Why not have your cake and eat it too? Enjoy your garden’s summer fragrance with this moist lavender cake.
I am *slightly* obsessed with edible flowers, which started during a gruelling internship in a three-Michelin star restaurant located in California. This kitchen was a stressful, high-pressure environment that can only be described as culinary boot camp. Luckily, once a week, I got to decompress by working in the kitchen garden. I loved my morning routine on those days: getting up at dawn to enjoy the cool, dry air while embarking on a pleasant commute down the state highway. I’ll never forget how the sunrise covered the Napa Valley vineyards in a striking golden hue. It was here that I first learned about basic biodynamic gardening principles, companion planting, and the joy of spending hours with fellow foodie-gardeners toiling in the soil. The garden was an extension of the test kitchen: a place for exploring new varietals and investigating all edible parts of the plants. The first time I bit into a daylily flower, I was stunned by how crunchy and sweet it was. Other pleasant surprises were the fresh seed pods and flowers from coriander, which were bright, complex, and citrusy, and paired magically with peach and coconut ice cream.
Today, I continue to explore edible flowers in my garden. In fact, the first thing I planted after we bought our home were lavender bushes. I planted a few varieties, but my favourite to cook with is Munstead, also named English lavender (or Lavandula Angustifolia). It’s best to harvest just before they bloom as its fragrant oils will be fully-developed and trapped inside the flower bud. However, as other gardeners can attest to, time often gets the better of me; other gardening tasks always seem more pressing. From experience, I’ve learned that lavender’s tender leaves are the most fragrant and tasty.
Culinary lavender is delicious; it can be used fresh in dressings, marinades, drinks, and garnishes. My favourite way to capture and preserve their essence is to turn the lavender into sugar. If you want to use the sugar within a couple of days or weeks, harvest the lavender and put it inside a sealed jar with raw sugar for at least 24hrs. The sugar will quickly take on the fragrance. Note: It will take the humidity on as well, so best use it sooner rather than later or else it will clump. If you want to make lavender sugar for long-term use, cut/bunch it, and dry it upside down. Once it’s brittle, crumble it into a large sealable glass jar, add raw sugar, shake, and then let it infuse for at least a month before using. The lavender sugar can be used as a substitute in any of your favourite baking recipes! I find it works beautifully in shortcake cookies, pies, and this simple loaf cake recipe.
Recipe and instructions for lavender cake
250g lavender sugar (240g sugar + 10g fresh lavender blossoms, infused for at least 24hrs)
270g flour (AP or whole grain)
10g baking powder
100g melted butter
Splash vanilla extract
Whisk all ingredients together.
Pour into your favourite loaf, bundt or mini cake molds. Don’t forget to butter and flour them for easy release!
Bake at 315°F for 20-25min for mini cakes and 50-60min for bunts and loaf pans.
*Optional: blueberry icing
Thaw 250g of frozen blueberries in a strainer over a bowl to catch the juices, at room temperature.
After an hour or so, lightly squeeze the blueberries to release more juices.
With approximately 60g of blueberry juice (or other purple blue juice such as raisin), sift and whisk in icing sugar until desired consistency.
Once the cakes have cooled completely, pour icing over them and top with lavender blossoms.