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lemon poppy seed cake with Swiss buttercream frosting decorated with wild violets

Violet Lemon Poppy Seed Cake

  • Author: Kaity Farrell
  • Total Time: 1 hour 25 minutes
  • Yield: 8 servings 1x


Delicious moist and fluffy lemon poppy seed cake with Swiss buttercream frosting becomes a canvas for foraged and pressed wild violets to create a beautiful spring-inspired edible flower cake!




  • 113g (1/2 cup or 1 stick) softened butter *see notes for dairy-free alternatives
  • 198g (1 cup) wild violet sugar or granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 118 ml (1/2 cup) milk
  • 6g (1 teaspoon) apple cider vinegar
  • 9g lemon zest (from 2 lemons)
  • 4g (1 teaspoon) vanilla extract
  • 210g (1 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 2g (1/2 teaspoon) kosher salt
  • 4g (1 teaspoon) baking powder
  • 1g (1/4 teaspoon) baking soda
  • 37g (1/4 cup) poppy seeds

Swiss Buttercream:

  • 60g egg whites (from 2 large eggs) at room temperature
  • 100g (1/2 cup) granulated sugar
  • 1g (1/4 teaspoon) kosher salt
  • 226g (1 cup or 2 sticks) softened unsalted butter *see notes for dairy-free alternatives
  • 4g lemon zest (from 1 lemon)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 4g (1 teaspoon) vanilla extract

Cake Decorations:


  1. Pick wild violet flowers with stems and leaves the day before and press them between 2 pieces of parchment paper in a flower press or in books.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350˚F/175˚C. Grease two 6-inch cake pans or one 8-inch or 9-inch cake pan. Line the bottom of each pan with a parchment paper circle.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or with a hand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.
  4. Crack the eggs into a small bowl or measuring cup first before adding them to the butter-sugar mixture to avoid adding any eggshell fragments. Add the cracked eggs and beat them into the mixture for about 3-4 minutes.
  5. Mix in the milk, vinegar, lemon zest and vanilla for about 1 minute. The mixture will look curdled at this point.
  6. Add the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and poppy seeds and mix until just combined for about 30 seconds.
  7. Divide the batter evenly between the 2 pans and smooth it out with an offset spatula.
  8. Bake the cakes at 350˚F/175˚C for 30-35 minutes until golden brown and a cake tester inserted into the center of the cakes come out clean.
  9. Transfer the cakes to the cooling rack and allow them to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Then run a butter knife around the edges to loosen the cakes from the pans. Invert the cake pans onto the cooling rack and lift off the pans then peel away the parchment paper lining. Allow the cakes to cool completely before frosting them. Let them stay upside down on the cooling rack to help flatten out the tops if they are domed.
  10. To make the Swiss Buttercream frosting add the egg whites and sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk them together for a few seconds just to get them combined.
  11. Heat the mixture in a bain-marie (place the bowl over a pot of simmering water making sure that the bowl does not touch the water) whisking constantly until it reaches 160˚F.
  12. Remove the bowl from the bain-marie and whip the mixture on high speed in a stand mixer fitted with a balloon whisk until the mixture reaches glossy soft peaks, about 6-7 minutes.
  13. Add the salt and the softened butter in tablespoon-sized pieces one at a time while the mixer continues to run. The frosting may look runny but just keep adding all of the butter and it will become thick and fluffy.
  14. Once all of the butter has been added mix in the lemon zest, lemon juice, and vanilla extract until incorporated.
  15. Switch to a paddle attachment and mix on medium-low speed to remove air bubbles. The frosting should be thick and fluffy. Cover and refrigerate the frosting until the cake has cooled.
  16. If the cakes are domed trim the tops off with a long serrated knife to make them flat.
  17. To assemble the cake add a dab of the frosting to the cake plate or serving plate to hold the first layer in place. Spread about 1 cup of frosting onto the first layer.
  18. Stack the next layer of cake and spread a thin layer of the frosting over the sides and top of the cake for the crumb coat. Then refrigerate the cake and the remaining frosting for 30 minutes.
  19. Frost the side and top of the cake with the remaining frosting, smoothing it out with an offset spatula.
  20. Decorate the side of the cake with the pressed violet flowers and leaves by sticking them to the frosting. Use a toothpick to help place them so your fingers don’t smudge the frosting.
  21. Decorate the top of the cake with pressed violet flowers without stems in a pattern or randomly. Then sprinkle poppy seeds over the top of the cake.
  22. Serve at room temperature or refrigerate the cake to serve later so the flowers and leaves stay vibrant.


  • Use a vegan or plant butter alternative in equal amounts to replace the butter in the cake batter for a dairy-free cake. To make the Swiss buttercream dairy-free use a vegan or plant butter alternative to replace the butter, but you will only need half the amount of the butter, or 113g or 1 stick. It will make a little bit less frosting but will still be enough to frost the cake. I’m not sure of the science behind it but the frosting was thick after adding just 1 stick of the vegan butter during my recipe testing.
  • Violets bloom in the spring and can be found in pastures, meadows, and grassy areas. They are easily recognizable with dark green heart shapes leaves and dainty 5 petaled blue-purple flowers. There are also white violets with blue streaking and even yellow colored violets. When foraging for edible plants int he wild always consult guidebooks and references to be sure of the plant you are harvesting. Never consume wild plants that you can’t identify 100%.
  • Prep Time: 50 minutes
  • Cook Time: 35 minutes

Keywords: violet, lemon poppy seed cake, lemon, poppy seed, edible flower, foraging, wild violets, Swiss meringue, buttercream