The Pursuit of Lavender:
After lavender officially beat me last time, I decided to put on my serious face, and I re-approached the challenge of baking a lavender cake with a new vigor. The issue was sourcing a larger supply of organic lavender. Contrary to the numerous suggestions I received, I wasn’t about to dig in Pittsburgh soil and “borrow” flowers. Pittsburgh was an industrial steel town [read: polluted]! Who knows what’s in most soils here?!? Fortunately, I found a Pittsburgh ally while shopping the vendors at the Farm to Table Conference. My sachet of organic, dried lavender was part of a horticultural therapy program for kids with autism. Suddenly my long pursuit seemed worth the wait!
I found another game changer via Brooklyn: Royal Rose Lavender-Lemon Simple Syrup! For foodies like me, who are obsessive about sourcing and the ethics of food, Royal Rose comes with quite the guarantee.
Royal Rose promises…
We use only 100% organic, fair trade cane sugar made from evaporated cane juice. We make our syrups by hand, in small batches, using whole ingredients. All of our herbs and spices are organic and fairly traded. Royal Rose sends all of its products to an independent laboratory for analysis to ensure a consistent, high-quality product. We recycle our waste and re-use cardboard boxes. No chemical preservatives, added colors or artificial flavors, ever. We source our ingredients and packaging materials for the highest quality and the best price possible.
This cake was filled with so many good intentions, including my own. I was making it for a relaxing, Sunday brunch with friends. This cake was my Fleatique Piquenique spotlight offering!
Lemon Lavender Almond Cake
1 cup turbinado sugar, divided
1/2 cup slivered almonds
2 Tablespoons dried local lavender flowers, divided
[Next time I’d probably use 3-4 Tbs to push for a real burst of floral flavor)
~2 Tablespoons lemons zest (from two organic lemons)
1 cup organic butter, softened
5 eggs (local/free-range)
1 cup wildflower amber honey
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 teaspoons organic almond extract
1 cup (8 ounces) Neufchatel cheese
1/4 cup organic heavy cream
2-1/2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Grease a 10-in. stone bundt pan and sprinkle with flour; set aside.
Place 1/2 cup turbinado sugar, almonds and 2 Tablespoons lavender in a food processor; cover and process until finely ground. Add the lemon zest and set aside.
In a large bowl, cream butter, remaining ½ cup turbinado sugar until light and fluffy; add the honey and continue to beat.
Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Beat in vanilla and almond extracts.
In a small bowl, combine the Neufchatel cheese and heavy cream
Combine the flour, almond mixture, baking soda and salt; add to the creamed mixture alternately with Neufchatel mixture, beating well after each addition.
Pour into prepared pan.
Bake at 350° for 55-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.
Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack to cool completely.
½ cup organic powdered sugar
2 teaspoons lavender simple syrup
2 Tablespoons wildflower amber honey
1 teaspoon organic lemon juice
little bit of filtered water
Whisk together all the ingredients except the water.
Whisk until smooth. Add water to thin if necessary.
Drizzle over the cake.
Sprinkle with dried lavender.
Take some time to fully appreciate the notes of lavender and the companionship cake brings!