Lemon and lavender sponge

Makes 1 large cake

This is a once-a-year treat for when the lavender is at its most fragrant - that's NOW! It takes a few days to make as you need to prepare the lavender sugar first, but the result is oh! so worth the effort. Allow the curd to chill for a day or overnight before using in the cake, so that it thickens and sets completely. Use the remaining sugar in sorbets and biscuits. Click on the picture to print or download the recipe.

  • Lemon and Lavender Curd (makes 3-4 small jars):
  • 1kg caster sugar
  • a bunch of about 20 lavender stalks
  • 4 unwaxed lemons
  • 125g butter
  • 4 large eggs
  • For the cake:
  • 4 large eggs
  • 200g softened butter or soft margarine (straight from the fridge)
  • 200g lavender sugar
  • 225g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  1. Strip the lavender flowers from the stalks and tie in muslin if you wish. Alternatively chop them very finely then bury in the sugar and leave for 2-3 days, shaking once or twice. Remove the muslin bag if used. (I rather like the flower flecking in the sugar.)
  2. Wash some jars in hot soapy water and scrub off the old labels. Rinse well and put them in an oven at gas mark 3, 160°C, 325°F to dry.
  3. Grate the lemon zest finely into a large heatproof bowl, then add the lemon juice. Chop the butter into small pieces and beat the eggs, then add them to the bowl with 500g of the sugar.
  4. Either set the bowl over a pan of hot water and heat until the sugar is dissolved and the butter melted, then continue cooking, stirring almost constantly, until the curd has thickened and coats the back of the wooden spoon. Alternatively, heat everything together in the microwave cooker for bursts of 1-2 minutes, then stir and return to the microwave. Repeat the heating and stirring until the curd is thick and cuts the back of a wooden spoon.
  5. Pour the curd into the warmed jars and cover with waxed discs. Cover with lids or cellophane tops when cold, then label and keep in the fridge. Use within 1 month.
  6. The next day preheat the oven to gas mark 4, 180°C, 350°F. Lightly butter 2 x 20cm sandwich tins and line the bottoms with greaseproof paper or baking parchment.
  7. Beat the eggs in a large bowl, then add the butter, lavender sugar, flour and baking powder. Beat thoroughly until combined, then continue beating for a further 1 minute. Add 1 tbsp warm water and beat again - this helps with the rising.
  8. Divide the mixture between the tins and bake in the centre of the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until the cakes spring back to the touch. Stand for a few minutes, then carefully turn out onto wire racks to cool.
  9. Fill with Lemon and lavender curd and sprinkle with sugar before serving.