Summer is here in Southern Appalachia, and that means it’s honeysuckle season! Because I’m always looking for ways to make the most of the herbs growing around my home, I decided that this week — the first week of our summer homeschool break — called for a honeysuckle simple syrup infused treat. And what better way to incorporate this iconic Southern herb than in a delicious, made-from-scratch summer cake recipe!
If you are looking for more ways to easily incorporate summer herbs into your daily life, or if you simply want to indulge in a bit of southern comfort (cake… not the strong stuff) for a bit, then read on friend. The kitchen is open!
I’m always inspired by the bakes some of my IG friends share on their accounts. I mean, some people bake because they have a sweet tooth and want to enjoy something decadent after a meal. Others bake because they want to enjoy something sweet, only made from scratch and, thus, healthier than store-bought versions, with a cup of coffee or tea as a mid-day break as a way to disconnect from the busyness or stressors of life for a moment. And then there are my homeschool mama friends who have tasty little morsels prepared for their kiddos during afternoon tea or group work in order to make the school day a bit more enjoyable.
I want all of these things. Yes, I have a sweet tooth that I like to curb, in moderation, with a cup of tea in the afternoons while my kiddos and I do our homeschool group work. If it’s not a school day, then I like to enjoy a brief reprieve to myself with some music and candles, a cup of tea and a small sweet, and maybe my journal, a book, or a magazine.
It’s one of life’s little pleasures, or as the French say, “less petits plaisirs de la vie,” and perhaps you want this too.
Anyway, I finally got my act together and baked something, and y’all, I’m so glad I did. It was so fun and quite delicious if I do say so!
If Summer Was a Plant in the South, It Would Be Honeysuckle
Because I’m an herbalist, plants make their way into almost every part of my life in some form or fashion. I knew I wanted to incorporate some sort of summer flower into this recipe, and because wild honeysuckle (Lonicera periclymenum) is abundant this time of the year here in East Tennessee, I did just that!
Honeysuckle is an iconic herb here in the South. You can find it growing all over everything here, from invasively covering the sides of the roads and fences to cultivated planters and trellises in your neighbor’s garden.
Honeysuckle flowers are filled with sweet nectar, and this nectar is extracted perfectly when you make a honeysuckle simple syrup. While honeysuckle is often used for food and drink recipes, you can also use it in honeysuckle herbal preparations as well.
I call this cake “Appalachian Summer” Pound Cake, and it tastes divine. Not only is it infused with foraged wild honeysuckle, but it includes lemon too — another favorite summer flavor, complete with a sugar glaze drizzled over the top as well. Even if you’re not from the South like I am, this cake will give you the same southern feels that a glass of sweet iced tea shared with friends on the front porch will.
Get the full recipe below, along with a few ingredient substitutions. While I try to keep my pantry fully stocked, it never fails that I don’t have something I need on hand, so having some substitutes you can call upon is a must!
Honeysuckle Simple Syrup Infused “Appalachian Summer” Cake Recipe
For the honeysuckle simple syrup:
- 1 1/2 cups fresh honeysuckle (Lonicera periclymenum) flowers
- 1 cup unbleached, non-GMO cane sugar
- 1 cup of filtered water
- Bring 1 cup of water to boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. As soon as the water boils, add 1 cup of sugar and stir to dissolve. Turn heat off and add in honeysuckle flowers. Cover the saucepan with a lid and let this infuse while you move on to making the cake.
- When you’re ready for your honeysuckle simple syrup, strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve. Compost the honeysuckle flowers and reserve 1/3 cup of the syrup for your cake. Transfer any remaining syrup to a glass canning jar and store it in the refrigerator for 2-3 weeks. Use it to sweeten herbal teas, drizzle ice cream or other desserts, or to sweeten your summer botanical mixed drinks!
For the “Appalachian Summer” Pound Cake
- 1 1/2 cups of unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon fine-ground sea salt
- 2 tablespoons of Honeysuckle Simple Syrup, plus 1/3 cup reserved
- 1/3 cup of buttermilk (or plain yogurt)
- 2 tablespoons of freshly grated organic lemon zest (or 18 drops of organic lemon essential oil)
- 1 cup of unbleached, non-GMO cane sugar
- 1/2 cup of avocado oil
- 2 eggs
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. While the oven is heating, butter and flour a 9×5 loaf pan.
- In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Gently whisk to combine, and set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine sugar, oil, and lemon zest (or essential oil) and whisk until the mixture is smooth. Whisk in the eggs, one at a time, until combined. Finally, add buttermilk (or yogurt) and honeysuckle simple syrup, and gently whisk to combine.
- Next, slowly incorporate the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, whisking as you go to keep the batter smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl until everything is well incorporated.
- Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan, tapping the pan on the counter a few times to remove trapped air bubbles. Bake for 45-60 minutes, until a knife or toothpick comes out clean.
- When the cake is finished baking, let it cool in the pan for 10 minutes before inverting it onto a cooling rack. Carefully turn the cake right-side up on the cooking rack and place a tray or dish underneath. Poke holes in the top of the cake (getting close to the cake edges) with a knife, skewer, or toothpick, and brush 1/3 cup of honeysuckle syrup over the cake. Feel free to reuse any syrup drippings caught in the tray under the cake.
- Lastly, top the cake with a sugar glaze, and set it aside to allow time for the honeysuckle simple syrup to absorb, allow the glaze to slightly harden, and give the cake time to cool.
For the sugar glaze
- 1/3 cup of non-GMO powdered sugar
- 1-3 teaspoons of water
- Add 1/3 cup of powdered sugar to a glass measuring cup and slowly drizzle a small amount of water into it, adding 1 teaspoon at a time and stirring with a spoon, until the mixture is smooth.
- Drizzle the mixture back and forth over the top of the cake, allowing it to run down the sides.
Alright, friend! I hope you make this honeysuckle simple syrup infused cake. Be sure to let me know how it turns out for you in the comments below, or share a photo of it on Instagram and tag me @growingupherbal so I can see it.
Love and light,