Edible flowers & a cake for the last days of summer

I have never been known for my green fingers. My interest in anything botanical is limited to plants which I can use in the kitchen. That said, I even killed the mint – apparently it’s impossible to kill mint! Our plain decked square of garden is perfect for me; although T is gradually accumulating a growing selection of bright green friends in pots and tending a thriving herb planter whilst I focus on things that don’t require regular attention – like blue painted sheds and charity shop finds to decorate A’s reclaimed play house.

However, I was rather taken with the idea of growing some edible flowers for use in pretty summer feasts. T duly found me the tools for planting and propagating. I did some googling for advice, then promptly planted the seeds in the wrong season and a week before we went on holiday. Despite my haphazard approach, we were treated to an explosion of seedlings when we got back, as delicate violas, peppery nasturtiums and even cornflower took root. A few weeks later and some colours started to appear, and just in time for my birthday! We started noticing butterflies frequenting the garden – how pretty! Until one day I looked outside and noticed those shifty cabbage whites had less than honest intentions:

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Within 2 days flat my nasturtiums were no more. I tried to take this as an opportunity to teach A about caterpillars and butterflies and even fed them some veg box kale, until on the third day even the caterpillars deserted my decimated plants – one was so unimpressed by my meagre patch that it preferred hara kiri by means of the paddling pool. Apparently caterpillars don’t like kale – should have give them the sausages that A suggested.

We were left with one lonely viola, which I gave a ritual sendoff by means of some pancakes and far too many photographs:

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So I did what I should have done in the first place, and held my breath at the expense whilst I ordered some gorgeous blooms from Greens of Devon with the tenuous excuse of a birthday lunch in the works (really I just wanted to photograph some beautiful food) – it was quite a lot of money to spend, so we set about making the most of the happy mail, namely a cake to say goodbye to summer, and flowers in everything that went with it. For the cake I used the cake mix by Honeybuns Bakery who we glamped with earlier in August, but because I’m not one for instructions in the kitchen either, I made it dairy and egg free so that A could join in too; and topped with a lime-zest and ‘cream cheese’ frosting (thanks to help from some free from tweeps) and blueberries galore.

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 The ‘Goodbye Summer’ Cake

gluten free, dairy free, egg free blueberry, lime & vanilla cake

Prepare 2 flax eggs (2 tbsp ground flaxseeds with 6 tbsp water) and leave to set in the fridge for 10-15 minutes whilst you oil & line 2 x 18cm sponge tins. Then prepare the Honeybuns cake mix using the flax eggs and 170g melted dairy-free butter. Divide between the tins and bake at 180°c for 20 minutes. When ready, allow to cool in the tin before turning out.

To make the zesty ‘cream cheese’ icing whisk together 2 heaped tbsp of dairy-free butter and 2 heaped tbsp dairy-free soya cream cheese until just combined. Gradually whisk in 16 heaped tablespoons (about 2 cups) of sifted icing sugar and then the zest of a lime.

Sandwich together the cake with the icing and some blueberry jam. Top with more icing, fresh blueberries, and all of the flowers and glitter you can manage.

Enjoy a tiny slice with a lovely cup of floral tea, it’s super sweet so you won’t need too much.

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But no, that wasn’t the end of the flowers. We carried on, with flowers in salad:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Flowers in champagne:

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And when everyone had gone home, A and I used the last of the petals to make some collages to remind us of our last days of summer, with added floral ‘sticky paper’ (washi tape).

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I’ve had my floral fix for this year now – perhaps we’ll try planting again for next summer?

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