I'm not really a Lavender Lover.
Okay, that sounds like a float in the Pride Parade. But the taste of lavender has always reminded me of my granddad's aftershave. Mmmmmm, Old Spice.
On the other hand, how many chocolate cakes can a girl make? No mas!
So, inspired by this gorgeous Strawberry Lavender Buttermilk Cake from the Sweetapolita blog, I designed my own version. One day I'll actually follow a recipe.
But not today.
This cake isn't difficult, but it does have a few extra steps that can't be skipped. Making the concentrated strawberry puree is tedious, but if you just use pureed berries, your frosting will be thin and flavorless. And you can hardly complain about the extra thirty seconds it takes to infuse the lavender into cream, ya whiner.
12 oz bag frozen strawberries
1 teaspoon of lemon juice
4 whole eggs, room temperature
2 egg yolks, room temperature
1 1/4 cups (300 ml) buttermilk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups (345g) cake flour, sifted
2 cups (400g) granulated sugar
1 tablespoon, plus 1/2 teaspoon (20g) baking powder
1 teaspoon (5g) baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (230g) unsalted butter, cold
Lavender Frosting and Filling
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon dried culinary lavander
2 fresh egg whites
1 teaspoon dried egg white powder (optional)
1/3 cup light corn syrup (100g)
3 tablespoons strawberry puree
pinch of table salt
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups powdered sugar (260g)
purple gel coloring (optional)
1 1/2 cups strawberries, sliced 1/4" thick
(adapted from The Cake Bible, by Rose Levy Beranbaum)
- Defrost the strawberries completely, then rough chop them. Take care not to puree them, since you want to strain out the juice without allowing chunks of strawberry through.
- Place the berry bits in a fine-mesh strainer over a small saucepan, and use the flat bottom of a spoon or gravy ladle to push out the juice. This is a major pain in the neck, which will take about ten minutes. Sorry about that.
- When you've extracted as much juice as possible, put the mashed berries aside and heat the saucepan over a medium flame. Reduce the juice by 3/4, until it is a bright-red syrup. If you feel inclined to skim the foam, knock yourself out. (I never feel so inclined.)
- Add the fruit and lemon juice back to the reduced syrup, then puree with a stick or upright blender. Makes about 2/3 cup.
(adapted from the Sweetapolita Blog)
- Preheat the oven to 350° F (325° convection). In a measuring cup with a spout, lightly whisk the eggs, yolks, 1/4 cup of the buttermilk, and the vanilla.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. With the mixer set to low speed, add the cold butter half a tablespoon at a time, mixing for a few seconds after each addition. Continue mixing on low speed until all of the butter has been blended and the mixture has the texture of cornmeal.
- Add the remaining buttermilk to the dry ingredients, and mix on medium speed for 4 minutes. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to ensure all of the ingredients are well incorporated. Reduce the speed to low and gradually add the egg mixture, then increase speed to medium and beat for 1 minute. Gently scrape the sides again and fold in any stray un-mixed ingredients.
- Spray-flour three 8" or 9" cake pans, then divide the batter evenly between them. Bake for approximately 30 minutes, rotating the pans occasionally to ensure even cooking. Try to pull the cakes out at that magical moment when they are set in the middle, but haven't pulled away from the sides of the pan yet. If you miss, don't sweat it.
- Rest cakes for five minutes before inverting to cool on a rack.
Lavender Frosting and Filling
- In a glass bowl, microwave the cream with the lavender for 20 seconds on high. Set aside to steep while preparing the frosting.
- Using the mixer's whisk attachment, beat the egg whites, egg white powder, and salt on medium speed until frothy. Add two tablespoons of the sugar and kick the mixer up to high, beating until soft peaks form.
- Meanwhile, stir the remaining sugar and corn syrup in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil for a full minute, then remove from the stove. In several additions, pour the hot sugar syrup into the meringue, beating after every addition.
- When all the syrup is in, turn the mixer to medium-high and beat for several minutes until the bowl cools to room temperature. One tablespoon at a time, add the soft butter to the meringue, beating well after each addition.
- Beat in one cup of powdered sugar to stiffen the mixture. Strain the lavender cream to remove the herbs, then add it to the frosting with the vanilla, salt, and strawberry puree. Beat in the wet ingredients, then finish with the remaining cup of powdered sugar.
- If using gel coloring, beat in a few drops now to achieve your desired hue.
- Trim cakes to make the tops level.
- Cover the bottom cake with a layer of strawberries, then spread approximately 1/2 cup of frosting over. Repeat with middle cake, then cover with top cake.
- Apply a thin crumb coat of frosting over cakes, filling in the space between layers and poking in any escaping berries. Refrigerate for at least 20 minutes to allow the frosting to set up.
- When cake is slightly hardened, apply a smooth coat of frosting and any decorations. Store in the fridge and eat within two days.