Sunday, March 15, 2015

Sunday cake

Or the cake that really made the point that I need a new oven (I'll put it in hand on my next day off). Mother's day is as good an excuse for baking a cake as any and as mine was coming round for lunch with my sister it was also the perfect time to play with a couple of new cookbooks. Diana Henry's 'A Bird in the Hand' (chicken book) and Anne Shooter's 'Sesame & Spice' (baking) of which there will be proper reports soon.

The oven has been slowly dying for a while, and though it managed to cook everything it really struggled. Especially with the cake which needed almost twice the time it should have done, refused to firm up for almost all of that time and then went very brown very quickly when I turned my back for 5 mins to lay the table. Happily by the time the chicken went in it had built up a sufficient head of steam not to take forever or poison us with undercooked meat but it's very possible I won't be so lucky next time.

The chosen cake was Citrus lavender syrup cake and despite the vagaries of the oven it's excellent. The lavender is as subtle as the recipe promises but brings a lovely smokey something to the mix. Warm with cream it was a very acceptable pudding, cold it's gone down just as well with coffee.

Heat (a working) oven to 180C/gas4, grease a 22cm tin, and line it's bottom with baking parchment. Cream together 200g of unsalted butter and 200g caster sugar until light and fluffy then slowly add 3 egg yolks mixing well between each one and then a tea spoon of vanilla extract. After that throw in the grated rind of 2 oranges and a lemon, 2 teaspoons of baking powder, 2 teaspoons of dried lavender, and 300g of ground almonds. Mix well then stir in 100g of natural yoghurt. In a seperate bowl beat the 3 egg whites until they form stiff peaks then fold them into the batter, put it in the tin and bake for 50 mins or until done. If it looks like it's going to brown on top then cover it with foil.

Meanwhile make the syrup from the juice of the 2 oranges and a lemon, a further teaspoon of lavender, and 100g of caster sugar - simmer until syrupy. When the cake comes out of the oven pierce it all over and anoint with the syrup.


  1. Looks and sounds delicious despite the oven. Glad you got the chicken book - did the publisher send it? They never answered my Email!

  2. Ah, so you fall on the side of 'lavender is a food-stuff'? I remain unconvinced, but syrup of any kind could well convince me. ;-)

  3. I like it in moderation and in the right place, so I've very much enjoyed lavender shortbread with earl grey or lapsang souchong tea, in rich dark chocolate (hard, not a truffle) in a jelly to go with meats or glazing an apple tart, and along with rosemary garnishing some lamb. To much of it isn't good but just enough to notice a certain something is fine. With this cake the main flavour comes from the citrus but along with the nuts and butter doing their bit for texture as well, the lavender adds a charming (I promise) hint of something smokey and mildly exotic and altogether seemed like more than the sum of its parts. It's not the most used herb in my cupboard though...