Edible flowers bring spring right onto your plate and brighten up any occasion. Use them to garnish just about anything, mix up with spring’s fresh greens in salads, or top baked goods with them, before or after baking. I was looking for a healthyish brunch cake to adorn with flowers, and this skillet coffee cake won over fans young and old at the party I brought it to. Flower tasting turned out to be an excellent party trick for the kids. This cake also happens to be gluten-free, paleo-friendly, and 1 egg substitution away from vegan, suitable for just about any group of friends and family.
We have a few lovely local edible flower vendors at our farmers’ markets, and you’ll be surprised to find you probably have flowers you can steal from your own backyard. The flowers featured in the photos here are from Little Sprouts Micro Farm in Redding and Nickler Acres in Gerber. If foraging for flowers on your own, do your research. (One good source is here.) Not all flowers are edible. Make sure the flowers are grown organically; the flower industry is notorious for heavy use of pesticides and herbicides. In spring, look for pansies, violets, thyme and chive blossoms, snapdragons, redbud, arugula and mustard flowers. In summer and later, choose lavender, nasturtium, rose petals, daylilies, calendula, marigold, and chrysanthemum.
With these flowers, I simply wanted their beauty to adorn the cake, so I added them post baking. If you want your flowers incorporated a little more, snip the stems and press the flowers on top of the batter. Brush egg white on the petals and sprinkle with sugar before popping in the oven to bake as instructed.
Ice cubes with edible flowers are another one of the most simple ways you can add the joy of flowers in an unexpected place. Place your edible flowers in ice cube trays, then carefully cover them in water. Freeze until solid. Use your flower ice cubes in water, juice, kombucha, or champagne to make your drinks a little extra.
Erin McCarthy Bianchi is a Registered Dietitian and all-around local food lover. She and her two daughters spend many hours in the kitchen cooking and eating. Follow Erin on Instagram @thefarmerandthecook for more simple recipes using local ingredients.