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Lilac cake

Light and fluffy genoise layer cake filled with lilac-infused whipped cream, syrup and blueberries.

lilac ombre cake with on a glass cake stand with lilacs, and glasses of milk on a white farmhouse table

For years, I’ve wanted to make a lilac-flavoured syrup. The fragrant flowers are one of my favourite things about spring. I love how their perfume is propelled through the air by warm breezes, giving spring its distinct smell. Their short blooming season and pleasantly strong aroma always leave me wanting more. This year, I finally took the time to capture the lilac’s fleeting essence in a delicious syrup that you can add to your cocktails and/or cake batter.

The Génoise is a classic French cake. Its whisked eggs and sugar are its sole leavening agents that are held in place with pastry flour. Unlike most rich desserts, the absence of butter in this recipe will create something delicate and fluffy. This sponge cake is très ordinaire on its own, but it’s the perfect vessel for a lilac infusion as it will soak up the flavourful syrup like…well, a sponge!

Pro tip: You can always make your desserts tastier by simply increasing the ratio of its star ingredient. For this recipe, I recommend increasing the amount of lilac essence with frosting, which is also lilac-flavoured (I accomplished this by infusing fresh-cut lilacs in heavy cream for 24 hours). I added blueberries because of their juicy texture, but they also act as a natural colouring, giving the cake’s exterior a groovy ombre finish. I love the colour spectrum of lilac flowers, from creamy-white to rich amethyst, and I wanted to incorporate this beautiful range of purple tones onto my lilac cake!

Directions for lilac cake:

  1. Make the Lilac syrup recipe

  2. Make lilac infused heavy cream using the same method as the lilac syrup, substituting the simple syrup for 450ml of heavy cream.

  3. Thaw 500g of frozen blueberries

  4. Make vanilla genoise cake

Genoise layer cake recipe

150g eggs

40g egg yolk

125g sugar

5g vanilla extract

80g pastry flour

40g cornstarch

  1. Butter and flour two strait sided 6” molds (for a 4-layer cake), or one 8” mold (for a 3-layer cake).

  2. Whisk and sift the pastry flour and cornstarch together.

  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk eggs and sugar on medium-high until pale and fluffy.

  4. Reduce speed to medium-low for several minutes, until you are able to trace a figure 8 with the batter coming off the whisk and the pattern doesn’t disappear.

  5. Mix in the vanilla extract.

  6. Gently fold in the flour mix by hand using a marise, until just combined.

  7. Pour the batter into the prepared cake mold(s) and bake at 375°F for 18 minutes.

  8. Unmold when the cake is lukewarm.

  9. I like to make the cake the same day I prepare the infusions. So at this stage, I leave the cakes on the tray they were baked on and tightly wrap with plastic film.

  10. *Pro-tip: turn the cakes upside down. This will ensure that the top of your cake is perfectly flat with square edges.

Montage instructions for lilac cake

  1. Place thawed blueberries in a strainer, lightly press on them to release some of the juice and reserve the liquid for making coloured whipped cream.

  2. Strain the syrup through a fine-mesh sieve and press the lilac flowers to release all of the flavourful juices.

  3. Repeat the same process for the heavy cream, straining it over the bowl of a stand mixer.

  4. Add 35g of lilac syrup to the cream and whisk on high until whipped and firm.

  5. Cut cake into 2- or 3-layers (depending on the size of the cake mold you used- for 6” and 8”, respectively).

  6. Place 1st layer of cake on a cake stand or plate and brush on lilac syrup.

  7. Add a large dollop of lilac-whipped cream and spread to the edges.

  8. Evenly distribute one-third of the blueberries on the whipped cream.

  9. Place the 2nd layer of cake on top and gently press down while ensuring it is level.

  10. Repeat steps 7 through 9 with the remaining layers of cake.

  11. Put on a crumb coat: add a very thin layer of whipped cream to encase the cake and its crumbs.

  12. Put it in the fridge to set while you colour the remaining whipped cream.

  13. Separate the remaining whipped cream into three bowls.

  14. In one of the bowls whisk in a couple of drops of the strained blueberry juice to lightly colour it.

  15. Whisk in the juice to the other bowl to obtain a darker pastel colour.

  16. PIpe on the whipped cream, starting with the darker one on the bottom and finishing with the white on top.

  17. Using a strait cake spatula even out the frosting on top and on the sides.

  18. Let set in the fridge, preferably for a minimum of 6 hours to let the genoise cake fully sponge up the flavours and moisture.

Bon appétit!

lilac cake with blueberries served on a white farmhouse table with glasses of milk

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