While Christmas is a time when I invariably indulge in my love for chocolate when searching for the perfect dessert, at Easter I usually give chocolate a miss and try to make something lighter. Something which is more in keeping with the pastel colours that are generally associated with this special time of year. So when I came across a recipe for Almond Lavender Cake on Folk Magazine's Instagram feed quite a few months ago, I knew that this would be the cake I would be making for Easter dessert.
My husband, who has a much more adventurous palate than I do, had been urging me to cook with lavender ever since he had eaten lavender ice-cream at Margo's restaurant. It took me a while to get used to the idea that lavender isn't only used in body lotions and other random potions and that it is actually edible. But once my brain had accepted the fact, I was determined to give lavender a try.
This almond lavender cake is quite easy to make and , although it took me a bit longer than the 25 minutes stipulated in the recipe (it took me around 40 minutes), the end result was worth it. This cake is moist and fluffy, with just a hint of lavender - so it doesn't taste like you're eating your body lotion. Most of the lavender flavour is actually concentrated in the drizzle, so although you might be tempted to decrease the calorie count by omitting it, I would not advise it since you will lose some of the cake's magic.
Here's the recipe, reproduced entirely from Folk Magazine's blog:
Almond Lavender Cake Recipe (serves 12)
For the cake:
- 2 cups sugar, divided*
- 1/2 cup slivered almonds (or whole ones, you have to grind them in the food processor anyway)
- 1 tablespoon dried lavender flowers
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 4 eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream
- 1/4 cup half and half cream
- 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
For the drizzle:
- 4 teaspoons boiling water
- 3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
- 1 teaspoon dried lavender flowers
- additional dried lavender flowers, optional
- Grease a 10-in. fluted tube pan and sprinkle with sugar*; set aside.
- Place 1/2 cup sugar, almonds and 1 tablespoon lavender in a food processor; cover and process until finely ground.
- In a large bowl, cream butter and remaining sugar until light and fluffy; beat in almond mixture until combined.
- Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla.
- In a small bowl, combine sour cream and half-and-half.
- Combine the flour, baking soda and salt; add to the creamed mixture alternately with sour cream mixture, beating well after each addition.
- Pour into prepared pan. Bake at 350° for 55-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack to cool completely.
To make the drizzle:
- In a small bowl, combine the boiling water and 1 teaspoon lavender. Cover and steep for 5 minutes. Strain, discarding lavender.
- In another small bowl, combine confectioners' sugar and enough infused water to achieve desired consistency; drizzle over cake.
- Garnish with additional lavender if desired.
I am not sure why the recipe requires the pan to be sprinkled with sugar. It did not seem to add any value to the cake itself and the sugar made it very hard for me to remove the cake from the fluted pan. Next time I make this, I will either not use a fluted pan or I will omit the sprinkled sugar and add it to the rest of the cake batter. I think removing the cake from the pan might work better if the pan is sprinkled with flour after it is greased. Alternatively, I may have waited too long to remove the cake from the pan. Anyway, I just wanted to give you a head's up that you may encounter some issues removing the cake from the pan.
I do hope that you will try this delicious lavender cake recipe. I found others out there and next time I might try a different one. This recipe is definitely a keeper, which is why I have pinned it to one of my Pinterest boards.
With regards to the lavender, I am sure that most of you will have no trouble finding it. I would have encountered a bit of a problem finding it here but we had purchased some from World Market the last time we were in the US.To remedy that, we now have three different varieties of lavender growing in pots in our little yard. I simply adore it's unique scent. One of the plants is flowering right now and I hope we will be able to dry the flowers to use in recipes and in other things such as body scrubs or simply in sachets to fragrance closets and drawers.
Have you ever cooked with lavender? If you have any special recipes using this fragrant herb, please share them as I would love to give them a try.