August: Naked Lavender Cake and End of the (Lavender) Season

Naked Lavender Cake

We had another great lavender season and truly appreciate all of you for your support and interest! This summer has been exceptionally dry which isn't typically a problem for drought-tolerant lavender, but some of our perennial flowers didn't fare so well. Our farmers market days are finished for the year and we'll soon be gearing up for planting fall cover crops AND more peonies. Have you noticed any signs of fall? I have! Our muscadine grapes are coming and the farm's warm season native grasses are blooming. You probably noticed a problem in the last blog in that the photo(s) were apparently missing. Sorry!! Hopefully by the time you receive the next post, the farm's website and blog will be completely updated with a whole new look!

Those of you who know me know that I like to eat and cook with flowers, especially lavender! Here's a recipe I'm excited to share! I found just enough lavender in our field to make this work. It's quick and easy and I love the naked cake concept. Hope you do, too! Enjoy!


Naked Lavender Cake Recipe

Ingredients

1/2 cup whole milk
2 to 3 stems fresh culinary lavender
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons dried culinary lavender
1 stick butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 1/4 cups cake flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

Process

Place milk in a glass measuring cup and heat in microwave just until very hot; add fresh lavender stems, completely submerging the stems in the milk. Let stand for 30 minutes or until completely cool. Combine sugar and lavender in a food processor bowl; top with cover, and process for about 60 seconds. Cream butter until light and fluffy; add lavender sugar and vanilla extract and beat until well combined, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. Sift together cake flour, salt, and baking powder in a small bowl; add flour mixture alternately with milk (remove and discard the lavender stems) and beat until well combined. Stir in lemon zest.

Butter an 8-inch round cake pan and line pan with wax paper. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 40 to 45 minutes or until cake tests done. Remove cake from oven; let stand on cooling rack for 5 minutes before removing from pan. Cool completely. To serve, garnish with fresh lavender stems or other assorted edible flowers.

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Cupcake Bliss: Lavender, Please

After a summer full of heavy rains, I'm eager for fall and hoping for a sunnier weather pattern in the coming season. We took my baby to college over the weekend (sniff) and when Monday dawned to yet another rainy day, I retreated to the kitchen where, on a normal day this time of year, the counter is strewn with lavender in some way, shape, or form.  

Herbs from the summer garden can add a lovely touch to all sorts of baked items. This recipe uses lavender in two forms - the buds (or flowers) in lavender sugar which I always keep on hand, and fresh-snipped lavender leaves which I used to make an infusion. Despite the double dose of lavender, the taste remains subtle. In case you missed an earlier post on lavender sugar, here's the link.


Lavender Cupcake Recipe

First step is to head outside and grab a generous handful of lavender stems being sure to gather those that are unblemished. You'll need 2 to 3 tablespoons of snipped leaves. My go-to recipe for glossy 7-minute frosting is the one found in The Joy of Cooking. In this case, I tinted it with 2 drops purple food coloring. If you have your own favorite recipe, use it. The purple sugar, though entirely optional, has a way of making the cupcakes look fancy. I sampled one before they hit the table and decided the recipe is worth writing down. Enjoy!

For the cupcakes:

Ingredients:

1/2 cup skim milk
2 - 3 tablespoons snipped lavender leaves
1 stick butter, softened
3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon lavender sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups cake flour, sifted
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. kosher salt

Place the milk and snipped lavender leaves in a small saucepan over low heat until just hot (do not boil); remove from heat and let mixture cool completely before using. Strain and set aside the infused milk; discard the lavender.

Combine butter and lavender sugar in a mixing bowl; beat on high speed until light and creamy, scraping the sides of bowl once or twice. Add the eggs and vanilla extract, beating until light and fluffy. Combine flour, baking powder and salt; add flour mixture to creamed mixture alternately with the infused milk, beating on medium speed until combined. Spoon batter into a paper-lined cupcake pan; bake at 350 degrees for about 24 minutes or until cupcakes test done.

Frost and decorate as desired. Yield: 12 cupcakes.

Hello Spring, Hello Lavender: Pound Cake with Style

It's no secret that I adore lavender in every form and fashion. And, as some of you may know, I like to eat it! I also love dessert, which brings me to Lemon-Lavender Pound Cake. I can think of no better way to kick off spring than with a citrus-y cake, although when I baked the cake this week it was sleeting outside! I sampled a slice with a steamy cup of hot tea, a combination that was darn good. For my family, I tried a different approach: Toasted pound cake. Created by running a slice of cake under the broiler for about 10 seconds, watching it constantly like a hawk. Yum.  

The cake is tender and soft, finished off with a lemony glaze which is added just before serving. I confess, part of me wished the lavender flavor was more intense, but better safe than sorry when it comes to baking with lavender. Next time I'll just add another teaspoon of dried culinary lavender buds to the food processor when I make lavender sugar. Pass the cake, please. Cheers!

HCF Lemon-Lavender Pound Cake

1 1/2 cups butter, softened

1 1/2 cups lavender sugar *

1 tsp. vanilla extract

6 large eggs

3 cups all-purpose flour, sifted

1/2 tsp. kosher salt

1/4 tsp. baking soda

1/3 cup sour cream

Combine butter, lavender sugar, and vanilla extract in mixing bowl; beat until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Combine flour, salt, and soda, stirring to combine. Add half the flour mixture to beaten mixture, mixing well. Add sour cream and remaining flour mixture and beat until thoroughly combined, scraping sides of bowl. Spray a tube pan with cooking spray; line pan with wax paper. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean. (Do not overbake.) Let cake cool in pan for about 1 minute. Remove cake from pan and cool completely on a wire rack. For the glaze, combine 1 cup powdered sugar, zest of 1 lemon and juice of 1 lemon (strained) in a small mixing bowl; stir well and spread evenly over cake.

* /blog/lavender-sugar-fragrant-by-design-hits-the-sweet-spot-in-sty.html