The Okanagan is prime location for growing many things, lavender included. There is lavender everywhere you look and it grows beautifully on our rooftop patio as well. It is a pretty, fragrant herb and I love getting a whiff of its scent as I reach over it to work in my garden. Lavender fields are a sight to behold. If you have ever seen them in France you know what I mean. I love the scent of lavender on linen and as a bath soap, It has a clean, refreshing quality about it and gives a sense of indulgence, and I am all about indulging:)
In terms of using the flowers and buds for flavouring food you have to make sure that your lavender has not been treated with pesticides or chemicals that make it dangerous to consume. If you are not sure about the origin of your plant then buy some lavender from edible lavender vendors. Here in Kelowna we have the Lavender Farm where you can buy all kinds of lavender and associated products.
I use the lavender from the garden to make lavender tisane (herbal tea), lavender lemonade, lavender sugar, lavender butter and of course I use it in all kinds of baking, from cakes to muffins to cookies and more. I use it fresh or dried (if you use dried add less) but be careful not to overwhelm your dish with the scent of lavender. Sometime too much of a good thing is really too much. You only want a hint of hint, not full blown fragrance like you would want in a sachet.
I harvest the lavender from my own garden that we keep pesticide and chemical free (I have a lot of herbs and edible flowers growing among the hydrangeas and other flowers) and I like using it in this simple cake, lightly perfumed with some of the lavender buds I collected. This cake is easy to make by hand or with a hand mixer. I do find though that a hand mixer gives it more volume. The cake is very light and moist and I can serve it with a dollop of whipped cream as a dessert or just on its own. This basic recipe is adaptable to many flavourings or you can just make it plain. I make it in a bundt pan and keep it on the counter but it tends to be gone in no time.
2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil (canola or olive)
1 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon dried lavender buds or 2 tablespoons fresh lavender
Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl and mix.
Combine eggs, sugar and oil in another bowl and mix by hand or with a hand mixer until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
Start adding the flour to the egg mixture alternating with the buttermilk. Do not over mix. Scrape the side of the bowl with a spatula to make sure all is blended.
Add the lavender and mix it in gently.
Spray a bundt pan with non-stick spray and pour the batter into it.
Place on a baking sheet lined with silicon sheet.
Bake at 350F about 45-60 minutes. It should be springy to the touch and golden when ready.
Cool in the pan and then invert to release.
Served with whipped cream.