ½ cup lemon juice (125 ml)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- ¼ cup olive oil (62 ml)
- 1 cup buttermilk (250 ml)
- 2 tablespoons lemon zest
- 2 tablespoons poppy seeds
Chocolate lavender ganache
- 1 cup heavy cream (250 ml)
- 2 ½ teaspoons finely ground lavender
- 9.5 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips
Lemon cream cheese frosting
- 6 ounces cream cheese, softened at room temperature
- ¼ cup butter, softened at room temperature
- 1 ¾ cup powdered sugar (228 grams)
- 1 ½ teaspoons lemon juice
- candied lemon rind for garnish optional
- extra poppy seeds for garnish optional
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9x9 inch baking pan with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray.
- Combine flour with baking powder, salt, and baking soda. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine butter and sugar and beat together until light and fluffy, about 5-6 minutes.
- Add eggs one at a time, fully incorporating the egg before adding another. Add lemon juice, vanilla, and oil, stirring until combined.
- Add half of flour mixture, stirring just until combined. Add buttermilk then the remaining flour mixture, stirring just until combined. Stir in lemon zest and poppy seeds. Pour cake batter into prepared pan and bake for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove cake from oven and let cool completely on wire rack.
- Make chocolate lavender ganache. Heat heavy cream with lavender over medium heat just until it starts to simmer. Remove from heat and add chocolate, stirring until melted. Let cool slightly for 10 minutes.
- Cut cake into three even layers. Spread half of ganache evenly on bottom cake layer, then place a cake layer on top. Spread remaining ganache and place top cake layer on top, gently pressing down.
- Make lemon cream cheese frosting. Beat together cream cheese with butter until light and fluffy. Add powdered sugar and beat until well combined. Add lemon juice and beat until well combined. Spread frosting on the top cake layer and sprinkle poppy seeds on top. Garnish with candied lemon rind if desired. Slice into 10 bars and serve.
**Helpful tips and common mistakes
As much as I would love to take credit for this beautiful cake, I owe it all to Dandelion Chocolate in San Francisco. I had the pleasure of trying their desserts last year and fell in love with their lemon poppy seed chocolate cake. The chocolate ganache twist left such an impression on me that I had to recreate it. I added lavender to the mix but the idea is basically the same as theirs.
The lemon poppy seed cake is pretty much a standard cake recipe. Start by creaming together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Take your time with this step because it's what helps create a lighter cake.
Add the eggs one at a time, fully incorporating them before adding the next. Then, add the lemon juice, vanilla, and olive oil until well combined. Half a cup of lemon juice seems like a lot but I found it to be the perfect amount of tang.
Add the dry ingredients in batches, alternating with the buttermilk.
Finally, fold in the lemon zest and poppy seeds and pour the cake into the prepared baking pan. If you don't have a 9x9 inch pan, you can use an 8x8. Just keep in mind that the cake will be thicker and will need longer to bake in the oven.
Pop the lemon poppy seed cake in the oven and bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Let the cake cool completely, then slice it into three layers. I'm terrible at slicing cakes so I first cut it in half, then cut each half into three layers. We're going to cut the cake into bars so it's fine to cut it in half first.
To make the chocolate lavender ganache, first, infuse heavy cream with finely ground lavender. I used a coffee grinder to grind the plant; the last thing you want is to bite into a chunk of lavender.
Remove the infused cream from the heat and stir in the chocolate until it melts. Let it cool slightly, then spread the ganache on the 2 bottom cake layers. Stack the cake and gently press down on the layers. You may have extra lavender chocolate ganache left over.
Next, prepare the cream cheese frosting. Because a lemon poppy seed chocolate lavender cake wouldn't be complete without cream cheese frosting!
Spread the frosting evenly on top and sprinkle extra poppy seeds on top. You may also have extra frosting left over.
If you want to go the full mile, make candied lemon rind and garnish the cake. Slice into bars and enjoy your work of art!
Yes, this lemon poppy seed chocolate lavender cake is decadent. But it's worth every calorie. And definitely worth all the effort.
For more lemon dessert inspiration check out this meyer lemon fritters!