Butterfly Pea Lemon Cake

I’m back home in Hawaii for the holidays and so excited to start baking more (in a full size kitchen with a stand mixer, hehe). Since leaving, my mom has started a new garden in our yard, meaning there’s a lot of fresh produce to use!

One of the things she decided to grow are butterfly pea flowers. Butterfly pea flowers are normally used as an herbal tea and are commonly found in Southeast Asia. They create a vibrant blue color, that will change to a beautiful purple when acidity (like lemon) is added. I used the flowers as a natural dye for the whipped cream frosting on this cake. Half of the whipped cream was flavored with lemon juice and zest, which gave me two different colors to play with.

The cake itself is a fluffy and soft coconut cake that comes from one of my grandmother’s recipes. It doesn’t have a strong coconut flavor but the coconut milk moistens the cake and gives it the perfect texture. I decided to compliment this cake with blueberries and blackberries (they fit the color scheme) for a deliciously light cake!

Butterfly Pea Lemon Cake

Light and fluffy coconut cake, topped with lemon whipped cream and colored with fresh butterfly pea flowers. Finish with some fresh berries!
Prep Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 10 minutes
Course Dessert
Servings 1 2-tier cake


For the coconut cake:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 cups cake flour
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 4 egg whites

For the whipped cream:

  • 4 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1 cup butterfly pea flowers
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tbsp lemon zest
  • 4 tbsp lemon juice
  • blueberries and blackberries, optional


Prepare the heavy whipping cream:

  • The night before, add heavy whipping cream and butterfly pea flowers to an airtight container. Mix well. Allow to steep overnight for at least 8 hours.

Make the coconut cake:

  • Preheat oven to 325° F. Grease two 8" circular cake pans. Line the bottom with parchment paper.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar together. Add egg yolks and mix well. Add vanilla and lemon juice. Mix again.
  • In a separate mixing bowl, sift cake flour, baking powder, and salt.
  • Alternatively add dry ingredients and coconut milk (dry ingredients, then coconut milk, then dry ingredients, etc.) to the creamed mixture.
  • In a separate mixing bowl, beat egg whites to stiff peaks. Fold into cake batter gently and thoroughly.
  • Pour cake batter into both cake pans, splitting them evenly. Use a spatula to gently level the top.
  • Bake for 40-45 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool in pans for 5-10 minutes. Turn out onto a wire rack and allow to cool completely.

Make the whipped cream:

  • Once heavy whipping cream has achieved the desired color, strain out the flowers. Press on the flowers to get as much cream as possible.
  • Halve the cream into two separate mixing bowls.
  • In one bowl, add lemon juice, lemon zest, and half of the powdered sugar. Adding the lemon will make the whipping cream turn purple! Beat with a hand mixer or stand mixer until stiff peaks form.
  • In the other bowl, add the other half of the powdered sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. Taste both whipped creams and adjust powdered sugar to taste.
  • Cover and refrigerate whipped cream until needed.

Assemble cake:

  • Spread a thin layer of whipped cream on top of the first layer of cake. Alternate whipped cream colors to get a swirled effect. Add a generous layer of blueberries and blackberries. Cover with another layer of whipped cream.
  • Place the second layer on top. Cover the outside with whipped cream, again, alternating between the two colors evenly. Decorate the top with leftover berries, butterfly pea flowers, shaved coconut, etc.
  • Refrigerate until serving. Enjoy!
Keyword blackberry, blueberry, butterflypea, cake, coconut, coconutcake, floral, lemon, whipped cream

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