This Lavender Carrot Cake recipe serves up a taste of Provence…
Several years ago, I was fortunate enough to visit some Organic farmers in the south of France. After a busy day walking around under blue skies and a relentless sun, we returned to our hotel in a village called Joucas.
This particular hotel, Le Phebus in Joucas, was renowned for its restaurant which boasted the youngest Michelin starred chef -at that time- in France. Over the following two hours, I was presented with a 12-course taster menu. The food was indescribably good and made the most of the fresh produce that came from the fields surrounding the village. The dishes were all selected by the chef until the final course – our pudding. Dazzled by the treats that had come my way before, I ignored the named dishes and opted for the ‘Chef’s surprise’ from the menu. When it appeared, I was greeted by ribbons of carrots, surrounding sweet almond marzipan, lavender flowers and an ice cream that had flavours I had not encountered before. The surprise was a very welcome one and was the perfect close to the meal.
My version of Carrot cake is in tribute to this meal. Inspired by the almonds, sunflowers and lavender that grow in field upon field in Aix-en-Provence, it omits the usual spice and denseness of normal carrot cakes. For those who also hate dried fruits, you will be pleased to find none here. Nor will the lavender be so over-powering that you will be reminded of an elderly aunt.Print
- 135g Honey
- 125ml Sunflower Oil
- 5 heaped tsp lavender
- 4 eggs
- 1 Orange – Zest and Juice
- 1tsp Vanilla Essence
- 235g plain flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- Pinch of salt
- 235g finely grated carrots
- 50g whole, blanched almonds
- 100g unsalted butter
- 150g cream cheese (full fat)
- 100g icing sugar
- Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Grease and line a 22cm spring-loaded cake tin with baking paper.
- Using a Pestle and Mortar, gently crush 3 tsps of lavender flowers to release their scent. Pour into a small pan alongside the sunflower oil, honey, orange juice and zest. Simmer on a low heat for 5-10 minutes so that the mix melds together and begins to release its floral scent. Be careful not to over-heat the mix. You are not trying to boil this, just gently bring it together. Put to one side to cool
- In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt and finely grated carrots. The carrots will start to separate into strands as they blend with the dry flour. Chop the blanched almonds into irregular chunks and stir through the carrot mix.
- Pour the cooled honey and oil mix into the dry ingredients. In a jug, whisk the eggs with the vanilla essence together and stir into the mix. Ensure everything is combined into an even batter.
- Pour the mix into the prepared cake tin and bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 35-40 minutes. It is ready when a skewer comes out clean from the middle of the cake.
- Remove from the oven and allow to sit in the tin for 10 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. Allow to cool completely.
- To achieve a light and fluffy frosting, it is important to ensure the butter and cream cheese is at room temperature. Using an electric beater, whisk together the butter, cream cheese and icing sugar on high for a good five minutes. Once ready, spread across the top of the cooled cake with a pallet knife. Place the finished cake on a cake stand or plate and sprinkle over the remaining 2 heaped tsp of lavender flowers.
- Serve with a cup of earl grey tea or a glass of elderflower fizz.
- Category: cakes, baking, summer
- Cuisine: French
Keywords: Lavender, Lavender Carrot Cake, Carrot Cake, Easy Recipe, Baking, Cake, Cake Baking, Cake Recipe, South of France, Aix en Provence, Provence, Cream Cheese Frosting