Thursday, September 13, 2007

Apple and Lavender Cake TGRWT #6

Apple and Lavender Cake

Over at Vanielje Kitchen there is a culinary challenge afoot, to combine the flavours of apple and lavender into a recipe that works. I love a challenge and I love lavender. Our bushes have flowered throughout this wet winter of ours despite what we soft South Africans consider the relentless cold. The lavender bushes regard us bemusedly as we shiver. They keep on flowering until a hard frost lets them know winter is here, rain, rain and more rain just encourages them to new growth.

The lavender flowers were there and the fridge was groaning with apples, so on Saturday I decided to have a mega baking day and make up for empty biscuit tins that have reproached me from the counter whenever I tore my self away from the computer in the previous week. When it comes to working from home the baking is the first thing to go - the bread has to be done and gets fitted in somehow, but cookies and rusks have been in short supply recently.

Once I'd tried out the crunchie recipe from Vanielje Kitchen (it's a good one, try it!) and turned out a batch of rusks, I gazed musingly out at the lavender bushes. I'd made some lavender cookies before, rich in butter that mellowed the strong lavender flavour. My thoughts then turned to a rosemary cake recipe from Nigella's Feast that I love. It is a simple plain loaf cake kept moist with apple and flavoured with rosemary. Quite simple to adapt to use lavender instead and I thought it would work well. It did!

So here is the recipe:

Apple and Lavender Cake

1 large or 2 small eating apples
1 fresh lavender flower with stalk
juice of half a lemon
1 teaspoon caster sugar
1 teaspoon butter

For the cake batter:
225g / 8oz butter
150g / 5oz caster sugar
3 eggs
300g / 10oz plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 or 2 more lavender flowers

Preheat the oven to 170C / 340F and grease and line a large loaf tin (450g / 1lb capacity).

Peel core and chop the apple and put into a small saucepan with the lemon juice, teaspoon of sugar, teaspoon of butter and the lavender flower. Cook over a low heat with a lid on for 4-8 minutes until the apple is softened. Leave it to cool so that the lavender infuses the apple with its flavour.

Once it has cooled remove the lavender flower and process the apple to a pulp in the food processor. Add the rest of the butter, sugar, eggs, flour and baking powder and blitz to a thick cake batter. Spread half of the batter into the lined loaf tin, sprinkle some of the tiny lavender florets over it, then put the rest of the batter on top. Scatter another sparing amount of lavender florets on top then sprinkle another tablespoon of caster sugar over the whole surface. Bake for about 50 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean. Cool in tin.

We're just about to finish the end of the cake with our tea today. It has kept really well with the apple moistening it and the delicate lavender aroma lent it an elegance and interest that has turned every tea-time into a treat.

The rustic, less elegant angle


  1. Stunning photos! Even the 'less elegant' photo (as you call it--looks fabulous to me!) is beautiful. I can practically taste the cake.

  2. It looks fabulous. I love NL's rosemary cake, and next time I'm going to try this version. Lovely photos, Kit.

  3. Oh, this sounds wonderful. I will send the recipe to my sister. She has such beautiful lavender growing in her garden and is always looking for new ways to use it as a flavoring.

    By the way I just purchased some wonderful herbed salts that has lavender in it. One day, with not enough of any particular ingredients to create a dish, but a lot of a few, I made something in the manner of scalloped potatoes,
    layering instead, potatoes, zuchini, onions, fresh tomatoes, feta and white cheddar cheese, sprinkled with that lavender saltm a little milk and butter. It was fantastic.

  4. Kit, this looks so gorgeous, and as always your unpretentious elegance is so appealing. Thanks for entering TGRWT #6. Mary Alice could add some apple slices to her bake and enter as well. Have a good week. Will be thinking of you as I make your rusks.

  5. Clever, clever! I have been idly pondering the theme to see if I can come up with anything, but so far, nothing... Lucky you, having lots of thriving lavender! I never seem to have much luck with lavender, but I have also been told it is because I pay them too much attention while they prefer poor soil and a bit of neglect.

  6. I've never baked with Lavender, but noticed they used it a lot in France. I do love its fragrance, I wonder if its the smell that you 'taste'?


Thanks for your comments - I appreciate every one!