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.