Little lemon + lavender cakes {Gluten-free} + news!

I had some pretty scary complications at the start of my first pregnancy. Complications which required weekly blood tests to ensure the baby was developing as it should. I was freaked out to say the least, but the hardest part of all of it was not being able to tell anyone. Of course there was nothing stopping me from telling those around me (and the closest people around me knew early on), but as a way of protecting myself should I lose the baby, I kept it all in and struggled in silence through every damn day. At the time I was working in a busy kitchen, often holding myself up in the corner of the room as my stomach churned and my head spun. My fellow chefs just thought I was grumpy and didn’t want to be at work and I often think back and wonder how much easier it would have been if I just let them know the real reasons why I always looked like I was about to pass out. 

There’s one thing I’m not that great at doing and that’s keeping things to myself, it’s almost as if I feel I can’t talk at all if I have something hiding within. I’m sure many of you have noticed a change in my posts (or lack of should I say!) this year as I’ve struggled to find the right words to share that were not associated with my big news. Before you jump to conclusions, no I’m not having another baby, but I have been working on something a little special. Something which has consumed my every waking hour for the first half of the year and to be honest, has even consumed much of my sleeping hours too! 

I’ve written another cookbook! This might be old news to a few of you who have read the feature in the current issue of Peppermint Magazine… where I may have let it slip and if you follow me on Instagram you may have also wondered why I’ve been posting random shots of food and then never sharing the actual recipe anywhere, but now you know! I’ll leave all the details about it until closer to the release date (next April), but it feels amazing to finally be able to share the reason I’ve been so distant from this space of late. Looking back I don’t really know how I managed to keep up to date with posts every week while working on my first book, cause that sure as hell didn’t get achieved this time around! As with the first, I did everything you see in the book myself; from the recipe developing, to the styling and photography and I’m itching to see it all come together over the coming months and I have a bunch of funny behind the scene photos to share with you at some stage to. I’m not professional in any way when it comes to the way I work on books and I’m sure you’ll all get a laugh out of some of the places I have to take photos in my house to get the right light! I’m super proud of the recipes in this one and I truly hope that you all love it and cook from it with as much enthusiasm as you have shown with my first book (which by-the-way is being released in the U.S November 10th, finally, I know, and is available for pre-order right now!).

What’s a celebration without cake right? I whipped up these little cakes a few days ago to celebrate my birthday and while I want to describe their texture as dense, that doesn’t really do them any justice now does it? They are far cry from being light and fluffy in sponge cake sense. More toothsome, but not dense, no that’s not the right word at all. I loosely based them on a Madeleine recipe, so think- chewy, buttery, slightly crisp on the outside and ever-so-slightly floral with a touch of lavender. I iced some of them with a simple lemon icing, others with a touch of maqui to give them their lovely purple hue and others I left un-iced, which I loved just as much.

Little lemon + lavender cakes {Gluten-free}
Whenever I’m using unrefined raw sugar in recipes such as this, I blend it in my upright blender until fine to help it dissolve better in the batter. Any excess can be stored airtight. Almond meal is also known as ground almonds in NZ and almond flour in the U.S. Potato starch is often known as potato flour in NZ/Aus. I’ve used a little maqui powder which a friend gave me years ago to colour some of the icing purple, but I know it’s not something most people will have at hand and/or be able to afford (!!). You could get a similar colour (albeit more pink than purple), from crushing a few blackberries/blueberries/boysenberries and using their juice in place of some or all of the lemon juice in the icing.
Makes 6

100g butter, cubed
100g (1/2 cup) blended unrefined raw sugar*
2 large free-range eggs, at room temperature
The finely grated zest 1 lemon
1 teaspoon (edible) dried lavender
105g (3/4 cup) fine brown rice flour
55g (1/2 cup) almond meal
20g (2 tablespoons) potato starch 
2 teaspoons gluten-free baking powder
2 tablespoons milk (I used rice milk, but any will do)
Pure icing sugar, lemon juice + maqui powder, optional

Preheat oven to 170C (335F). Grease 6 small bundt tins. Melt butter over low heat, then set aside until cool.

