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.