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.
For the cake
175g lavender sugar, sifted
160g soft butter or margarine
grated zest of 1 lemon
175g sifted self-raising flour
pinch of sea salt
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
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).
You can pay a fortune for lavender sugar and it’s really very simple to make your own.
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.