One thing that both amazes and saddens me is what I perceive as the average person’s inability to think outside the box, at least where cake is concerned. I realize this is a matter of incredible unimportance, but as someone who bakes a lot of cakes, this is something I think about a fair amount. When I am taking a cake request or order, I let people know that if they can imagine it as a cake flavor, chances are very good that I can make it happen. However, people tend to stick to what they know – the classics. Vanilla, chocolate, maybe they get a little wild with lemon or red velvet but it’s rare to get a unique flavor request. My kids, however, are a definite exception to this rule. They come up with some very interesting requests for sure! This is in large part thanks to the excellent example set by unique and innovative chefs and food makers such as Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, who always provide great inspiration! Our collective love for Jeni’s was bolstered by a trip to a scoop shop a few months ago, where Caroline discovered her current reigning favorite flavor – wild berry lavender. When I asked her what flavor of birthday cake she wanted, she didn’t hesitate. Wild berry lavender it would be.

Luckily, I had some black raspberries that I picked last summer stored in the freezer, so I used half of those and half blueberries. If you can’t find black raspberries (which you likely cannot, unless you pick them yourself), just use a mix of regular raspberries and blueberries here. Just like the ice cream that inspired it, I wanted this cake to have a nice balance between the berry and lavender flavors. The layers include a berry lavender vanilla cake, a mixed berry lavender sauce, and a raspberry curd. The whole thing is topped off with fresh whipped cream and I garnished mine with some freeze dried raspberry dust and a few extra black raspberries.

Now listen, you guys may start getting sick of me always using the Milk Bar method for my layer cakes these days but I am convinced this is the best method ever. I love the convenience of baking a single cake in a quarter sheet pan and using a cutter to make the rounds. I love the exposed layers and the flat sides that the acetate strips provide. But most of all, I love that the cake is just the right size. Unless I’m feeding a huge crowd, an 8-inch triple layer cake or a 9-inch double layer cake is simply way more cake than we need. If you haven’t tried the Milk Bar cake method yet, give it a try! I was a little skeptical initially but clearly, I have been converted. You might just end up loving it too.

  • Yield 1 6-inch triple layer cake


For the cake:

  • 240 grams (2 cups) cake flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 264 grams (1 1/3 cups) sugar
  • 1½ tsp. finely ground culinary lavender buds
  • 1 vanilla bean, split
  • 146 grams (10 1/3 tbsp.) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3 large eggs plus 1 egg yolk, at room temperature
  • 182 grams (¾ cup plus 1 tbsp.) buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 255 grams (1½ cups) fresh blueberries
  • 180 grams (1½ cups) fresh black or red raspberries

For the sauce:

  • 255 grams (1½ cups) fresh blueberries
  • 180 grams (1½ cups) black or red raspberries
  • 74 grams (6 tbsp.) sugar
  • 1 tsp. ground culinary lavender buds
  • 2¼ tsp. cornstarch
  • 27 grams (2 tbsp.) water
  • 14 grams (1 tbsp.) freshly squeezed lemon juice

For the curd:

  • 100 grams (½ cup) raspberry puree (black or red)
  • 65 grams (1/3 cup) granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp. water
  • ½ tsp. powdered gelatin
  • 170 grams (12 tbsp.) butter, very cold
  • 2 grams (½ tsp.) kosher salt

To finish:

  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 2 tbsp. confectioners’ sugar
  • Splash of vanilla extract
  • Freeze dried raspberries, ground (optional)
  • Additional fresh berries (optional)


  • 01

    To make the cake, preheat the oven to 350° F. Butter and flour the edges of a quarter sheet pan. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the cake flour, baking powder and salt.  Whisk together and set aside.  Place the sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Add the lavender and the seeds scraped from the vanilla bean to the bowl of the mixer with the sugar. Mix 1-2 minutes, until the sugar is fragrant. Add in the butter. Beat on medium-high speed for 3 minutes, until light and creamy in color, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Mix in the eggs and egg yolk one at a time until incorporated.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl after each addition.  Combine the buttermilk and the vanilla extract in a liquid measuring cup.  With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients alternately with the wet ingredients, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients and mixing just until incorporated.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix for 15 seconds longer. Gently fold the berries into the batter. Spread the batter in an even layer in the prepared baking pan.  Bake until golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 32-36 minutes, rotating halfway through baking.  Let cool in the pan on a wire rack.

  • 02

    Combine the blueberries, raspberries, sugar and lavender in a nonreactive saucepan over medium-high heat.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until the berries begin to release their juices.  In a small bowl combine the cornstarch with the water and lemon juice and whisk until smooth.  Stir the cornstarch mixture into the blueberry mixture.  Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 1 minute more.  Remove from the heat.  Cover and chill.

  • 03

    To make the curd, put the raspberry puree in a blender with the sugar and blend until the sugar granules have dissolved. Add the eggs and blend on low until incorporated. Transfer the contents of the blender to a medium pot or saucepan, and clean out the blender canister. Place the water in a small bowl and sprinkle the gelatin evenly over the top to bloom the gelatin. In the saucepan, heat the raspberry mixture over low heat, whisking often. It will begin to thicken as it heats up. Once it boils, remove it from the heat and transfer to the clean blender canister. Add in the bloomed gelatin, butter, and salt, and blend until the mixture is thick, shiny and very smooth. Transfer to a heatproof container, cover and refrigerate until completely cool, at least 1 hour.

  • 04

    To assemble the cake, invert the cake from the sheet pan onto a work surface. Use a 6-inch cake ring to cut out 2 circles from the cake (these will be the top two layers.) Wipe off the cake ring and place it in the center of a sheet pan lined with clean parchment or a silpat. Use a strip of acetate to line the inside of the cake ring. Use scraps from the leftover cake to place in the ring and tamp together in a flat, even layer. Spread a heaping ½ cup of the berry sauce over the cake. Spread half of the raspberry curd over the top of the berry sauce gently, into an even layer. Gently tuck a second strip of acetate between the cake ring and the top ¼-inch of the first strip of acetate. Set a cake round on top of the curd, and repeat the layering process once more (heaping ½ cup of berry sauce, remaining half of the curd.) Place the remaining cake layer onto top of the curd. Use a mixer with the whisk attachment or an immersion blender to whip the heavy cream with the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla until medium-stiff peaks form. Spread a final heaping ½ cup of berry sauce followed by the whipped cream in an even layer over the top. Garnish as desired.

  • 05

    Transfer the assembled cake to the freezer and freeze for a minimum of 6 hours to set the cake and the filling. At least 3 hours before you are ready to serve, remove the pan from the freezer, pop the cake out of the cake ring, and peel away the acetate layers. Transfer to a cake platter and defrost for at least 3 hours before slicing and serving.