Whisk sugar and eggs together for 5-8 minutes using an electric beater or whisk by hand, until lovely and thick and light in colour. Add lemon zest and lavender. Sieve over rice flour, almond meal, potato starch and baking powder, adding any bits of almond meal that won’t go through the sieve to the mix as well. Gently fold through until half combined. Add milk and cooled butter and fold through until combined. Divide mixture evenly between the cake tins (it will seem like a stiff batter, this is ok). Don’t worry too much about smoothing out the tops etc, as they will sort themselves out in the oven. 

Bake for 20 minutes, or until risen, golden and a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the centre. Remove from oven and set aside 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. If icing, combine a little icing sugar with just enough lemon juice to get the right consistency. Colour with maqui powder (if you have it/want to) and drizzle over the tops of the cooled cakes, allowing a little to drip down the sides. Scatter tops with extra lavender if desired. Best served on the day of baking, however they will store airtight for 2-3 days.

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  • Gabriel @ The Dinner Special podcast
    September 4, 2015 at 4:22 am

    Congratulations on the news Emm! A new book to look forward to next year, and your first one coming out soon here States-side. Such an exciting time!!

    • emma
      September 4, 2015 at 6:35 am

      Thanks Gabriel! Hopefully book two will be out much faster over your way than the first book πŸ™‚

  • Ann @ Eat Simply, Eat Well
    September 4, 2015 at 4:25 am

    Congratulations on the new book! And thanks for the cake recipe: it sounds and looks divine. 😊

    • emma
      September 4, 2015 at 6:35 am

      Thanks Ann! xx

  • Janet NZ
    September 4, 2015 at 5:31 am

    Do you need any stray recipe testers this time around??
    I volunteer πŸ™‚

    • emma
      September 4, 2015 at 6:34 am

      Haha, thanks Janet! The book has already been handed into my publisher, so no need for recipes testers anymore, thanks heaps for the offer though! xx

  • valentina | sweet kabocha
    September 4, 2015 at 6:15 am


    • emma
      September 4, 2015 at 6:34 am

      Thank you!

  • Kimberly/TheLittlePlantation
    September 4, 2015 at 6:52 am

    That's great news. Congratulations!

    • emma
      September 5, 2015 at 12:32 pm

      Thanks Kimberly! xx

  • Lea
    September 4, 2015 at 6:54 am

    Yay!! Your first cookbook is my favorite cookbook – so knowing there will be a second is wonderful. All the recipes I've made from your book, some of which have become enduring favorites, have turned out so so good! I love what you do, thanks for sharing it!

    • emma
      September 5, 2015 at 12:31 pm

      Thanks Lea, I'm so happy to hear you've had great success with my recipes! xx

  • Kate
    September 4, 2015 at 7:17 am

    Yay, such good news! I thought for a second you had another baby on the way…but a cookbook is super exciting too πŸ™‚ I loved your first one and it's a staple for when gluten free friends come over xxx

    • emma
      September 5, 2015 at 12:33 pm

      Haha, probably not the best story to run with when talking about a new book, but it was a similar feeling I had of not being able to talk about something so huge πŸ™‚ Stoked you've loved my first book xx

  • Rebecca
    September 4, 2015 at 7:46 am

    Fantastic news Emma! Your first cookbook is already very well worn here. Will the second have any 'allergy friendly recipes' ie gluten and dairy or egg free?

    • emma
      September 5, 2015 at 12:34 pm

      Glad to hear my first book has had a lot of use in your kitchen Rebecca! All my recipes (here on my blog and in both my books) are vegetarian and gluten-free. Many are dairy-free and loads are vegan, so egg-free as well. xx

  • clara p
    September 4, 2015 at 7:58 am

    Hola!! Do you think I could bake the cake on a regular bundt cake mold?? Thanks and bravo for the new book!!!

    • emma
      September 5, 2015 at 12:36 pm

      I've only tried this particular recipe in the mini bundt tins as I was a bit worried a larger tin would result in a dry cake (due to the longer cooking time). I would try cooking them in muffin tins if you don't have any small cakes tins like these. xx

    • Clara P
      September 6, 2015 at 9:22 am

      Great, thanks for your reply. At this very moment Im baking your "coconut bread" recipe…I have 4 in the oven and have been doing them during the whole summer. A big success …oh and I've just bought your book thinking I'd better have the first one before the second one hits the shelves. thanks Emma!

