There is something about the arrival of another Southern summer that makes me feel like a child again. Summers in the South seemingly last forever, but nevertheless, I am always sad to see them go and look forward to their return. One of the first signs of the season draws me in as the heady aroma of honeysuckle fills the air during my evening walks. Immediately, I am transported to my grandmother’s backyard in Louisiana.
At the onset of any summer evening, I could be found running around barefoot and wide-eyed in faded jean shorts and a white tee shirt catching fireflies in a wide-mouth Mason jar. As soon as I had as many blinking insects as my heart desired, I strolled over to the honeysuckles, which were nestled next to a blooming wild blackberry bush. I put down my treasure trove of fireflies and plucked winter white and buttercup yellow flowers off the emerald branch. Gently, I pinched the end of the green stem and slowly pulled out the center filament until a sweet bead of nectar rested at the end of the thread. Quickly licking the saccharine syrup off the end of the filament, I continued with a few more flowers until my summer sweet tooth was satisfied. The path back to my grandmother’s house was faintly illuminated by the light of the fireflies softly flickering away from the jar in my hand.
Creating recipes using one of my favorite scents reminds me of being a child again, skillfully capturing the scent of a honeysuckle in a Mason jar as if they were fireflies at the arrival of another glorious Southern summer.
Recipe: Honeysuckle + Lemon Pound Cake
Makes 1, 9×5” Loaf Cake
Note: To make the Honeysuckle Simple Syrup combine 1 cup of recently boiled water to 1 cup of granulated sugar. Stir until completely dissolved. Add 1 1/2-2 cups of rinsed honeysuckle flowers and ½ of a lemon that has been zested and sliced into thin slivers to the simple syrup. (Make sure to include the lemon zest as well.) Allow the syrup to steep and cool at room temperature. Once the syrup has cooled, strain and stash the Honeysuckle Simple Syrup in the fridge until you are ready to use it. Any leftover syrup can be added to lemonade or sweet tea!
If you are allergic to tree pollen, skip the honeysuckle simple syrup and substitute warmed orange blossom honey where the syrup is used in the recipe.
1 ½ cups (190g) of all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder
¼ teaspoon of baking soda
1 teaspoon of kosher salt
2 tablespoons (30ml) of Honeysuckle Simple Syrup (see note), plus 1/3 cup
1/3 cup (80ml) of buttermilk or plain yogurt
2 tablespoons of freshly grated lemon zest (from 2 large lemons)
½ cup (100g) of granulated sugar
½ cup (95g) of raw cane sugar
½ cup (120ml) of light olive oil (not extra virgin)
2 eggs, room temperature
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 9×5” loaf pan.
In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
In a glass-measuring cup, combine 2 tablespoons of Honeysuckle Simple Syrup and buttermilk (or yogurt).
In a large mixing bowl, add lemon zest, granulated sugar, and raw cane sugar. Rub the zest and sugars together with your fingertips. Whisk in the oil until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, and whisk until combined. Scrape down the bowl.
Add the flour and buttermilk mixtures to the cake batter, beginning and ending with the flour.
Spread the batter into the prepared loaf pan; tap the pan on the countertop a few times, releasing any bubbles in the batter. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the cake tester comes out clean.
When the cake has finished baking, let cool for 10 minutes in the pan and invert onto a cooling rack with a tray underneath. Poke holes in the cake with a skewer or toothpick and brush 1/3 cup of Honeysuckle Simple Syrup over the cake. Allow the cake to cool completely while absorbing the syrup. Enjoy!
30 replies on “SOUTHERN SUMMERLAND”
This is such a fun flavour combination!! Love it!
Thanks so much! I love how the sweet, honey flavor pairs with the tartness of the lemon. Yum!
Lemon, buttermilk & olive oil – great combination!
Thanks so much! I love how it continues to get more moist as it sits… Yum!
Heavenly flavours in this recipe. And I love how you talk about the childhood memories that inspired them. Nostalgia makes for the best tasting food.
I completely agree! I love whenever there is a memory connected with a recipe. It makes it even better! I have such a deep connection with honeysuckles! I love sharing these stories with y’all!
I spent some of my childhood in the South and your lovely narrative created an enjoyable recollection of similar moments. What a beautiful pound cake and a beautiful post.
Thanks so much! I loved growing up in the South. It was something that I definitely took for granted whenever I was younger simply because I thought this was how everyone grew up. I realized later in life how truly special it was. I’m so glad that you were able to relate to the sweet narrative!
Here in Queensland, Australia I too have many memories of endless summers, eating honeysuckle nectar. I’ve never seen a fire fly though – now added to the bucket list!
Fireflies just add that extra bit of magic to a summer evening!
Oooh this looks delicious and soo fluffy!
Thanks so much, dear! It is a yummy pound cake! Such a fun way to commemorate the summer.
You make my day with these wonderful memories ,photos and recipes!
Thanks so much for the sweet words! You made my day! I adore sharing these stories and recipes with y’all. It’s such an honor…
My first trip the south came two years ago, and I couldn’t wait to see my first firefly. I became 10 again, chasing them down with a a frantic sort of mania. It was bliss. Gorgeous cake, equally gorgeous syrup, now I know what to do with my honeysuckle blossoms when they bloom!
They are the best! Last summer, I stayed in a river house on the Tennessee River and every night fireflies would come out and I shrilled with delight EVERY SINGLE TIME! You are right, there is something about them that makes you a little frantic and definitely act like a child, but really, that’s a magical thing. Thanks so much for the sweet words!
Beautiful memories of two of my favorite things, fireflies and honeysuckle, and amazing looking recipe, must try.
Beautiful memories of two of my favorite things, fireflies and honeysuckle, and amazing looking recipe. Can’t wait to try it, thank you for sharing!
You’re so welcome! It was my pleasure to share this recipe and my memories! Enjoy!
Your love for the South shines so beautifully through all your posts but especially this one. I’m a firm believer of food creating the most wonderful memories and this post is such a perfect example. You’re a firefly yourself, Amber, illuminating this world with your stories and recipes. Honeysuckle is an unknown ingredient here in Finland; at least I’ve never heard people talk about it or read about it anywhere here. I think I would need to come to the South to have a taste. After reading your description of its aroma, I’m dying to fill my mouth with its sweetness.
Oh my goodness, thank you so much for the sweet words! It’s such a pleasure sharing these memories and recipes with y’all. It’s amazing how these stories relate to others all over the world! You made my day!
Cooking with honeysuckle — what a great idea! I’ve been jogging along a path lined with honeysuckle bushes down here in Waco lately and wondering how many I can take with me before someone notices! And I love to fill the house with their scent. Adding the simple syrup to iced tea doesn’t sound half bad either. 🙂
I hope you enjoy creating a Honeysuckle Simple Syrup with the flowers you pass by in Waco! Honeysuckles are some of my most favorite scents in the summer.
Very nice! that’s what we will do with my wife for our Sunday afternoon cooking time! Thank you!
You’re very welcome! Y’all have fun!
This combination sounds amazing! I am not from the south and have never had honeysuckle, but your post makes me want to do both! So where can a gal in the big city get some honeysuckle to make this??? Yummy!
Aw thanks so much! Well, if you can’t get your hands on honeysuckle, you can substitute the syrup with warmed orange blossom honey. I know it’s not quite the same, but it’s the only substitute that will give you a floral, citrus sweetness that comes from the Honeysuckle Simple Syrup!
Just in love with honysuckle. thanks amber 🙂
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