Lemon and Lavender Cake Recipe

This Lemon and Lavender cake is an absolute winner, tasty enough to win the heart of any cake afficionado, pretty enough to grace any afternoon tea spread. All good bakes come with a story and this is no different. 

I want to introduce the recipe for this cake with a preface, written by my colleague, Gareth Furby.  I had read about a beautiful lavender field, didn’t know of its existence, and wanted it covered on BBC London News.  Gareth was the journalist chosen to tell the story. Following his visit, he kindly brought me back a large bunch of lavender to bake with. I asked him to write me a small piece about his experience and he kindly agreed.   Over to you Gareth …

Against the early evening skies, the lavender fields were a rich purple against light blue, and not so long ago it was a common sight and smell in the summers around London. Now it may be making a comeback. Close to Carshalton in Surrey is a 25 acre field full of adults and children, who marvel as bees buzz around. There’s little point counting them, there’s too many. Some bees seem so intoxicated or overloaded by the pollen they fall to the ground and barely move, only flying away a few minutes later to hives on the field border. The blooms are gradually harvested by a happy man from Poland who uses nothing more than a pair of shears and elastic bands to make his bunches. This year they have seen a bumper crop and a it’s a big change for fields that perhaps a decade ago were, it’s said, falling into scrub. The summer was hot and sunny , so say the field staff, the lavender has bloomed a richer purple. And business it seems is booming too.

I give you my lemon and lavender cake, simple, impressive and most of all delicious. It’s quick to prepare, takes little time to cook and can be frozen un-iced.

If you don’t have access to lavender, then Bart sell it in jars, certainly I’ve seen it in Waitrose.

De-headed lavender

For the cake

2 large eggs
175g lavender sugar, sifted
160g soft butter or margarine
grated zest of 1 lemon
175g sifted self-raising flour
125ml milk
pinch of sea salt
For the icing

The juice of 2 lemons
8-10 tbsp icing sugar

To drizzle

3 tbsp lemon syrup, or if you don’t have any lemon syrup to hand, use the juice of 1 lemon plus 3 tsp lemon juice
To decorate

A sprig of lavender

Method

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/ gas 4. Line the bottom of a well-oiled 23cm x 13cm x 8cm loaf tin with baking parchment.
Put the eggs and sugar in a bowl and mix with an electric hand mixer for 2 minutes, scraping the sides down once with a spatula to make sure you’ve got all the mix in. Add the butter and grated zest and mix. (I used my Kitchen Aid food processor to mix all this together).
Lemon and Lavender Cake mixing stage
Add the flour, milk and salt, and mix gently until the batter is smooth and even. Don’t over-beat or the cake will end up dense and pretty tough.
Spoon the cake mixture into the tin and bake for 45 minutes until golden brown and firm to the touch. Remove from the oven and stand the tin on a cooling rack. While the cake is still warm, prick it all over with a cocktail stick and gently pour the syrup over it until it has been completely absorbed.
You can serve this cake with a little infused icing sugar (treat the same as the caster sugar recipe below) dusted over the top.
If you wish to ice it, then once the cake is completely cold, mix together all the icing ingredients and pour over the cake before decorating it with a lavender sprig. As you can see mine cracked, so I turned it upside down to make icing more uniform. Get the icing to ‘dropping’ stage – you don’t want it too runny, if it’s a little stiff, add more lemon juice.
Lemon and Lavender Cake
Icing with dropping consistency
Lemon and Lavender Cake

Lavender Sugar

You can pay a fortune for lavender sugar and it’s really very simple to make your own.

Method

Pour as much brown or white caster sugar into an airtight container, such as an old clean jam jar. I use a Kilner jar with a sprung lid as you want.

Taking six lavender heads, pick off the flowers and buds one by one, crush lightly between your fingers, and drop into the sugar.Seal the container and shake gently to distribute the lavender throughout the sugar. This will keep forever.
Thank you Gareth and the lovely folk at Mayfield Lavender.