Chamomile & honey olive oil cake

I drink bucketfuls of chamomile tea each day and olive oil cakes are my favourite treat, so this is my idea of a perfect afternoon tea. Use chamomile flowers if you can. They’re widely available these days and their flavour is intense, almost tangy, but tea bags also work nicely. I normally love the flavour of olive oil in cakes, but I’ve suggested using a mild version in this one so the chamomile can shine through.

Makes a 20 cm (8 inch) cake

  • 125 ml (4 fl oz/½ cup) milk, plus extra if needed
  • 3 tablespoons chamomile flowers or 4 chamomile tea bags
  • 250 g (9 oz/1²⁄₃ cups) self-raising flour
  • 150 g (5½ oz/²⁄₃ cup) caster (superfine) sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • a generous pinch of salt
  • 250 ml (9 fl oz/1 cup) mild olive oil
  • 70 g (2½ oz) honey
  • 3 eggs

For the lemon icing

  • 150 g (5½ oz) icing (confectioners’) sugar, sifted
  • finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • a splash of milk
  1. Preheat the oven to 160°C (315°F).
  2. Oil a 20 cm (8 inch) round cake tin and line the base with baking paper.
  3. Pour the milk into a small saucepan and gently warm through without letting it reach the boil, then remove from the heat and add the chamomile flowers or tea bags. Set to one side for a good 10 minutes so the milk and chamomile can infuse and cool.
  4. Now, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the olive oil, honey and eggs.
  5. Strain the chamomile flowers from the cooled milk, or remove the tea bags, and measure how much milk you have – you need 125 ml (4 fl oz/½ cup), so add more milk if necessary.
  6. Stir the infused milk into the oil mixture. Pour this mixture into the flour mixture, mixing until well combined and lump-free, but don’t overbeat it.
  7. Pour the batter into the tin and bake for 40–50 minutes or until the cake is golden and a skewer comes out almost clean. Leave the cake in the tin for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool.
  8. While the cake is cooking, stir together the lemon icing ingredients, keeping some of the lemon zest for the top of the cake and adding just enough milk to give it a loose pouring consistency.
  9. When the cake is completely cold, drizzle with the lemon icing and sprinkle with the reserved lemon zest.