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The UK and England in particular is known as the land of tea drinking, but according to new research we’re all drinking a little less traditional tea nowadays.

In fact, figures from Mintel show that UK tea sales have fallen by six per cent between 2010 and 2015. However, one brew that’s on the rise is herbal and loose leaf tea – as covered in our recent blog post.  From 2012 through to 2014, sales of fruit and herbal tea blends grew by a staggering 31 per cent. “But what has all this got to do with cake?” I hear you cry. Well, as everyone knows, tea and cake go perfectly together like, well, tea and cake, so with hot beverages steaming down a decidedly herbal track, we thought we’d take a little look at how your cakes can take on a similar guise. And, as we’ve welcomed The Great British Bake-Off back to our screens this month, we thought now would be the perfect time to explore some more experimental bakes!


A photo posted by Ione Walder (@ionelou7) on

Thyme for cake?

According to Mintel, some traditional tea drinkers are turning to herbal teas because they believe them to have mood enhancing qualities or associated health benefits. So why not carry the appeal through to your baked goods offering? Herbs are believed to provide health benefits such as easing digestion, calming mood, promoting sleep and boosting the immune system. Now, we don’t really need any excuse to eat cake here at Lockhart Catering HQ, but we’re happy to say we firmly believe in the regular need to ‘medi-cake’!


In recent years we’ve seen a botanical takeover in the cocktail world, and thanks to Paul Hollywood and co. we’re more than au fait with rosemary focaccia, so now’s the time to give your cakes a herbal bake-over. Many cake recipes featuring herbs are traditional, classic recipes that use the best that nature has to offer, and provide great depth of flavour. These types of recipes are having a revival, and it could well be due to attempts by many to lower their sugar or fat intake. Herbs help you to bake a world of tastes into your cakes without the need for often-calorific or ‘artificial’ added extras. But that’s not to say that baking with herbs can’t be indulgent, or even that you need to turn your restaurant kitchen into an apothecary to tap into the trend.


A photo posted by Promoting Food (@promotefood) on

How to bake with botanicals

Herbs are great for adding colour and texture when baked directly into cakes but you might choose to use them in a number of ways. From adding herb essences into your batter mix through to decorating with herb infused drizzles or buttercream, you can give nature a feature in lots of creative cakey ways. Here are just a few of our favourite herbs to incorporate into cakes. Perhaps it’s time for you to grab a pot or two? 


  1. Lavender
With its distinct colour and gentle fragrance, lavender adds colour and texture to cakes while lavender essence makes a delicious addition to buttercream or shortbread. Flavour matches: Lemon, blueberry, orange
  1. Basil
The sweet taste of basil gives bakes a refreshing taste, which is perhaps why the herb is commonly used in ‘heavier’ polenta or almond cakes. Flavour matches: Strawberry, vanilla, lemon, peach, blackberry
  1. Peppermint
We’re used to eating sweet mint flavours and peppermint is often paired with other ultra-sweet flavours such as chocolate, though there’s a lot to be said for paring back the sugar content and letting the mint shine through. Flavour matches: Strawberry, chocolate, white chocolate, red velvet
  1. Rosemary
Citrus flavours work wonderfully with rosemary, whose earthy pine aroma makes it a perfect addition for pastry too. Flavour matches: Orange, lemon, apple, pear, walnuts, plum, carrot, courgette
  1. Thyme

A hardy herb, thyme is a member of the mint family. Set it free from meat, stews and soups by giving it new life as a component of delicious drizzles. Flavour matches: Lemon, strawberry, courgette, banana, blackberry


A photo posted by @sacredcooking on

Used in small quantities, herbs can provide very subtle flavours. Balancing these natural textures and tastes can be more rewarding and of course, more challenging than relying on super-sweet flavours for your cakes.

Do you have a failsafe cake or pudding recipe that makes a feature of herbs, or have you tried an unusual herb and cake combination that you’d like to share? Have you noticed customers starting to favour naturally flavoured desserts over other offerings in your restaurant? Leave us a comment below or join the conversation over at @BunzlLockhart."


Lockhart Catering on 6 August 2015 4:28 AM

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