The lilacs are just beginning to bloom here in northwest Montana. It's a lovely sight and smell and a welcome sign of the season's change. Those edible flowers are also permission to get creative in the kitchen. Those lovely blooms add a light floral flavor and beautiful decorative touch to cakes which is exactly how this lilac honey cake was born.
An elderly neighbor of mine took a fall during a hike, which has required surgery. She's left using a walker for the time being and well quite miserable. She loves the lilacs as much as I do, both for looking at and for eating. While I know a cake won't cure what ails her, I thought a lilac cake might just lift her spirits.
In looking for inspiration, I turned to my copy of Cake Stand by Quinn Veon. This lovely cookbook features recipes using produce from the garden or farmer's market. There wasn't a specific lilac cake but I knew I could adapt something to fit my specific needs. Which is one of the greatest things about Cake Stand – don't have kale for the chocolate kale cake, substitute spinach. No blueberries, try raspberries instead. Using the garden for dessert and sharing is always a splendid idea, in my opinion. I chose the Milk & Honey Cupcakes and made just a few modifications for my lilac honey cake.
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The milk & honey cupcakes recipe was obviously for cupcakes. I wanted to make a cake and figured I could just watch the baking time more closely. There is more sugar and honey in the original recipe. I cut both back figuring it would be more appropriate for my elderly neighbor's palate – had I been making these for someone different I would have left the original amounts. I added 1/2 cup of tightly packed lilac blossoms to the batter for flavor, the color mostly disappears in the cake itself during baking.
Frosting & Decorating
In Cake Stand, the cupcakes come with the suggestion of using the author's Sweet Honey Frosting. That frosting is delicious but requires cream cheese and I didn't have any around. I chose to go with a simple vanilla buttercream but most any frosting would be delicious, use your favorite. I only frosted the top for simplicity sake but frost the sides, too, if desired. For decorating, I simply sprinkled some lilac blossoms around the edge and love how it turned out.