I love everything about lavender, especially the flavor. It’s light and refreshing, earthy, aeromatic, and just downright delightful. So after buying some dried culinary lavender on a whim last week, I decided to try making the perfect lavender buttercream. I actually ended up with a lot more lavender than expected, so aside from perfecting this lavender buttercream recipe I’ve been planning to make all sorts of things with it: lavender simple syrup for my coffee and no churn lavender ice cream to name a few. But first, just look at this buttercream.
This lavender buttercream is perfectly flavored. In the past, I’ve used lavender extract to flavor buttercream and while it’s a fine way to add flavor, it’s really easy to go overboard with. I’ve also heard of grinding up the dried lavender to use as flavoring but that’s also easy to overdo. So instead, I decided to steep the lavender in simmered milk to extract the flavor. It ended up being really fun and also added the most stunning flavor to the buttercream. It’s just right!
What is Culinary Lavender?
If you want to cook or bake with lavender, you’re going to need culinary lavender. There are a few qualities that make lavender culinary:
- It’s the right cultivar, or variety, for flavoring edible things
- It’s harvested at just the right time
- It’s been processed for culinary use. This involves drying the lavender and sifting it multiple times so that only the buds remain.
I used this culinary lavender I found on Amazon, but you can sometimes find it at natural grocery food stores. It is worth looking for that culinary stamp of approval because using the wrong type of lavender can result in a bitter or soapy taste depending on the cultivar. If you want the flavor to be spot on, use the good stuff!
After making sure you’re using the right lavender, you’ll start this recipe by bringing the whole milk to a simmer, removing it from the heat, and stirring the lavender in. Then, you’ll let it steep for 15 minutes before straining the lavender out. What’s left is about three tablespoons of light purple lavender milk and it’ll be just the right ratio for flavoring the buttercream.
This lavender buttercream is perfect for using as a filling, frosting, or piping details. I recently paired it with my favorite lemon cake recipe and it was absolutely heavenly! Other ideas for flavor pairings: chocolate cake, vanilla cake, or strawberry cake. I especially want to try pairing lavender with strawberry next!
- 1/4 Cup whole milk
- 1 Tbsp dried culinary lavender
- 1 Cup (227g) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 3 1/2 Cups (420g) powdered sugar
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp salt, or to taste
- 2-4 drops purple food coloring* optional
- Add the whole milk into a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the milk begins to simmer. Remove from the heat and stir in the dried culinary lavender. Let the lavender steep in the milk for 15 minutes, then strain the milk through a fine mesh sieve set over a small bowl. Press all the excess milk out of the lavender buds before discarding them. Allow the lavender milk to cool completely before adding it to the buttercream.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (a hand mixer works fine too!) cream the butter on medium-high until it’s creamy and light in color, about 5 minutes.
- With the mixer on low speed, add the powdered sugar a few cups at a time, scraping down after each addition and making sure each cup is fully incorporated before adding the next one. Add the lavender milk, vanilla, salt, and food coloring (if using) and continue mixing on low speed until fully combined and smooth, scraping down the bowl and paddle as needed.
- The lavender milk (from Step 1 of the recipe) can be made 2-3 days ahead and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Bring it back to room temperature before adding it to the buttercream.
- The lavender buttercream can be made ahead and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. When you’re ready to use it, bring it back to room temperature and re-whip in your stand mixer to bring back to smooth buttercream consistency.
- Frost 12-15 cupcakes with a piping bag
- Fill and crumb coat a three-layer 6-inch cake or two-layer 8-inch cake. To have enough for frosting and decorating as well, double the recipe.
Did you make this lavender buttercream recipe? I want to know how it went! Let me know in the comments below and feel free to tag @sugarandsparrowco on Instagram to show me. I love to see what you create with my recipes!