Lavender-honey cakes

April 1, 2012 § 22 Comments

As I love to knit, I’m pretty familiar with how awesome lavender is; its lovely fragrance helps protect my handknits and my (quite sizable) yarn stash from the dreaded Ms-that-rhymes-with-goths. However, while I had a vague idea that lavender was edible, it wasn’t until I was flipping through Ottolenghi: The Cookbook after having made fennel and feta with pomegranate seeds and sumac that I suddenly felt the urge to actually bake something with lavender.

Since it’s a pretty heady floral, I imagined that whatever it tasted like, lavender would be a pretty strong and distinctive flavor. I wasn’t wrong; a mere half teaspoon of delicate purple buds infuses the cakes with an almost spicy yet vegetal liveliness, which is echoed by a pinch of nutmeg in the batter.

My taste tester, who approached the idea of lavender-as-food with trepidation, was quickly won over; in rapid succession several lavender-honey mini-bundts disappeared. Both he and I agree that the lemon-honey glaze is essential, adding a bit of tartness to the flowery spiciness that the lavender imparts. The honey, in both the glaze and the cake, imparts a mellow sweetness, and a final dusting of lavender buds is both a pretty flourish and an aromatic hint of what’s to come.

The only difficult part of making these cakes is tracking down dried edible lavender (and lavender honey if you’re so inclined). I would even go so far as to say that they’re quite hard to mess up; my first error was forgetting I had no sour cream, so I replaced it with clabbered milk at the last minute. I then accidentally overfilled the tins, but after extending the baking time they still managed to come out a beautiful golden yellow with a tender, moist crumb (per my overfilling, I adjusted the recipe below to eighteen miniature bundts and not twelve as I made).

Also, the lavender-honey cakes keep well for a few days, so they’re perfect for making in advance of Easter or Mother’s Day, or any other time you feel like enjoying a very springlike treat.

Lavender-honey cakes

Adapted from Ottolenghi

Makes eighteen individual miniature bundts or six individual medium bundts (see note)


For cakes

  • Eight ounces (225 grams or two sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (115 grams) sugar
  • 1/2 cup (115 grams) lavender honey (or plain/clover if lavender honey isn’t readily available)
  • Three large eggs at room temperature
  • Two cups minus one tablespoon (245 grams) all-purpose flour
  • One teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda (bicarbonate of soda)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried lavender, crushed/chopped up, plus a bit extra for decorating (remove any tiny stem bits if necessary)
  • 1/3 cup (75 ml) clabbered milk (or buttermilk) (see note)

For glaze

  • Juice of one lemon
  • Two teaspoons honey
  • 100 grams icing/confectioners’/powdered sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 340 degrees Fahrenheit (170 degrees Celsius). If necessary, make the clabbered milk (see note), and set aside. Grease the tin of your choice very well with melted butter.

2. In a large mixing bowl, beat together the sugar, honey, and butter until fluffy and creamy. In a small bowl, beat the eggs until blended and pour them into the creamed honey, butter, and sugar, until just blended.

3. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and nutmeg. Stir in the crushed lavender.

4. Pour in a third of the flour mixture, followed by half the clabbered milk (or buttermilk). Stir through the bottom of the bowl, repeat with the flour, remaining milk, stir, and then the final amount of flour. Continue folding butter and flour mixtures together until a batter is formed and no large clumps of flour remain.

5. Pour the batter into the buttered tins. Bake in the preheated oven for 13-15 minutes for eighteen miniature bundts, or for 25-30 minutes if opting for the larger bundt shape that yields six single-serving cakes.

6. Meanwhile, prepare the glaze by juicing one lemon into a small bowl. Pour in two teaspoons honey and stir together with the icing sugar until a fairly thick liquid is formed. Set aside.

7. Once the cakes are finished baking (the pale golden cakes will be barely pulling away from the side of the pan and testers come out clean with only perhaps a crumb clinging to them), let cool for a minute or so, then upend the cakes onto a cooling rack or plate. Immediately drizzle over the glaze, followed by a dusting of additional lavender buds. Enjoy warm or completely cooled. They also keep well for up to three days if tightly wrapped in a tin.


Mini bundt tins come with twelve bundt indentations per pan; you will need two pans if this is the size for which you opt. Medium individual bundt tins come with six bundt indentations per pan; you will need one pan.

To make clabbered milk, put about a teaspoon of lemon juice or vinegar into a measuring cup, and top off with milk until it reaches 1/3 cup (75 ml), and let it sit for a minute or so before proceeding with the recipe.


Ottolenghi, Yotam, and Sami Tamimi. “Lavender and Honey Teacakes.” Ottolenghi: The Cookbook. London: Ebury Press, 2008 (207).

P.S. I know this is being published on April Fool’s Day, but I promise these cakes aren’t a joke I’m playing on you.

No promises I haven’t pinned a fish to your back, though!


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