Spring is in the air! ... If you live in Ontario, like me, than you know that is without a doubt a very depressing misrepresentation of how it really feels. It has been the coldest winter that I can remember, and Spring, well, Spring is nowhere to be found. I am quite ready to pack everything I own into a big box and ship myself, my son and it to a deserted island somewhere in the tropics and never, ever, return. That being said, I KNOW that is coming eventually. Within the next handful of weeks the temperatures will start to creep up, the snow will hopefully all melt away (I fear for all basements!), and the buds on the trees and the beautiful green shoots of the crocus and iris flowers will start to force themselves through the thawing soil. There are many phenomenal things in the natural world, but the first signs of life after a long, miserable winter, have got to be some of the most magical.
Spring always makes me think of floral imagery, fragrances and tastes. The other thing I have always thought was very fitting for the season, is tea time. Like a good old fashioned tea party. A sweet little table set up in a backyard, on a clear and mild day with sunshine and a soft breeze. A gorgeous bouquet of tulips as the center piece and a set of delicate little tea cups accompanied by a cake plate heaping with petit four, crumpets and cake. Am I right?
Naturally, I am providing you with a recipe so that you can re-create a tea party for yourself with all of the fixings. This cake is PERFECT for tea. The Lemon Poppy Seed Cake, on its own, is delicious. Adding the subtle Lavender Frosting makes it absolutely to die for. Try them together, or make the cake on its own without icing, OR, omit the lavender and only have a creamy coconut frosting instead. Whatever tickles your fancy!
Lavender is a sweet little flower, that is easy to grow. Perfect for the "lazy" gardener; it can pretty much take care of itself. Lavender is commonly known to help soothe and calm. It is often found in baby bath and body products, for just that purpose. Essential lavender oil is known to be a natural antiseptic and anti-inflammatory. Great for use in aromatherapy when treating headaches, stress, sleep problems, teething in babies and soothing of insect bites and burns. It also happens to taste great! It offers up a sweet flavor that is perfect for infusing in baking, used in salads and salad dressings and of course for teas.
Lemon Poppy Seed Cake
1 cup of gluten free flour (I like Bob's Red Mill All Purpose Gluten Free Flour)
1/2 cup of quinoa flour
1/2 tsp of baking powder
1/4 tsp of baking soda
1/2 tsp of finely granulated pink Himalayan sea salt
1/2 cup of unsweetened coconut milk (from a can, full fat)
1 cup of unsweetened almond milk
1/2 cup of maple syrup
1/2 tsp. of vanilla extract
2 tbsp. of freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tbsp. of fresh lemon zest
2 tbsp. of poppy seeds
In a large bowl combine all of the dry ingredients; gluten free flour blend, quinoa flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and poppy seeds. In a separate bowl combine all of the wet ingredients; coconut milk, almond milk, maple syrup, vanilla, lemon juice and zest. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and combine well. Pour the mixture into a greased standard 9 inch round cake tin and bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes.
*Let the cake cool thoroughly before icing.
1/2 cup of coconut milk (from a can, full fat)
2 tbsp. of dried lavender
1/2 cup of Earth Balance (butter alternative)
2 tbsp. of coconut flour
2.5 tsp. of vanilla extract
1/8th of a tsp of Stevia concentrate (powdered)
In a small saucepan over medium high heat, combine the coconut milk and dried lavender.
Remove from heat just as it is about to boil and let steep for 5-10 minutes. The longer it steeps the more intense the flavor will be. In a stand mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment, add the Earth Balance, vanilla, coconut flour, Stevia concentrate. Once the coconut milk and lavender have finished steeping, add that liquid to the mixing bowl and combine on low-medium speed. If you like your frosting to be sweeter, add more Stevia. The concentrate is very strong, so you really need very little in order to make it sweet enough. Once the frosting is combined and the consistency you would expect for frosting, cover the cake with a flat spatula, and serve!
Photos by Danielle Matar