Lavender-Lemon Pound Cake

This recipe produces a classic pound cake crumb with its buttery structure, but it’s the interplay between the lavender and the lemon that decidedly takes the spotlight.

Lavender-Lemon Pound Cake by Cakewalker

Of Earthen Delights & Buried Treasure

On a Saturday morning a few weeks ago, my son and I set out to visit the Sunrise Farmer’s Market. It was a glorious spring morning, much like today. There were clear blue skies, it was sunny and a tad crisp for the hour, but with a hint for a warm-up by mid-day. We were hunting for some fresh strawberries—the ones we bought for the Strawberry Kiss Cake. Those glorious berries weren’t the only treasures we found…we stocked up on plants for our vegetable garden; habanero, jalapeno and cayenne peppers, and an heirloom tomato grown from vintage seed stock.

Lavender SatchelsAs we were making our way along the thoroughfare of farm stands, there was an alluring fragrance in the air. It was seemingly unidentifiable at first; the sights, sounds and smells of all the goods were an invitation for sensory overload. But you couldn’t help notice its attractive qualities and how it lifted your spirit to a tranquil state. There, just beyond us in the center aisle, was where I spied the source of the scent that romanced me.

Spilled Lavender and Lemons

I knew instantly what it was and with every step we traversed towards the display table, the aroma became thick, heady and intoxicating. In a vibrant display was a mounded heap of gorgeous purple mesh satchels containing lavender flowers. I stood there for a moment taking it all in. I glanced at the purveyor minding the table as I reached for a bag and brought it closer, waving it gently under my nose. The fragrance was intense ranging from its base notes of moist soil to the sweetest floral high notes possible—a true earthen delight unlike any other.

LA Times Food Section

Los Angeles Times, March 13, 2002. Photo: Lawrence K. Ho

My sole question to the man behind the table was, “Any reason why I shouldn’t use this for culinary purposes?” “None at all,” he replied. “These flowers were harvested from organic plants.” That’s all I needed to know. I plucked a buck from my pocket and the satchel containing some of Mother Nature’s finest work was mine.

Syrup Brushed Cake by CakewalkerThe drive home that morning was exciting on two levels: I could hardly wait to share the bounty we found with the girls and I was eager to locate an unusual, almost vintage recipe I had tucked away many years ago. The recipe was for a Lavender-Lemon Pound Cake I had seen on the front page of the Food section in the Los Angeles Times. With every exit we passed on the highway, my thoughts would go to the box in the garage; the one that hadn’t seen the light of day since we moved north from southern California. But like a heat-seeking missile, I zeroed in on that box. I broke its seal open with the zeal of a kid opening presents on Christmas morning. Its contents revealed a Pendaflex folder containing clippings and other buried treasure. It wasn’t long before I had found the one piece I was in search of—the nearly pristine Food section with barely any yellowing at its pinking sheared edge.

Lavender-Lemon Pound Cake

In my cooking experience I’ve only skirted around the use of lavender, which, for the most part has been the scant amount found in a little clay pot of herbs de Provence and used for savory dishes. Giving this recipe a try came without hesitation. It produces a classic pound cake crumb with its buttery structure, but it’s the interplay between the lavender and the lemon that titillates and takes the spotlight. It’s one part simple and two parts divine. After one bite, my wife exclaimed in a word, “Lovely!”

Sliced Lavender Lemon Pound Cake by Cakewalker

Adapted from Claudia Fleming as a special to the Los Angeles Times 3.13.2002

LAVENDER-LEMON POUND CAKE

Prep Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours

Yield: One 10-inch Bundt cake

LAVENDER-LEMON POUND CAKE

This recipe produces a classic pound cake crumb with its buttery structure, but it’s the interplay between the lavender and the lemon that decidedly takes the spotlight.

Ingredients

    Cake:
  • 1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup dried lavender, divided
  • 10 eggs
  • 3 cups sugar, divided
  • 3 1/4 cup cake flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons grated fresh lemon zest
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup strained fresh lemon juice
  • Glaze:
  • 2 tablespoons lavender-lemon syrup (see directions below)
  • 1 cup (approximate) powdered sugar

