Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Chocolate Lavender Cake


The herbal medicine course I've been trying to organise for some considerable time now is (cross fingers) going ahead tomorrow. The original date was back in January, but it had to be cancelled as the medical herbalist was ill. It's a day course and for lunch we are all bringing food to share - so of course I am bringing cake! I saw this chocolate slab cake over at Celia's wonderful blog, Fig Jam & Lime Cordial and it looked to be just the thing for feeding a crowd (not that 14 of us could really be considered a crowd). A Forkful of Spaghetti wondered if I was making a herbal cake given I was going on a herbal course. Now why didn't I think of that? As soon as she asked the question, I knew immediately I would use lavender. I have been wanting to make a cake using lavender for ages, but haven't yet found the opportunity - until now. I decided to substitute lavender for the vanilla extract stated in the recipe.

So this is how I made it:
  • Put 1 heaped tsp lavender buds into a teapot and poured over 440ml boiling water. Left to infuse for 1 hour. Strained off and heated in a pan to near boiling.
  • Broke 6oz 85% dark chocolate into a bowl then poured the hot lavender water over it. Left for a few minutes to melt then stirred until smooth.
  • Sifted together 300g flour (1/2 wholemeal, 1/2 gluten free), 2 tsp bicarb of soda, 110g cocoa and a pinch of salt.
  • Creamed 285g unsalted butter with 380g brown sugar until light and fluffy.
  • Beat in 4 duck eggs alternately with the flour mixture.
  • Stirred in the chocolate ganache until thoroughly mixed.
  • Spooned mixture into a 9" square cake thingie and baked for about 40 mins at 175C. It would probably have been better to use a bigger cake tin, but I didn't have one - luckily it rose just enough not to spill out over the sides and it did make for quite a nice deep cake.
  • Left to cool a little then turned out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  • Melted 100g 70% dark chocolate with 50g unsalted butter and 1 tbsp golden syrup. Left to cool slightly.
  • Stirred in 200ml Greek yogurt - (I used TOTAL full fat).
  • Spread this over cooled cake.
  • Scattered a few dried lavender buds over the top.
The course did indeed go ahead, which was lucky in view of the rather large cake I'd made!

I was really pleased with this wonderful slab cake of Celia's and luckily the course did indeed go ahead. It went down a storm amongst the course participants - the course and the cake. The lavender touch was appreciated too. Not having used lavender before in baking I was a little concerned the flavour might be either overwhelming or obscured by the chocolate. But oh, I managed to get it just right. Everyone could taste the lavender, but it was by no means overpowering. The cake rose well, was light and moist but also firm enough so that when cut the pieces stayed together. The cake was topped off nicely by the tangy chocolate and yogurt icing. All agreed this was completely delicious and it demonstrated that lavender has culinary as well as medical applications. If ever a chocolate cake was needed to feed a crowd, this has to be the one.

27 comments:

  1. It looks really fabulous! I want some right now. It is always like that when I visit your blog.

    I have given you an award. Come over and collect it.

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  2. that looks fab, I must pass the recipe to my mother. She has a huge lavender bush and is always wondering what to do with it. Making cake would appeal to her.

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  3. Looks great. Not too sure which side of the fence I'm on when it comes to using lavender in food ... maybe I need to try a piece of this cake to decide ;0)

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  4. Wow, Choclette, look at what an amazing cake you've made! I can just imagine how rich the duck eggs and the 85% chocolate would have made it. Thank you so much for trying out the recipe - I'm thrilled you were able to adapt it into such a unique cake! :)

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  5. perfect cakes, looks fabulous..

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  6. Mummy brain strikes again! I had you both in mind to give the award to. I probably got distracted while I was writing it up.I am adding you back on now! Forgive me?

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  7. What an interesting cake - can you use any lavendar or does it have to be culinary lavendar?

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  8. That was a fantastic idea and a lavender cake certainly appeals to me. Hope the course was as good as the cake.

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  9. I'm so excited to have discovered your blog! Healthful chocolate recipes - my idea of heaven! :-) I'm especially excited about this recipe as I've never baked with lavender before - looking forward to the first time now! :-)

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  10. Oh I love lavender. I have a ton of it in the yard and am always looking for ideas. I am going to give this a try!

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  11. Chocolate and lavender sound interesing. It looks really good!