  • food moods
    September 4, 2015 at 8:47 am

    Well done Emm, that is such great news! Your first book was a gem and I cannot wait to discover the second one. Much love x

    • emma
      September 5, 2015 at 12:36 pm

      Thanks heaps! xx

  • Magda | My Little Expat Kitchen
    September 4, 2015 at 10:29 am

    Congratulations!! Can't wait! πŸ™‚

    • emma
      September 5, 2015 at 12:36 pm

      Thanks Magda! xx

  • Becca | Spices and Spatulas
    September 4, 2015 at 12:34 pm

    Congratulations on your book! I can't wait to pre-order and read all your lovely recipes xo

    • emma
      September 5, 2015 at 12:36 pm

      Thanks Becca, I hope you enjoy cooking from it xx

  • Sophie
    September 4, 2015 at 1:15 pm

    Brilliant news, congratulations Emma!

    • emma
      September 5, 2015 at 12:37 pm

      Thanks Sophie! xx

  • Ajsoares
    September 4, 2015 at 1:20 pm

    Hurrah! Your first cookbook is my most cooked from ever (though I had to order from fishpond to get to canada right away). I'm super excited for the followup

    • emma
      September 5, 2015 at 12:38 pm

      Oh that's so cool to hear! The next one should be available much sooner from The Book Depository, so won't take as long as it would have from Fishpond and won't cost as much either πŸ™‚ I'll also be selling copies myself and can ship anywhere in the world xx

  • Lindsey
    September 4, 2015 at 1:46 pm

    Big huge congrats to you! So excited for this second book, and even more pumped that I get to purchase your first cookbook here in the US soon! xo's to you!

    • emma
      September 5, 2015 at 12:38 pm

      Thanks love! I can't wait for yours too! xx

  • Sarah | Well and Full
    September 4, 2015 at 2:02 pm

    I think it's just human nature to want to share our thoughts with others! It made me sad to read how you struggled through your pregnancy complications in silence πŸ™ But on a brighter note, this news about the cookbook is fantastic!! Congratulations πŸ™‚

    • emma
      September 5, 2015 at 12:39 pm

      Thanks for your kind thoughts Sarah, that's very sweet! xx

  • london bakes
    September 4, 2015 at 2:06 pm

    I'm so excited about book number two! I was only flicking through your first book last night and it's one of my all-time faves. You're amazing xo

    • emma
      September 5, 2015 at 12:39 pm

      You're too kind Kathryn, thank you xx

  • Madeline Hall
    September 4, 2015 at 2:51 pm

    Congratulations!! Can't wait for when it comes out!! πŸ™‚

    • emma
      September 5, 2015 at 12:40 pm

      Thanks love! xx

  • erin {yummysupper}
    September 4, 2015 at 3:12 pm

    Woo hoo! You are a rock star, Emma. Another book done already? I hope you're unbelievably proud of yourself. I can't wait to see what you've got in store for us.
    And yay that your book is finally being released here. I've been itching to share it.
    xoxoxo to you and your brood,

    • emma
      September 5, 2015 at 12:41 pm

      Thanks so much Erin! I haven't had a chance to breath and take it all in yet, but boy am I excited to see this one come together. I hope you are well, much love xx

  • Anonymous
    September 4, 2015 at 3:47 pm

    Almond meal and almond flour are not the same thing. Almond meal is ground whole almonds. Almond flour is ground almonds without the skins & is usually finer.

    • emma
      September 5, 2015 at 3:29 am

      Thanks for your comment πŸ™‚ Food terms are a hard one when you write a blog read all over the world! I'm not sure where you are based, but here in Australia what is commonly known as almond meal, is in actual fact skinned finely ground almonds, and is what is known as almond flour in the U.S… and is what's known as ground almonds in NZ. Confusing I know!