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Butter and flour a 9 to 10-inch (standard) Bundt type pan.
  • Melt the butter with 2 tablespoons of the lavender in a small to medium saucepan. Let the mixture steep 10 minutes, then strain, discarding the lavender. Set aside to cool.
  • Beat the eggs and two cups of the sugar in the bowl of a mixer until thick and pale, about 5 minutes.
  • Sift together the flour and salt in a bowl. Using a whisk, fold the lemon zest and one-third of the flour mixture into the eggs until thoroughly combined. In two batches fold in the rest of the flour, scraping the bowl as needed. In a separate bowl, whisk 1 cup of the batter with the melted butter and vanilla. Add this to the remaining batter and fold to combine. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and fill to about 2/3rds full. There's likely to be enough batter leftover to fill about 4 cupcake liners to bake simultaneously for a deferred treat (adjust their bake time accordingly). Bake the cake until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, about 40-45 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, make the lavender-lemon syrup. Combine the remaining cup of sugar, the lemon juice, 1/2 cup of water and the remaining 3 tablespoons of lavender in a saucepan. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook until the sugar dissolves and remove from heat. Allow the syrup to steep for an additional 3 to 4 minutes, but no longer. The syrup will take on the slightest blush color of pale lavender.
  • Transfer the cake to a wire rack positioned over a rimmed sheet pan. With a skewer, poke the cake all over. Brush the top and sides of the cake with almost half the syrup and let cool completely.
  • For the glaze, in a liquid measuring cup with a pour spout add two strained tablespoons from the remaining syrup. To that add the powdered sugar and whisk together. The mixture will be quite thick at first, but continue to whisk until well blended and smooth. There's room for play here; aim for a pourable drizzle consistency, one that's not too thin so that it all runs off the sides of the cake—but thick enough so that the fingers of glaze drape nicely over the sides. If the glaze is too thick, thin it by adding more syrup drops at a time until a desired consistency is reached. Drizzle the glaze onto the cake. If desired, garnish with a sprinkle of dried lavender or sanding sugar for extra pizazz!

Notes

Essentially, the recipe is a doubled version for the cake and syrup as it appeared in the LA Times. Their recipe yields a 9x5 inch loaf, therefore, I wanted to be certain I had enough batter to give a nice fill for a bundt pan. Additionally, there will be leftover syrup too. This earthy elixir offers diverse uses, such as a flavoring/sweetener for iced tea, or in a pancake batter (or over the pancakes). Game for a Lavender-Lemon-tini? Break out the vodka and a shaker and garnish with a lemon twist. For best results, stay close to the lavender steep times, otherwise you may end up with a finished product that tastes like soap. With small children in my house, I opted to whisk off the lavender flowers which remain after brushing the cake with the syrup—I could hear it now, "It's icky, there's bugs on the cake...!" I wanted to dress the cake up a bit, so I devised the glaze. On its own, the glaze is a bit tart, but on the cake it's top shelf!

http://cakewalkr.com/lavender-lemon-pound-cake/

Comments

  1. Wow Brooks, I can’t believe you saved that recipe from the Times and found it in such good condition. The cake is gorgeous, and I love the combination of floral and citrus! I have never used lavender in my baking, but your beautifully told story has inspired me to give it a try.

    • Brooks Walker says:

      Thanks, Sheryl. Give the recipe a try―it will make an ideal refresher after a hike to your happy place.

  2. Brooks,
    I, love the back story, as well as the lavender lemon pound cake. Just gorgeous, and I can just smell your ‘elixir” being pored over your lovely cake. My aunt used to make a wonderful pound cake, which I have been unable to replicate, so perhaps I’ll make your lavender Lemon pound cake, when I can get fresh lavender in a couple of months.

  3. it looks and sounds divine! I have only tried lavender chocolate 🙂 I also like those lavender plates 😀

  4. Stunning work. I love your eye and the pound cake looks incredible too. Glad I found your site.

    • Brooks Walker says:

      Welcome, Dan. It’s a pleasure to have you here! Thank you for your kindness and for stopping by. It’s occasions like this where I learn of fellow food bloggers. Your site is terrific—I’m delighted to meet you.

  5. Brooks, The Lavender Lemon Pound Cake looks delicious, as usual. The photo is perfect with the purple plates and irises in the background. I enjoyed the story too which put me right there smelling the lavender.

    • Brooks Walker says:

      Many thanks Joan, I’d bet you could come up with lavender-lemon version in a cookie!

  6. Margie says:

    I make lavender orange biscotti with lavender from my garden. I also make a pork tenderloin using lavender. It is a lovely garden herb to use in cooking and I will definitely try this cake soon. Thanks for posting.

    • Brooks Walker says:

      The biscotti and pork tenderloin sound fabulous, Margie! I appreciate you taking the time to comment, and I hope you enjoy the cake.

  7. Awesome just superb !! I was looking at a little different cake …this cake will in my list now.

    • Brooks Walker says:

      I think you’ll adore the lavender flavor together with the lemon, Minal. Best wishes in making the cake and thank you for the comment!

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