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June 24, 2012 / mintcustard

Lavender and lemon drizzle cake.

Finally, finally, the sun shone for a short while this week. Walking out of my front door I caught the first waft of lavender from the bushes planted close to the house. I adore lavender. It is one of the few plants that really thrives on the thin impoverished chalk soil we have this close to the top of the Downs. My Mum grew it in her garden and cuttings from there link me to her. Rubbing the leaves and gently crushing the flowers release both the volatile lavender oils and precious memories for me. Lavender grows so well there is a lavender farm a ten minute drive from my house. 

Last year I popped a good handful of lavender flower heads from the garden into a Kilner jar, topped it up with caster sugar, gave it a shake and slid it to the back of the baking cupboard. There it remained. I was tempted to use it for the tea time treats post in May but decided that lavender needs to be used in the warmer weather so went for saffron shortbreads instead. Now I’m fed up waiting for a sunny spell longer than a teenagers attention span and as the lavender is now in full bloom the lavender sugar is out of the cupboard! On the way back from running an errand I came close to the lavender farm. The lavender called me before I could see it. A purple smudge on the horizon suddenly focussed into the rows and rows of blooms at Mayfield Lavender. Generously, the fields of lavender are open for you to wander. Many is the time I have retreated here. After a day filled with stress and worry or simply to soothe a fractious child your cares soar away as you walk the lines of lavender.

Biscuits have featured heavily on Mintcustard recently so I have gone back to a firm favourite, a drizzle cake. I’m starting gently with the lavender flavouring. I love floral notes, the thought of parma violets thrilled me as a child but I fear the family may not be so excited. Next time I’ll add a lavender syrup to the cake rather than just the lemon one mentioned here. I didn’t put any crystallised lavender flowers on top this time but I will in the future!

Ingredients
3 large eggs weighed in their shells
An equal weight of  butter or margarine
An equal weight of lavender caster sugar
An equal weight of self-raising flour
2 tablespoons milk

1 table spoon lemon juice

crunchy topping

zest of one lemon

2 tbsp granulated sugar

rest of the lemon  juice from the first lemon half.

Icing

125g icing sugar

lemon juice from the second half of the lemon

How to….

  1. Weigh the eggs in their shells and weight out equal quantities of butter, sugar and flour.
  2. Zest and juice the lemon. Keep these to one side. I use a reamer as this extracts the flesh as well as the juice. The little flecks of lemon make the icing look bejewelled.
  3. Place butter and sugar in a large bowl and beat together well. Continue creaming until the butter and sugar mixture becomes paler in colour.
  4. Beat the eggs in a separate bowl and add half of this beaten egg into the mixture, and stir it in well. Add in a couple of tablespoons of the flour, then the rest of the egg, and beat again.
  5. Taking a metal spoon very gently fold in the rest of the flour.  Use a cutting and folding movement to combine the flour without losing any air from the mix. When all the flour is combined add in two tablespoons of milk and the tablespoon of lemon juice.
  6. Put this mix into a 11” by 7” rectangular cake tin and bake for 30/35  minutes at 190 C until firm and golden brown.
  7. When cooked cool for a short while in the tin.
  8. Combine together the ingredients for the crunchy topping. Pour over the warm cake and leave to cool completely before icing.
  9. Add the remaining juice to the icing sugar. Add a little more icing sugar/water to make a thick cream consistency. Tip over the cake and allow to drip down the sides. I did add some purple food colouring to the icing just to remind everyone that they should expect a slightly different taste to this cake.
  10. Devour.

The cake has a lemony flavour and a subtle but surprising floral quality. Next up a lavender syrup and some lavender shortbread too.

If you are in the North Downs area of Surrey make a detour to Mayfield Lavender, walk the fields, breathe in the peace and have a cup of tea too!

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