Lemon & Lavender Cake

It’s unusual for me to start the new year baking a dessert but today it had to happen. With the exception of myself and our puppy, everyone is gone from the house and there is an ice storm brewing outside my window. My husband is driving my son back to Montreal for his final semester at university, and my daughter is back to classes at high school. After a full holiday season, the house suddenly feels empty. I can’t think of a better way to fill it than with the aromas of a fragrant, simple cake. But more about that soon.

We are now in January—a month I’ve been dreading because of the impending changes to our government. But December was filled with both incredible sadness balanced by immense joy, and it’s hard to get worked up at the moment over what is about to happen. You see, in early December my 93-year-old mother fell and broke four ribs. Thanks to a swift and efficient healthcare system―along with an incredible will to live on her part—she survived the ordeal. I spent a painful week with her on Long Island. There was the hospital hierarchy to get through along with treading the difficult waters of our cold and troubled relationship. It was a dark and heavy time, but was balanced by the arrival of Charlie, our new puppy, into our lives. Charlie is a bundle of energy. Light and smart and loving, it’s hard to take life very seriously when he’s around. Loving him is the purest thing I’ve known in a long time. He has taken command of our hearts―the Bray family is forever changed for the better because of this little being.

We also had some remarkable storms that left us with breathtaking scenery afterward.

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Now, about the cake. This Lemon and Lavender Cake is my kind of confection. I’m not one for overly fussy baked items. I like things plain and simple and this cake delivers. Extremely moist, the fragrance of lavender combined lemon is truly a wonderful match. I had slice soon after it came out of the oven, dusted with some confectioner’s sugar, accompanied by a cup of chamomile tea. Suddenly my empty home felt full again.

I can’t wait to welcome Al and Isabel with this cake when they get back. I plan to make it for Clark during his next visit.

I look forward to seeing you in my kitchen, gathering flavors and sharing the joy, soon.


Lemon and Lavender Cake

Serves 8


  • unsalted butter, for cake pan
  • 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
  • ¾ tablespoon dried lavender flakes
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • ½ cup mild-flavored olive oil
  • finely grated zest of 1 lemon plus 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • confectioner’s sugar, to dust
  • sprigs of fresh lavender, if available, to serve


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter an 8-inch diameter, 2 ½ - inch deep cake pan and line the bottom with baking parchment.
  2. Put the granulated sugar and lavender into a food processor and whizz until the lavender has broken down. Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together into a bowl. Stir in the lavender sugar. In a pitcher, mix the eggs with the yogurt and oil. Make a well in the center for the dry ingredients and gradually stir in the wet ingredients. Add the lemon zest and juice, but don’t over-mix. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan.
  3. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until the cake is coming away from the inside of the pan and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Turn it out, peel off the paper and set on a wire rack until cold. Dust with confectioner’s sugar just before serving and decorate with sprigs of fresh lavender, if available.


This recipe is from Simple by Diana Henry.

Dena Testa Bray has been writing Gathering Flavors, a culinary blog, since 2011. She is a trained chef & ran a home based cooking school. Dena now designs websites, focusing on work with creative people. You can see her website work at www.denatestabray.net. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband and family.