Lavender Honey Cake Recipe (Paleo, Gluten Free, Refined Sugar Free)
I was lucky enough to spend last week in beautiful, seaside Carmel with my boyfriend Z’s family (healthy travel guide for the California coast coming soon!), and, on our first night there, it was Z’s sister’s 40th birthday – and Z and I were in charge of the party.
Right away, we knew one thing: it needed to be as childlike as possible. We hunted down a dinosaur-shaped piñata and stuffed it with the candies I haven’t eaten since my last trick-or-treating excursion. We draped streamers from every conceivable surface, and scattered party hats and Kanye-esque plastic glasses about the living room. There was only one thing left: the cake.
I knew I wanted the cake to be elegant, to counteract the if-Barney-came-to-life-and-vomited-green-and-purple-everywhere vibe of the rest of the room. I wanted to use beautiful, creative flavors that felt sophisticated but also accessible to the birthday girl’s three children under age 10. But it wasn’t till later, when we took a trip to the nearby Earthbound Farms that I found my inspiration. As we strolled through the herb garden, carefully trying not to disturb the bees as we snipped our choice plants, I found myself in a sea of fragrant, faintly sweet, calming lavender.
The Lavender Honey cake was born.
This cake is amazing, you guys. It’s refined sugar free (sweetened with coconut sugar and honey!), and grain free (made with coconut flour and almond flour!) but it still has a light and fluffy texture. I’ve never been able to find a natural food dye that’s effective, so I created my own solution to turn the cake a gorgeous purple. The frosting uses cashews and honey to create a beautiful whipped buttercream. The vast majority of people at the party could’ve cared less about eating healthy or grain free, and they gobbled the cake up in seconds (the children included!).
The base of the cake is the Vanilla Cake Mix, from Simple Mills. Simple Mills is one of my absolute favorite companies – they have a number of mixes that use under ten whole foods ingredients to make beautiful baked goods, from pizza to cake to foccacia and muffins. I’ve had amazing results with everything of theirs that I’ve tried – the textures and flavors are truly out of this world. Blending dried lavender directly into the mix allows that lovely fragrant flavor to truly permeate every delicious bite.
To get the cake’s gorgeous purple color, I used blackberry juice (!!), made my simmering frozen blackberries and then straining them, resulting in an inky, wine-like liquid. You can’t taste it at all in the cake, but it gives the mix a beautiful lavender color, that bakes up into a slightly darker purple.
If you’re interested in a stacked cake, like the one in these photos, you’ll need four 6″ cake pans, or a stacking cake set like this one (which I used). One cake recipe is divided into the four pans to make four small cakes, which are then stacked for an awesome, rustic-chic look that I love. This recipe would also work as a typical larger cake, or as cupcakes.
- 1 box Simple Mills Vanilla Cake Mix
- 1 tbsp dried culinary lavender (available in the spice section at most supermarkets)
- 3 eggs
- 1/3 cup oil (I used avocado)
- 1/3 cup water
- 1 tbsp vanilla
- 1 cup frozen blackberries (optional, if you wish to dye the cake purple)
- 1 3/4 cups raw cashews, soaked for at least 1 hour and drained
- 1 tbsp coconut oil
- 1/3 cup honey
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Juice of 1 lemon (preferably Meyer, but normal works fine)
- Sea salt
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- If you're dying the cake, make the dye first. In a small saucepan or the microwave, heat blackberries with a few tablespoons of water until warm and beginning to fall apart. Blend up, then strain through a fine mesh strainer or nut milk bag to remove seeds and pulp. Set aside.
- In a blender or food processor, blend together the cake mix and the lavender on high, until lavender is well distributed with dry mix. In a separate bowl, beat together eggs, oil, and vanilla until well-combined. If you'd like to dye the cake, replace the 1/3 cup of water with 1/3 cup of your blackberry juice; add water or blackberry juice to wet ingredients and stir until well combined. Mix together wet and dry ingredients, then pour into greased pan of choice and bake. My 6" cakes took about 15 minutes to cook (way less than a larger cake, so watch closely). When a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and the edges begin to pull away from the pan, remove from oven and transfer immediately to wire cooling rack. Stick them in the freezer to cool while you make the frosting (this helps avoid any crumbs when you're spreading the frosting later).
- For the frosting, add all ingredients to a food processor and process until creamy, scraping down the sides as necessary. Add more honey if you prefer a sweeter taste. You can also add water, 1 tablespoon at a time, to thin the frosting until you get your desired texture.
- Spread frosting on cake, layering upwards. Garnish with lavender, roses, or any edible flowers you desire.