Recipe: Spiced mandarin cake with lavender syrup and cinnamon sugar

I made this cake for Youth Food Movement’s cake stall at the recent event Brisbane Film Feast.

They’re an organisation that I volunteer with. They’re all about educating and trying to make real changes in the current food system by holding events as well as various campaigns and workshops to discuss and change current practices with producers, farmers, policymakers, etc. I love what they do and as a 24-year-old youth, I care about our future and really hope that our generation can make the world a better place.

Keep an eye out here:

Little promo aside, cake stalls means a delicious offering of baked goods for good purposes! Eat cake and receive good karma too! It’s a win/win.

I love this cake because it touches on that minimal waste/waste-free food ethic by using the whole mandarin.

This is no ordinary cake although modest and humble in looks.

This cake is a syrup cake. It’s also a tea cake. And a fruit cake.

The light perfume-y fragrance from the mandarins is really enhanced by the floral touch from the lavender syrup. There’s slightly woody spice from the cinnamon. It’s a very pretty smelling cake – if you could bottle the scent, it could be a perfume.

Spiced mandarin cake with lavender syrup and cinnamon sugar


  • 3 whole medium sized mandarins, washed and cut into quarters
  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp each ground cinnamon and ginger
  • 250g cultured unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 cup (220g) caster sugar
  • 2 tbs brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • Lavendar syrup:
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 3 sprigs of dried lavender
  • Mandarin zest, from 3 mandarins
  • Cinnamon sugar, to decorate
  • Dried lavender sprigs, to decorate


  1. Preheat the oven to 160°C. Grease a deep 20cm round tin.
  2. Zest the mandarins before use and keep aside for the syrup.
  3. Puree mandarins into a food processor, leaving the skin on. Puree, set aside. (If you’re using a mini processor with small blades, pop out the seeds like I did – no one wants to bust up their kitchen gadgets!)
  4. In a large bowl, combine flour and baking bowder.
  5. Mix butter and sugar in a separate bowl until creamy. Add eggs one at a time, creaming well in between each addition (don’t worry if it starts to curdle – just keep at it).
  6. Add the flour and mandarin puree until combined.
  7. Spoon batter evenly into the prepared pan and smooth over the top. Bake in the oven for 40 – 45 minutes or until firm. Stand for 5 minutes before removing from pan.
  8. Cool cake completely before icing.
    To make syrup:
  9. Heat sugar, honey, lavender and mandarin zest over low heat until reduced (think of a honey consistency, runny but sticky). Allow to cool slightly, remove stalks.
  10. Poke a few holes in the cake with a skewer. Pour syrup over cake and sprinkle/dust with cinnamon sugar. I prefer to do this by hand over a tray rather than dipping cake upside down onto a plate. Decorate with lavender flowers.


This cake is dense from the fruit rather than a light sponge so don’t worry if it doesn’t look like a typical cake batter when you’re mixing the fruit in.

You could easily play around with other fruits like oranges and lemons.

As a bonus waste-free tip: you can crush the eggshells and scatter over your garden for extra nutrients!


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