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  12. Wow...an interesting combination.

    I was wondering whether we might have a chat via e-mail about library stuff? I have an e-mail link on my profile page...

    Thanks!

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  13. Jacqueline - thanks for thinking of me and saying nice things about my blog.

    Janice - just warn your mother not to put too much lavender in. I think I got it right for this one, but it is quite a powerful flavour.

    Chele - surely worth a try.

    Celia - thank you for the idea.

    Sushma - thank you

    Caked Crusader - I would have thought you could use any lavender. I used some of the lavender from my garden which I'd dried last year and used that.

    Kath - thank you. The course was fantastic. I was very lucky in getting an excellent herbalist and I think everyone had fun as well as learning a lot and taking away a load of balms, creams and teas that we'd made.

    Astra Libris - thank you. I do mostly try for healthy recipes and hope that the sugar is mitigated by the other good ingredients used!!!!!

    Vanessa - look forward to seeing your version at some point.

    Nicisme - I thought it was a good flavour combination and definitely worth a try - at least once!

    e - will be in touch

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  14. Thank you for commenting on Linden Grove. You have a great blog here. I will come back and try out some of your lovely chocolatey recipes!

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  15. It looks amazing - really moist and generally gorgeous! I've tried baking with lavender before and quite liked it. It got a mixed reception when offered to other people - I'm pleased to hear all your course participants enjoyed it!

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  16. I have a jar of dried lavender from the allotment but so far have only added it to quince jelly. Your cake looks delicious and sounds like you struck the right delicate balance. I bet it would be good with white chocolate.

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  17. Thank you so much for your comment on my blog! "As I Lay Frying" completely made my day - I'm still giggling! :-) It would make a rather grand title for a Southern cookbook! :-)

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  18. hi.. just dropping by here... have a nice day! http://kantahanan.blogspot.com/

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  19. Loving this recipe so much that I want to make it right now, but am poorly. I was thinking along the same lines as Nic with white choc as that would be my husbands preference (funny how our minds work).

    I so wish I was on that herbal course: so that I could eat some of that cake and two learn much more about herbal medicine. Its great that its finally happening.

    I really do enjoy your blog, and apologise for not often commenting on it, but please be assure I do read it. Warmest of wishes.

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  20. Simone - thank you and would love to hear back from you if ever you do get around to making anything from my blog. It's always interesting to see how others fare.

    C - thank you. I guess a herbal course was a good place to get a good reception for this sort of thing.

    Nic - yeah, the lavender would be a good foil for the sweetness of the white chocolate. Are you going to give it a go?

    Tagskie - hello. Hope you enjoyed your visit.

    Mangocheeks - hope you are on the mend. Thank you for nice comments about my blog - it's great to hear from you but please don't feel pressurised to leave comments. I know I'm finding it rather hard to keep up these days. Agree with you and Nic about white chocolate. The course was really good - it was only an introduction but so much to learn!

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  21. Astra Libris - are you going to write it?

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  22. Lovely cake - I have never used duck eggs in a cake recipe before. I too am on the fence when it comes to using lavender.

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  23. The cake looks so delicious and chocolatey but would have to pass on the lavender, have tried it twice now in foods and it just doesn't float my boat..maybe one day! :)

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  24. I love the addition of lavender in chocolate. Everything you make just looks heavenly!

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  25. Margaret - duck eggs work really well in cakes - the yolks are larger in proportion to the white than in chicken eggs - do give them a try if you get the chance.

    Anne - I can quite understand why lavender might not be to everyone's taste.

    Thank you Bridgett - if I took photography seriously, things would look even better.

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  26. Choclette: This looks great. I am plucking up the courage to try some lavender flavour in food this Summer. I keep seeing some great sounding recipes like yours. It is interesting that you infused the lavender instead of drying, grinding and adding it as a powder.

    A word of warning, though... Lavender can bring on premature labour so it should not be served to anyone who is pregnant. (An interesting question to have to ask anyone who is coming to dinner!)

    h/e

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  27. Hopeeternal - oh do give it a try - just don't be heavy handed with it. I think you can use Lavender in several ways. As you say grind up dried lavender, make an infusion of it in water or milk or leave lavender flowers in sugar as you would vanilla.

    Didn't know about the potential hazards to pregnant women - thank you for that.

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