  • Sydney | Modern Granola
    September 4, 2015 at 4:30 pm

    Yay! Congrats! I can't wait to feast through its pages.
    And beautiful lemon + lavender cakes! The look and sound heavenly.
    xx Sydney

    • emma
      September 5, 2015 at 12:42 pm

      Thanks Sydney! xx

  • Jessie Snyder | Faring Well
    September 4, 2015 at 5:55 pm

    Yay! Congratulations Emma! Oh I'm so excited for your first book to finally be available in the US soon too (!!!) it is SO going on my Christmas list! What a feet, shooting/styling/writing your own book, you are amazing. And now doing it twice. I always love your space here and all of the recipes and photos you share (here and on Insta) I just know both of your books and going to be beautiful pieces to keep in my home for years to come. Thanks for breaking the big news to us! And happy belated birthday!! <3

    • emma
      September 5, 2015 at 12:43 pm

      Thanks Jessie! It's been such a loooooong wait for the U.S release, I can't wait for it to finally be available up your way, especially given most of my blog readers are from the U.S xx

  • Valeria Necchio
    September 4, 2015 at 7:39 pm

    This is such amazing amazing news, Emma!! Cannot wait to see it, and yes yes yes to brilliant books and to lovely celebratory cakes! <3

    • emma
      September 5, 2015 at 12:43 pm

      Thanks Valeria! xx

  • Kelly Gibney
    September 4, 2015 at 8:04 pm

    That is so so awesome Emma! Congratulations. Look forward to seeing you in NZ at some stage hopefully. xx

    • emma
      September 5, 2015 at 12:44 pm

      Thanks Kelly! xx

  • busylittlefoodie
    September 4, 2015 at 8:10 pm

    Em! This is brilliant!!!! CONGRATULATIONS!!!

    • emma
      September 5, 2015 at 12:44 pm

      Thanks love! xx

  • KateP
    September 4, 2015 at 9:40 pm

    Congratulations Emm – that is super exciting news! When will the new book be released?

    • emma
      September 5, 2015 at 12:45 pm

      Hey Kate!! Thank you, your support means the world. Not sure of exact release date just yet, but April 2016 sometime xx

  • cynthia
    September 4, 2015 at 11:37 pm

    YAY for these gorgeous cakes and for such amazing news!!! Congratulations!! (And so excited that your first book will be out in the US soon!!!)

    • emma
      September 5, 2015 at 12:46 pm

      Thanks so much Cynthia! I can't wait for it to come out in the U.S too! Fingers crossed it won't be such a long wait for the second one to come out up your way… xx

  • Shari Wakefield
    September 5, 2015 at 12:55 am

    Congratulations on the book – and this recipe looks devine {I'll keep it in memory for when my sister comes to town}.

    • emma
      September 5, 2015 at 12:46 pm

      Thanks Shari! xx

  • The InTolerant Chef β„’
    September 5, 2015 at 7:30 am

    How exciting indeed, great news! Gorgeous little cakes and happy birthday sweetie!

    • emma
      September 5, 2015 at 12:47 pm

      Thanks love! Hope you're well too xx

  • Jo
    September 5, 2015 at 7:54 pm

    Woohoo! Your first book is my go-to baking book and full of suppers we've enjoyed as a family over here! (Your pizza recipe is amazing!) Congratulations lovely.. I hope I can get it in the UK before too long! xx

  • Hannah | The Swirling Spoon
    September 5, 2015 at 11:20 pm

    Such wonderful news! Congratulations πŸ™‚

  • redhotcentre
    September 7, 2015 at 2:36 am

    Great news! And yes, I did wonder why you have been so distant from the blog lately! πŸ˜‰

  • Online Toy Shops In Australia
    September 8, 2015 at 6:15 am

    Wow ! Very tasty and yummy cake .

  • Amber Harding
    September 8, 2015 at 2:17 pm

    Those cupcakes look fantastic!

  • Lauren Gaskill | Making Life Sweet
    September 8, 2015 at 8:10 pm

    That is so exciting!! Congratulations. πŸ™‚ Beautiful cakes too.I can't wait for the cookbook's release!

  • Bron Maxabella
    September 10, 2015 at 7:19 am

    Wonderful news! I kinda suspected… all those delicious shots and no blog post to match!! I'm so happy for you, Emma. We LOVE your first book and have recommended it to so many people who also love it to bits. Can't wait for the second. You should be so proud of all you've accomplished. x

  • David Smith
    September 11, 2015 at 11:44 am

    Love these photos! Great news

  • realsimplefood
    September 19, 2015 at 8:14 am

    Congrats Emma – I cannot believe you managed to keep this quiet for so long! All the best with the final stages of the book and I wish you every success with it once published!!

  • Unknown
    May 23, 2016 at 3:38 am

    Hi there, Has anyone tried making these with coconut oil instead of butter? would prefer them dairy free. Also any tries with other sweeteners eg maple syrup or honey etc?