Our kitchen garden cook reveals her favourite recipes with lavender.
Lavender is a wonderfully fragrant herb that is often overlooked in the kitchen. It can be paired successfully with both sweet and savoury dishes try pounding the flowers with lemon zest for a delicious marinade for lamb but be careful always to use it in small quantities or the flavour can become a little too intense.
Lavender-and-lemon layer cake with vanilla-mascarpone icing (serves 4)
For the lavender layer
1tbspn lavender flowers
125g caster sugar
110g unsalted butter
2 free-range eggs
100g self-raising flour
25g ground almonds
10ml soured cream
For the lemon layers
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
200g unsalted butter
250g caster sugar
4 free-range eggs
200g self-raising flour
50g ground almonds
25ml soured cream
Juice of 1 lemon
25g caster sugar
200g cream cheese
100g icing sugar
10ml lemon juice
Handful fresh blueberries and a few stems of lavender
Preheat your oven to 180˚C/350˚F/gas mark 4 and set aside three greased 8in sandwich tins. Blitz the lavender flowers and sugar in a processor until well mixed. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and lavender sugar until fluffy and beat the eggs before adding them gradually.
Remove the bowl from the stand mixer and fold the self-raising flour and ground almonds through the mix with as few folds as possible. Stir in the soured cream and then pour into a prepared tin. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean, and turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Clean the bowl from your stand mixer before adding the unsalted butter and caster sugar, creaming them together until fluffy. Add the beaten eggs, a little at a time, and mix until incorporated. Fold the ground almonds, lemon zest and juice through, followed by the self-raising flour and the soured cream. Divide the mixture between two sandwich tins and bake for about 20 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean.
In the meantime, heat the sugar and lemon juice together in a small saucepan. While the cakes are still hot, make holes with a toothpick over the top and drizzle the lemon syrup over them. Turn the cake out onto a wire rack and leave to cool completely.
Make the icing by mixing the mascarpone, cream cheese, icing sugar and lemon juice in the bowl of your stand mixer until smooth.
To assemble the cake, place a lemon layer on a plate and smooth a few tablespoons of icing over it. Add the lavender layer, more icing and then the top lemon layer and further icing. Ice all around the cake and decorate with fresh blueberries and stems of lavender. Serve with a dollop of mascarpone on the side.
More ways with lavender
Fill a 500ml-capacity jar with caster sugar and then add 2tbspn of edible lavender flowers. Leave them to infuse for about a week before using in recipes.
Mix 300g icing sugar and 1tbspn lavender flowers together before spreading on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Heat in a hot oven for about 5 minutes and then remove, stir well and set aside. To make the meringue, whisk 5 egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer (or use an electric whisk) until stiff peaks form. Add the lavender sugar a tablespoon at a time and continue to whisk for a few minutes.
Using a piping bag, pipe dollops of the mix onto a baking sheet. Reduce the oven heat to 110˚C/225˚F/gas mark one-quarter and place the tray in the oven for about an hour. Allow completely to cool on the tray. For the buttercream, melt 100g dark chocolate and mix with 200g unsalted butter and 400g icing sugar. If it seems a little thick, add a splash of cream and mix again. To serve, place a spoonful of icing onto a kiss and then sandwich it by adding another kiss.
Cream together 250g unsalted butter with 125g lavender caster sugar (see above). Mix in 250g plain flour and 100g rice flour before pressing into an 8in cake tin. Put the tin in your fridge for half an hour, then bake at 180˚C/350˚F/gas mark 4 for about 25–30 minutes. Cool in the tin and serve with a few sprigs of lavender for decoration.
Simmered with ginger and served with almond pavlova or baked into cake: just two of our favourite plum recipes this