Lavender, Lemon and White Chocolate Cake

The idea for this cake came from Ruby Tandoh’s recent guardian article including a recipe for a pineapple and camomile cake. I made the pineapple and camomile cake for a friend’s birthday and really liked the subtle floral hit provided by the camomile. This got me thinking about lavender. Lavender is one of those flavours that can be really hit or miss- too much and you may feel like you’ve accidentally ingested your nan’s soap. My last experience with lavender didn’t end particularly well either, with a broken oven thermostat leading to a crispy lavender cake brick. This time, however, I donned the balaclava again and went stealing lavender from my neighbour’s bush and made a cake I am proud of. I feel this cake would be the perfect guest at any summer party.  This recipe is quite time consuming, but you can quicken it up by using shop-bought lemon curd, so give it  a go. If worse comes to worse, its a good excuse to consume disgusting amounts of white chocolate.

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Ingredients

For the cake

250g unsalted butter

100ml whole-fat milk

175g caster sugar

4 eggs

350g plain flour

3 teaspoons of baking powder

zest of 2 lemons

juice of 1 and a half lemons

tablespoon of lavender

For the curd

2 egg yolks

1 and a 1/2 tablespoon cornflour

50g caster sugar

juice of 2 lemons

For the frosting

225g butter

300g white chocolate

175g icing sugar

tablespoon of lavender

1. Firstly, grease and lightly flour a pair of sandwich tins so you are all ready to go. Preheat the oven to180*C.

2. Cube the 250g of butter and gently heat in a pan. Add a packed tablespoon of lavender and the milk, and heat until all the butter has melted. Leave to infuse for 5-10 minutes and then strain the liquid into a large mixing bowl, sieving out any lavender.

3. Whisk in 175g of caster sugar, plus the zest of 2 lemons. Add the eggs to the buttery liquid one at a time, whisking to break the yolks and mix through.

4. Measure out the flour, then incorporate the baking powder evenly through this. Sift a bit at a time into the liquid mix, folding in using a figure of 8 motion until it is all combined and you have a smooth, glossy cake batter. Be careful the flour doesn’t all sink to the bottom of the bowl.

5. Add the juice of 1 and a 1/2 lemons.

6. Bake the two cakes (on the same shelf of the oven ideally) for 35 minutes. The cakes should be firm on top, and a skewer should come out clean, if a little moist. If the cakes start to brown too quickly, give them a tinfoil hat.

7. To make the lemon curd, whisk together the yom of two eggs with 50g of caster sugar. Heat over a medium temperature, adding the lemon juice and cornflour. Continue to whisk. It should slowly thicken, as you would expect custard to do. Once it is thick and glossy, remove from the heat and leave to cool.

8. To make the frosting, melt 225g of butter in a pan, along with the remaining lavender. Again, once the butter is completely melted leave to cool with the lavender infusing. Then strain into a mixing bowl, removing the flowers.

9. Gently melt the white chocolate over a pan of boiling water. I recommend melting the white chocolate in this way, as it is a little more delicate than dark chocolate and burnt white chocolate is gross. Once melted, stir into the butter.

10. Place frosting in fridge, and continue to stir at 5 minute intervals until cool and smooth. Once at this stage, add the icing sugar and mix in thoroughly.

11. Hopefully by this time your cakes are out of their tins and nice and cool. Spread the curd over the top of one, then pipe a thin layer of frosting over this. Sandwich the other cake on top. Liberally, spread the rest of the icing over the top and sides of the two cakes. Top with lavender if you have some remaining.

Bon appétit.

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