Oh, lavender. French gardens, milled soap, summer days, fresh-smelling wardrobes. Cake.

No? Not a fan of soapy-tasting cake, as a friend of mine describes lavender in baked goods? Okay. Maybe just look at the photos and skip this next part.

Ahem. For those of us who like our baked goods to sometimes be reminiscent of soap (in only the best way!), this is our recipe. The one to make during that part of June when gardens sing with early summer colour, bees bumble clumsily with burdens of pollen, lavender just about to purple open and once again fix itself into your memory: those weeks in June—the lavender weeks. (And, yes, I verbed purple there. Lavender fills me with that much passion.)

This is a summer evening cake. One that comes together simply and easily, the making of it matching up perfectly with a warm breeze in the kitchen, a pretty tea towel crumpled on the counter for wiping your hands as you work. Maybe a cup of tea already half gone, the rest of the pot waiting for the cake to emerge. It’s a friendship cake. A sharing with neighbours cake. A slice as dusk falls because two wasn’t enough cake.


DSC_0127 fixed


I love butter and honey together. Layered on a good piece of bread: heaven. This cake has that rich, sweet character, with a soft, delicate crumb and notes of caramel. And then there’s the lavender (which, I will add for any skeptics who’ve read this far, you can omit completely and still have a lovely cake). The lavender brings a heady, spicy, faintly woody quality that balances the sweetness of the honey with a touch of bitterness. The honey glaze softens the crust and the lavender flowers add that final pop of herby flavor. Can you tell I’m drooling?





So try it. Let me know how it goes. This is one of my favourite cakes this year and as I see the lavender in our garden blooming past the point of culinary use, I’m already nostalgic for it. The first time it came out of the oven, at nine-thirty pm on the solstice, the kids asleep, laundry waiting to be folded, I felt like I stepped into Cake Time. I ate a piece before it was fully cool, standing barefoot in the kitchen with that necessary warm breeze. The lavender, the honey. It filled me.


DSC_0135 cropped


Lavender Honeycake

Adapted from this recipe.

You’ll get best results using the weight measurements below. If you want to use table salt, use only 1/2 a teaspoon as it’s saltier than kosher salt. Subbing salted butter is also fine, but you may want to adjust your added salt. I like my cakes a little salty, so I don’t bother.

[Edited: If you have a tube pan of any persuasion, it would work very well here. Sometimes the centre of this cake is a little damp.]


250g (3/4 cup) liquid honey, plus 3 tbsp extra to glaze

225g (1 cup) unsalted butter

3 large eggs, beaten

300g (2 cups) all-purpose flour

2 ¼ tsp baking powder

¾ tsp kosher salt

5-8 drops lavender essential oil (depending on how floral you like it. I use 7 drops.)

1 tsp lavender flowers



Preheat your oven to 300 degrees F (145 C). Butter a springform pan and line the bottom with parchment—butter that too. Melt the butter in a saucepan with the honey over medium-low heat. When the butter has melted, increase the heat and boil for about one minute. It will froth and bubble up, so keep an eye on it. Leave to cool for 15-20 minutes; I put the saucepan in the freezer to speed this process up (sorry, freezer), stirring every few minutes.

Put the 3 tablespoons of extra honey into a small bowl and mix in the lavender flowers. Set aside.

Once the butter mixture is just lukewarm, stir in the lavender oil using a wooden spoon or whisk (try adding a few drops, mixing, then smelling for the strength of the lavender before adding more; it won’t be as strong when you’ve added the rest of the ingredients, so you may want to go for just a little stronger than you want). Beat in the eggs. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into the mixture in the saucepan and beat until you have a smooth, fairly runny batter.

Pour the mixture into the pan and bake for 50-60 minutes, until the cake is golden brown and springs back when pressed. A skewer pushed into the centre of the cake should come out clean, but this is sometimes deceiving with this cake; if your oven runs cool, err on the side of a longer cooking time.

When the cake comes out, leave it in the pan, on a cooling rack, for about 3 minutes. Then spoon the 3 tablespoons of honey/lavender flowers over the top, making sure it coats the surface evenly. Remove the cake carefully from the springform pan and leave to cool completely on the rack (I just remove the sides of the pan, letting the cake stay on the bottom part until cool.)

This cake develops more flavor the second day (if you can resist eating it all), but make sure it’s wrapped tightly or it will dry out.