Another Daring Gourmet original to enjoy before the Summer is through. This cake is special. The smell of it baking, its magnificent flavor, its delicate texture and graceful appearance…this cake is absolutely delightful.
But before we get to this cake, I want to introduce you to the man whose love, patience, and support makes my blogging adventures possible. My husband, Todd. In appreciation of our better halves, a few of my blogging friends decided to all post about them on the same day (see all the links at bottom of post).
You already learned some things about Todd from a previous post about his wacky family history (playwrights and pirates), but here are a few more details.
First and foremost, I’m so blessed that he’s such an awesome and devoted daddy to our kids.
And he’s such a hard worker. He takes care of the biggest things to the most incidental details that often go unnoticed but keep things running smoothly. While he may work in a clinic every day, he enjoys getting his hands dirty at home, whether it’s being a self-made car mechanic, fixing various things around the house, or chopping fire wood to stock up for the winter. There’s something incredibly attractive about a man with a strong work ethic, don’t you think?
And during his free time (ha! what’s that, right?) he is an incredible lead guitarist! Man, can he play!
Todd puts up with so much as the husband of a food blogger – whether it’s putting up with wacky culinary experiments, wrestling the kids out of the kitchen while I do photo shoots, or waiting an extra hour to eat so I can take pictures of the food first, he’s a man of tremendous patience! And speaking of patience, the man puts up with much more than that – he puts up with me dictating various poses to him so I can practice my photography. Horses, vintage hats, and oh so much more. Oh, the agony he’s willing to endure in order to be supportive of my hobbies!
As part of this appreciation post, we all asked our husbands the same 5 questions. Here we go!
What is your significant other’s favorite blog called? (with a grin) “What’s a blog? Is that something you cough up when you’re sick?” (Nice one, Todd!)
What is your favorite prop? “That 1970’s-looking flower arrangement that makes everything you use it in look like something from an old Betty Crocker cookbook.” (Yep, that’s true. And we always get a good laugh out of that one!)
What is the weirdest thing you have seen your spouse do for a blog post? “It wasn’t for a blog post, but that time you gussied up a bowl of Top Ramen soup, took a picture of it, and passed it off as something gourmet.”
If you could have your own blog what would you call it? “I’m not sure what I would call it, but it would be about Health and Fitness.” (Yeah, I feel even more guilty now about that post for my Killer Peanut Butter Cake!)
What do you do for a living and what are your hobbies? “I’m a physician. Top hobbies include spending time with my family, car maintenance, playing guitar, road trips, lifting weights, skiing, politics and current events, etc.”
Who does the dishes? (without hesitation) “That would be me.” (He’s telling the truth – and there’s often lots of ’em after a particularly adventures culinary experiment!) Yes, I’m pretty crazy about this guy and am so happy we decided to get hitched. I love you, Todd!
And now for the recipe!
I gotta tell you, I would have made something just a wee bit less feminine for this dedicatory post except for one thing: I’m in the middle of the Deep South on a family vacation and this is the only recipe I already had saved on my computer and have access to! But while it isn’t exactly the most “masculine” recipe in the world, my husband loves this cake, so for that reason it’s fitting enough. Right? Right!
I love lavender, don’t you? Such a pretty flower, such a wonderful aroma, so many amazing uses. Plus, it reminds me of England and that association is a plus. My husband and I both love England. He spent two years in Liverpool, Manchester and Wales. I lived 6 years about an hour from Norfolk, England where the famous lavender fields are. My mom and I would often take a leisurely drive up to Norfolk Lavender, walk through the aromatic lavender gardens, and visit the shop to sample their goodies. So lavender holds an element of nostalgia for me and it made this cake all the more enjoyable.
While this cake is quite easy to make, its a dessert fit for the most elegant of tea rooms. Made with very little flour, it relies on satiny whipped egg whites and ground almonds to provide its wonderful texture and “lift.”
No fancy assembling or decorating required. The pretty lavender-colored hue of the glaze sprinkled with lavender blossoms gives this cake class and elegance. Lay a few fresh or dried sprigs of lavender next to it, and the presentation is complete.
For this recipe you can use dried lavender flowers from your own garden (lavender is so easy to dry and store) or you can purchase some from a specialty shop or online.
Let’s get started!
Because this is a light-colored cake, we need to use blanched almonds – skins removed. There is no comparison to freshly ground almonds for flavor. Pre-ground almonds from the store just lack flavor. Plus the texture of freshly ground almonds in this cake is superior. However, you can substitute pre-ground blanched almond meal if you prefer.
