Let me just start off by saying, I hate flowers.  I threw out every bouquet of roses I received for dance recitals, I threw every corsage off my wrist right after prom pictures were taken, and my garden at my parents' house only consists of fruits and vegetables...except for one. There is seriously only one flower in my backyard, and that's a hydrangea. So a hydrangea cake was the perfect match for me.  

Alexandra Tringali

Hydrangeas have always been my favorite flowers from when I was a kid, and I always look forward to coming home in the summertime to see them blossoming all around my house.  I mean look at them!

Alexandra Tringali

So when my mom sent me this tutorial for mini hydrangea cakes, I knew I had to make them.  But as usual, I had to put my own twist on the cake and the frosting.  Below you'll find the recipe for a hibiscus lemon cake with an orange buttercream filling and frosting, and vanilla buttercream hydrangeas.

The cake is just a basic lemon cake with about 1/3 of a cup of hibiscus powder, or pulverized dried hibiscus flowers.  I put whole dried hibiscus flowers in a spice grinder so my cake came out a dark purple.  If you buy the powder it might come out more pink.

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Hibiscus Lemon Cake

  • Prep Time:20 mins
  • Cook Time:27 mins
  • Total Time:47 mins
  • Servings:8
  • Medium


  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp vanilla
  • 1 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup hibiscus powder
  • 1.5 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • Juice and zest from 2 lemons
  • 1 cup buttermilk
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  • Step 1

    Preheat oven to 350º F and line the bottom of two 8" round cake pans with a parchment circle. Butter the parchment (both sides) and the pans well.

  • Step 2

    Combine all dry ingredients and set aside.

  • Step 3

    Using an electric beater, combine the eggs, oil, sugar, and vanilla until thoroughly combined and well aerated, about 5 minutes.

  • Step 4

    Add dry ingredients slowly and mix until combined.

  • Step 5

    Beat in lemon juice and zest, and buttermilk.

  • Step 6

    Evenly distribute between the two cake pans, and bake for 25 to 27 minutes. Let cool for at least 15 minutes in the pan before turning out onto two wire cooling racks.

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    Alexandra Tringali

Let the cakes sit on a wire cooling rack until they cool completely.  If you don't, the frosting will melt and your cakes will slide.

Buttercream Frosting

  • Prep Time:10 mins
  • Cook Time:15 mins
  • Total Time:25 mins
  • Servings:1
  • Easy


  • 3 sticks softened butter
  • 3 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 8 cups powdered sugar
  • 2-3 tbsp milk
  • Juice from half an orange
  • Zest from a whole orange
  • Cake dye your choice
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Alexandra Tringali
  • Step 1

    Beat butter using either a hand mixer or a stand mixer until extremely light and airy, at least 8 minutes. Butter has to be at room temperature.

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    Alexandra Tringali
  • Step 2

    Add the vanilla and salt, and continue to beat until combined. Beat in powder sugar one cup at a time. Add the milk slowly until the frosting is fluffy, yet firm enough to pipe.

  • Step 3

    Remove 3/4 of the frosting from the mixing bowl and divide it between three smaller bowls. With the remaining 1/4 of the frosting, beat in orange juice and zest.

  • Step 4

    Once the cakes have cooled completely, move them to a circular cake board and then a cake stand. Evenly coat the top of one with a half of the orange frosting before layering the second cake on top.

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  • Step 5

    Take the rest of the orange frosting and dollop it on top of the cake and evenly coat the whole cake in a thin layer. (This is called a crumb coating; it prevents the cake from falling apart or flaking off when you decorate it.) Put the whole cake stand with cake in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes.

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  • Step 6

    Choose different food colorings and dye two of your bowls of frosting. Leave one white.

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  • Step 7

    Lay three sheets of plastic wrap flat on a surface and begin layering the buttercream frosting. Lay one color down, (light blue for reference) then a second, (dark blue) and then your final color. Change the order around for each plastic wrap.

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  • Step 8

    Roll the frosting in half and seal it. Cut off one tip and place it in a piping bag with a star tip on the end. Do it for all three. You're ready to begin piping!

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The Finished Product

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#SpoonTip: Decorating this cake makes a really cool time lapse video:

This cake looks much more challenging than it actually is...I promise it isn't difficult!  It's incredibly fun to make and allows you to add your own creative flair to it. I can't wait to make this again.