Lavender cake with buttercream icing
January 31, 2010 § 1 Comment
The long-awaited lavender cake recipe is finally here, albeit not in the form you would have expected. I decided to make a loaf cake this time, which was full of its own surprises to say the least. The lavender flowers imparted a lovely spicy-sweet fragrance and taste to the cake, and the lavender buttercream was satisfyingly rich. This is what afternoon tea was made for.
Lavender is part of the mint family of plants, which means its somewhat related to other aromatic herbs and flowers such as basil, rosemary, mint and oregano. Lavender itself cross-pollinates very easily, so there’s a whole range of different variations of the lavender species. In culinary use, lavender flowers have been used for making honey, cake decorations, additions to chocolate and tea. L. Angustifolia, better known as English Lavender, has the sweetest aroma out of all the variations and is most commonly used in culinary applications of lavender.
Lavender should be used sparingly as you can easily overdo it with the flavour, as the essential oil of lavender is contained within the flowers that are used in cooking. I use lavender sugar (with the dried flowers) in my cooking simply because the lavender and sugar complement each other really well, and the lavender scented sugar is useful for flavouring the buttercream icing (and other various ingredients not necessarily related to the cake).
The recipe itself is incredibly straightforward, although I don’t think I’ll be making the loaf again as it took much longer in the oven than previous incarnations of the lavender cake to the point where it began to harden on top and wasn’t as satisfying as, say, a pound cake. But less of the whinging and lets get onto the actual recipe. You will need:
- 175g unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 175g golden caster sugar
- 175g self-raising flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp vanilla essence
- 3 eggs
- 1-2 tbsp whole milk (optional)
- 1 tsp of lavender flowers
Start by preheating your oven to to 180°C and line the cake tin (either an 8-9 inch loaf tin or more preferably a 20cm springform cake tin) with baking parchment. Then cream the butter and sugar together in a large mixing bowl until pale.
Crack the eggs into the butter mix one at a time and beat until fully combined, then add the vanilla essence and then sift over the flour and fold in using a large metal spoon. Add the baking powder at this point and combine well. I broke out the good ol’ electric whisk for the first part of the cake-mixing, and it gave me this beautiful pale mixture which I added my lavender flowers (with a bit of lavender sugar for luck) to.
At this point, if the mixture is not of a dropping consistency, add 1 to 2 tbsp of whole milk to loosen it up a little. Put the mixture in the lined cake tin and bake for approximately 20-25 minutes (or if you’re my crazy loaf cake apparently for around 45-50 minutes). Really, I’d suggest to just keep an eye on it from around 25 minutes, using a skewer to check if the middle of the cake is cooked. If the skewer comes out clean, you’re good to go.
Stand the cake for about 5 minutes after removing it from the oven and then cool it on a wire rack while you prepare the buttercream icing filling:
- 25g unsalted butter, softened
- 60g icing sugar, sifted
- 2 tsp whole milk
- ½ tsp lavender flowers
Beat the butter until its creamy, then sift in the icing sugar (or just bung it in as it is if you’re lazy like me). Beat the icing sugar and butter together, then add the milk a teaspoon at a time and combine well. Sprinkle the lavender flowers on top and mix well.
Slice your cooled cake in half, spread the buttercream icing lavishly in the middle and stick the top back on. This is heavenly with a cup of Chai tea. Actually. So much so, in fact, that when I went downstairs to the kitchen the next morning to have a slice with my morning cuppa, I found that half my cake had gone!
I think that’s a good testament to its deliciousness as any. Bake it, and enjoy.