Almonds are easy to blanch yourself. Just boil some water and immerse the whole almonds, remove from the heat, and let them sit in the water for 30 seconds or so. This will loosen the skins so you can slip the almonds right out of them.
Remove the skins from the almonds and lay them out on a plate to dry for at least 4-6 hours or overnight. It’s okay if they’re a tiny bit moist when you grind them, but you don’t want them wet.
Grind the almonds with 1/4 cup of the sugar in a coffee/spice grinder or food processor.
Combine the remaining sugar with the butter in a mixing bowl.
Cream the butter and sugar, then add the egg yolk and beat until combined. (I’m not sure why I only added one yolk for the picture, but there are 3 yolks in this recipe.)
Add the lemon zest and vanilla extract and beat until combined.
In a separate, clean bowl with no trace of oil in it, beat the egg whites until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and continue to beat until satiny and stiff peaks form. (It definitely looks like I need new beaters!)
The egg whites are ready when you pull the beaters out and a stiff peak forms and curls over just at the tip.
In a separate bowl, sift the cake flour with the baking powder.
Stir the ground almonds into the batter mixture.
Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in 1/3 of the egg whites.
Then gently fold in 1/3 of the flour mixture. Repeat with the remaining egg whites and flour, being careful not to over-stir.
Grease an 8×8 inch square baking pan. I use and LOVE Magic Line pans. Made in the USA with hand-forged aluminum.
In a preheated oven at 350 degrees F, bake for about 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove the cake from the oven and let sit for 10 minutes.
While the cake is sitting, make the glaze: To make the glaze: Combine the lemon juice and lavender flowers in a small saucepan or microwaveable dish, bring to a boil, remove and let steep for at least 5 minutes. Use a mesh sieve to remove the lavender flowers.
Carefully invert the cake and the place top side up on a cake platter. Poke some small holes around the top of the cake with a toothpick to allow the glaze to fully absorb.
Combine the lemon lavender mixture with the powdered sugar. Stir until the sugar is dissolved.
Pour the glaze over the cake.
Use a knife to evenly spread it.
While the glaze is still wet, sprinkle a few lavender flowers over it. Let the cake sit until the glaze has set, at least 15 minutes.
- ½ cup butter, at room temperature
- ¾ cup white granulated sugar
- ¾ cup blanched almonds (grinding the almonds yourself yields a superior flavor and texture. However you can substitute 1 cup pre-ground blanched almond meal.)
- 3 egg yolks
- 3 egg whites
- ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon almond extract
- 2 teaspoons lemon zest
- ½ cup cake flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- Lavender Lemon Glaze:
- 2½ tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons dried lavender flowers
- Boil this together, let steep 5 min. and then cool.
- Then stir in 1 cup powdered sugar.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 8×8 inch square pan.
- To blanch the almonds, pour boiling water over them to cover. Let them sit for about 5 minutes or until the peels slip off easily. Discard the peels and let the almonds air dry for a few hours. Grind the almonds with ¼ of the sugar.
- Cream the butter and ½ cup of sugar until light and fluffy, about 4-5 minutes. Add the egg yolks one at a time, beating until the mixture is pale and fluffy, another 3-4 minutes. Add the vanilla, almond extract, and lemon zest and beat just until combined. Fold in the ground almond mixture.
- Beat the egg whites in a clean, dry bowl on medium high speed until foamy, then add the cream of tartar. Continue to beat until stiff peaks form.
- Sift the cake flour and baking powder into a small bowl.
- Fold in ⅓ of the egg whites, then ⅓ of the flour mixture. Repeat with the remaining egg whites and flour. Be very careful not to over-stir.
- Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan.
- Bake for about 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Be careful not to over-bake.
- Remove the cake from the oven and let sit for 10 minutes. Carefully invert the cake and the place top side up on a cake platter.
- Poke some small holes around the top of the cake with a toothpick to allow the glaze to fully absorb.
- To make the glaze: Combine the lemon juice and lavender flours in a small saucepan or microwaveable dish, bring to a boil, remove and let steep for 5 minutes. Use a mesh sieve to remove the lavender flours.
- Pour the glaze over the cake and let the cake sit for at least 20 minutes before serving.
Come check out these other wonderful Appreciation Posts from my blogging friends: