Now that spring is in the air (at least here in Vancouver), my mind is turning to the garden. One of my favourite things to do this time of year is start planning what veggies to grow and what flowers to plant, especially the edible varieties. In and amongst the kale plants and squash, I always love to grow a good supply to edible flowers to use as simple, yet impressive garnishes for cakes and pies, as or flavouring for my spring and summer baking. These are a few of my favourites and how to use them!
How to come by edible flowers
Try to find flowers that have been grown without the use of pesticides – that is, don’t use those roses you buy at the grocery store to flavour your baklava. Instead, look for edible varieties at local farmers markets, the herb section of the grocery store, or grow them yourselves. There can be confusion and miss identification for those unfamiliar with edible flowers, so I suggest talking to your local farmer to confirm that the flowers are edible, or buy seeds sold as edible flowers and grow them alongside your herbs and other veggies, and away from toxic flowers.
Top 12 Edible Flowers
Borage (first photo) – This flower does not provide much flavour, but it’s a beautiful indigo colour which makes borage a wonderful flower garnish for delicate items like fruit tarts. Pairing it with blueberries is an all-time favourite.
Calendula (above)– Dried petals can be baked into items like cookies and cakes, but some can find the taste a bit bitter. Since the flowers are a little more substantial, it makes for a great garnish to springy layer cakes. Imagine a layer carrot cake covered in cream cheese icing and calendula flowers!
Chamomile – Another flower that, when dried, can be used in baking (cookies, cakes, and custard pies for example), but this time for flavour. It’s good to remember that chamomile is a strong flavour so a little goes a long way. A perfect flower to use to garnish cupcakes or to infuse a custard with.
Chrysanthemum – These petals are some of my favourite to use sprinkled on top of seedy crackers for a nice punch of colour.
Cornflower (last photo)– Definitely the trendiest edible flower last year, these pretty blue petals have little flavour but make for the cutest natural sprinkle on anything iced.
Dandelion – While it’s easy to think of as basic, dandelions are easy to come by and make a beautiful edition to a layer cake.
Dianthus – Pretty in pink, I love to use these ones especially for iced cookies.
Lavender – Full of flavour, dried lavender blossoms are great added into things like blueberry muffins, sugar cookies, or pie dough.
Marigold – Bright and sunny, marigolds make a great addition to pound cakes or as a flavouring to sugar.
Nasturtium (below)– An easy flower to grow yourself, nasturtium flowers have a bit of a peppery flavour making them a great flower to top iced ginger cakes.
Pansy – My favourite flower to use, as it is easiest to come by, and comes in the cutest colours. Try sugaring them to make a delicate garnish to financiers or cupcakes.
Rose – Once dried, rose petals can be used to flavour cookies, icings, or cakes. They are also pretty when used as a sprinkle on chocolaty treats like brownies, doughnuts, and devil’s food cake.
What are your favourite flowers to use in baking? Let us know in the comments below, or tag us with your creations at #bakedtheblog and @baked_theblog.