Early in May as I was shopping at our local Costco store I saw a display of beautiful lavender plants and the fragrance was so wonderful! Immediately, I knew just where I wanted to plant this beauty……in a large pot on my back deck! Now I just hope I can keep it alive and beautiful.
When I first saw this plant I began thinking scones with lavender, shortbread cookies with lavender, lavender cake…. and that was another incentive to convince me to buy it. After toting it to my car and spilling dirt on the back seat floorboard carpeting, I managed to get it home without any damage and planted it in a large pot just where I had imagined it to be. Perfect!
Later, when reading the instructions and care label on the plant, I saw in very tiny print at the bottom was the notation: “Not for culinary use”. Bummer! Now my head was all geared up to use the dried lavender buds in something delicious. So I went online and ordered some organic culinary lavender buds from Keys Creek Lavender Farm in Valley Center, CA and organic culinary lavender oil from Olive Nation from Amazon to assuage my disappointment.
I am not the cake baker in the family as that award goes to Dahn but every now and then I will do my bit with a cake from scratch. This particular recipe, tender white cake, is from the King Arthur Flour website with my adaptation of the lavender buds and lavender oil.
In July there will be a Lavender Festival in Sequin, Washington, which is about one and one-half hours from our house and I am looking forward to going to see the lavender fields. But for now this is my lavender contribution.
I have to tell you, though, that this was a total experiment as I had to determine how much lavender would be enough but not too much. I have had lavender cookies where the lavender was so faint that I wondered why they bothered, but too much and it can be overpowering. So it took a couple attempts for me to discover the amount of flavoring I wanted. One word of caution, the oil is very powerful and my first attempt I thought I was being very conservative…. it was a total failure. I was determined to get this right though and as the oil was not equipped with a dropper I purchased one from the pharmacy and this is the result of my third cake.
This cake makes me happy and I love the light floral flavor and the cream cheese icing has just enough lavender oil for a light flavoring and compliments the cake deliciously. It would be fun to get my lady friends together and do a little English Tea party with some fancy sandwiches, tea/coffee and serve this cake for dessert. Just thinking…:)
- 2-3/4 cups cake flour
- 1-2/3 cups sugar, superfine is best
- 1 Tablespoon baking powder
- ¾ teaspoon sea salt
- ¾ cup butter, softened
- 4 large egg whites, plus 1 whole large egg
- 1 cup whole milk
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2-10 drops lavender oil (see Notes)
- 2 teaspoon, dried, culinary lavender buds, pulverized in a pestle or ground in a spice mill
- 1 cup of butter (2 sticks), room temperature
- 16 oz of cream cheese (2 packages), room temperature
- 5 - 6 cups of powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- 2-5 drops of culinary lavender oil (or to preferred taste-see Notes)
- Preheat the oven to 350°F
- Prepare two 9”x2” round pans by lining them with parchment paper and then spray the paper with non-stick spray.
- Mix the dry ingredients on slow speed for 2 minutes to blend. Add the soft butter and mix until evenly crumbly, it should resemble damp sand.
- Add the egg whites one at a time, then add the whole egg, beating well after each addition to begin building the structure of the cake. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with each egg addition.
- In a small bowl, whisk the milk with the vanilla and the lavender oil (see Notes). Add this mix ⅓ at a time, to the batter. Beat 1 to 2 minutes after each addition, until fluffy. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Remove the bowl from the mixer and fold the crushed lavender buds into the batter.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and cool completely on a wire rack.
- With an electric mixer, and using the paddle attachment, not the whisk, mix the butter and cream cheese together, about 3 minutes on medium speed until very smooth. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl to ensure even mixing.
- Add the vanilla extract and mix. Slowly add the powdered sugar. Keep adding until you get to desired sweetness and thickness. With the mixer on the slow speed, carefully add one drop of the oil at a time and mix well. Taste for flavor and add more oil a drop at a time to get the desired taste.
- Spread icing on the cooled cake and refrigerate until serving.