Apricot, walnut and lavender cakePosted: August 12, 2013 Filed under: Dessert, Fruit, Pastry and Baking, Vegetarian | Tags: Almonds, Apricots, Cake, Chestnuts, lavender, Sugar, Summer, Yotam Ottolenghi 5 Comments
It was love at first sight. And, timing couldn’t have been better. I was just looking for my annual super baking project when I bumped into this recipe. It was so delicious, I will have to bake it again. And again… and again. Never mind the Modern Art Cakes – this the one I want I want for my birthday. Truth to be said, it is not particularly difficult dish. But the flavours, oh!, the flavours…. It were layers upon layers of fresh, summery and nutty flavours, each mouthful different.
Apricot, walnut and lavender cake (adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi’s column in The Guardian)
- 185g unsalted butter, diced and at room temperature
- 2 tbsp walnut oil
- 220g caster sugar
- 120g ground almonds
- 4 medium eggs, beaten
- 120g ground walnuts
- 90g plain flour
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- Grated zest of 1 lemon
- 1½ tsp picked lavender flowers, fresh or dry
- 600g (gross) apricots, halved and stones removed
For the icing
- 50g icing sugar
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
Heat the oven to 170C/335F/gas mark 3. Put the butter, oil, sugar and almonds in the bowl of a mixer and beat on a medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Add the eggs bit by bit, making sure each addition is well incorporated before beginning the next, then fold in the walnuts, flour, vanilla, lemon zest, a teaspoon of lavender flowers and an eighth of a teaspoon of salt.
Line the base and sides of a 23cm cake tin with greaseproof paper. Pour in the cake mix and use a palette knife to level it out. Arrange the apricot halves skin side down and slightly overlapping all over the top of the cake, taking them right to the edge.
Bake for 70-80 minutes – cover with foil if the top starts to brown too much; also, note that when you insert a skewer to test for doneness, it will come out a little sticky because of all the moisture in the apricots.
While the cake is baking, whisk together the icing sugar and lemon juice until you have a light, pourable icing (adjust the amount of sugar or juice slightly, to suit your tastes). As soon as the cake is cooked, remove from the oven and brush the icing all over the top. Sprinkle over the remaining lavender flowers and set aside to cool.
In the Guardian 6/9/14 it said to set the oven at 190 degrees – this seemed a high setting for such a long cooking time. On checking the recipe online it says to set the oven temperature at 170 degrees. As my cake is still in the oven I am hoping it will be okay – I have just turned down the temperature.
How did it go? Was the cake well baked? My oven is really old and I cannot control it too well – I always end up trusting more my thermometer and/or the skewer than temperature/time.
Well, in the end the cake was delicious! Very moist and the flavours really came through. I turned the oven down to closer to 165 degrees after it had been at 190 for a while and cooked it for 70 minutes in total – checking every 10 minutes or so because I was worried about overcooking it. Next time I will cook it at 170 degrees for 70 minutes.
Also I used wholewheat spelt flour and brown sugar instead of castor sugar. Bothe worked very well and I would definitely use them again.
Have now cooked this cake twice and on both occasions it have been almost wet in the middle and charred on the outside having scrupulously followed the recipe and cooking temp and times. What am I doing wrong ?
The peaches on the top cake make it to be a bit tricky to bake. It will be always quite moist in the middle. You might want to lower the temperature for e.g. 170oC and leaving it a bit longer. Do not forget to cover it with a tin foil to avoid being charred. Let me know how it works…