Treat your special and wonderful Mom to this home-made delicious cake. My mother, Svetlana, is the inspiration behind Svetlana Catering. Her love and passion for cooking has infected me as well. The smell of lavender brings me back to Crimea, the area where I grew up. It reminds me of my Mom, as she used the lavender oils in our linen chests – so our sheets always smelled of lavender. She never cooked with it, but I think she would have loved this cake. Happy Mother’s day to all wonderful Moms!
LAVENDER, ORANGE AND ALMOND CAKE
I fell in love with the idea of this cake when I saw this recipe in Diana Henry’s Crazy Water Pickled Lemons cookbook. The calming sent of lavender blossoms brings me back to my childhood in Crimea, Ukraine where lavender fields surrounded our small town. As the intoxicating fragrance of orange, almond, and lavender fills my home, I begin to feel like a kid again. Hope making and tasting this cake will lift your spirits as well!
For the cake:
4 tsp dried lavender buds or the flowers from 8 springs of fresh lavender
9 oz superfine sugar
9 oz unsalted butter
juice and finely grated zest of 2 oranges
4 eggs, beaten
7 oz self-raising flour, sifted
2 oz blanched almonds, ground
For the topping:
10 1/2 oz cream or ricotta cheese
2 1/2 oz confectioner’s sugar
finely grated rind of 1 orange
Optional decoration of candied peel and frosted lavender:
2 large oranges
3 1/2 oz superfine sugar
8 springs fresh lavender, flowers only
1 egg white, lightly beaten
superfine sugar, sifted
Preheat oven to 375 F / 170 C.
Combine the lavender flowers and sugar in a coffee grinder or blender (the coffee grinder will give a finer powder). Grind until the powder is as fine as it can be.
Cream together the butter and lavender sugar until light and fluffy.
Add the orange rind, orange juice, and the eggs. Beat until well combined, adding a spoonful or two of the flour if the mixture starts to curdle.
Once the wet ingredients are well blended, fold in the flour and the ground almonds.
Pour into a greased and lined 8” spring-form pan, and bake for 40 minutes. Test if the cake is cooked by piercing it with a skewer. If the skewer comes out clean, it is ready.
Let cool for 15 minutes before turning it out onto a wire rack.
Make the topping by mixing the cream/ricotta cheese with the confectioner’s sugar and orange rind. Refrigerate until needed. Spread the topping on to the cake once it is fully cooled.
Decorate the cake with the orange peel and lavender flower, if using (see below).
For the candied orange peel:
With a sharp knife, cut the orange rind off into strips (don’t worry about them not being too fine at this stage).
Remove any pith left on the back of the peel, then set about cutting the peel into fine, julienne strips about the length of your little finger.
Squeeze the juice from the oranges and top it up with water so that it reaches 1 cup (if need be).
Put the juice in a pan with the sugar, and heat gently until the sugar is melted.
Add the strips of rind and simmer until the liquid is evaporated (about 30 minutes).
Remove the pieces of rind with a fork and leave to dry on a piece of waxed paper, gently separating them first.
For the frosted lavender:
Brush each lavender sprig with egg white, then sprinkle with the superfine sugar so that it is well covered.
Set them aside on a cooling rack in a warm place so they can dry.