Chamomile, Apricot, Olive Oil Cake and a Slice of Childhood Memories
Updated: Sep 2
Growing up, my cousins and I picked wild chamomile flowers up the hills by my grandmothers house. At that time, the hills were bare and home to lots of native Palestinian plants. There is a Bedouin tent and a simple home on top of the hill that remains there until this day. As kids, we ran all the way up the hill to Um Hussein who lived there with her family. I was fascinated and curious by their ways of living (mostly with their sheep and dogs that roamed freely enjoying the greens and the breezy air.). We used to play there with our cousins for hours in the summertime until teta called us in for dinner right before it got dark.
I made this cake in memory of the hill in Beit Safafa and all the wild chamomile we picked. Sadly, the hill is no longer there. it’s now home to a giant Israeli settlement.
The hill now is an illegal brick jungle. And my teta’s home is separated from what used to be the hill by a busy road. But, teta and Um Hussein are still there along with all of our beloved childhood memories.
Chamomile is a flower in the Asteraceae family, making it a relative of the daisy. Chamomile has a gentle subtle flavor and a beautiful flower. It is a delicate looking plant that is surprisingly tough. And grows back every year.
This Chamomile cake does not have a strong flavor. It’s delicate and subtle. The fresh chamomile flowers in this cake are steeped in the milk and then dried chamomile is added to the actual cake batter. The olive oil makes this cake rich and fruity while the apricots offer a refreshing summer flavor.
The two most popularly grown chamomile varieties are German chamomile and Roman chamomile.
German chamomile is the annual herb used for making tea. However, it self-seeds, you might think it's a perennial.The stems are not strong, they will bend and flop as the plant grows taller and develops the flower blossom.
How to harvest:
While most other herbs are harvested for stems, leaves or even roots, chamomile harvest is all about the blossoms. It is best to harvest the blossoms when they are open to their fullest, before the petals begin to droop backwards.
Start harvesting chamomile flowers in the morning after the dew has evaporated but before the sun is high.
Pinch off the stalk just below the flower head and pop off the bloom.
How to dry chamomile:
Lay the flowers out in a single layer on paper towels or a clean kitchen towel and allow them to dry for 1-2 weeks in a dark, dry area. When the flowers are completely dry, store them in a tight glass jar for up to 6 months. They can still be used after 6 months, but the flavor is less intense.
Prep time: 15 min
Total time: 1 hour
2 cups sliced apricots pits removed and cut in half
1 tbls dried chamomile or content from 3 chamomile tea bags crushed
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup olive oil
3/4 cup milk (I used 2%) you can use almond milk if you wish
1 cup AP flour
3/4 cup almond flour
1/4 cup sliced raw almonds
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of salt
Preheat oven to 375F. Line a 9-inch cake pan with a circle of parchment paper and brush sides and bottom with a bit of olive oil.
Add 2 bags of chamomile tea to the milk and warm through steep for 15 minutes and cool before adding to the eggs
In a bowl, whisk the eggs, Add the sugar, chamomile milk, and olive oil. Whisk together until smooth.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients: flour, almond flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the wet into the dry ingredients and mix to combine just until it’s combined. Don’t over-mix.
Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan. Top the cake with the sliced apricots until you cover the top. Add the sliced almonds. The fruits will sink ever so slightly creating delicious dimples of fruit into the cake once cooked.
Bake the cake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 35-45 min.
Let the cake cool in the pan until cool enough to handle about half an hour.
Invert the cake onto a cooling rack and let it cool completely before slicing.
Serve with honey whipped cream or I love to serve it with sweetened plain yogurt with a bit of honey.