Around late Spring, at the Chelsea Flower Show, we usually bake a few rounds of orange and lavender crunch. In essence, this is a pound cake flavoured with orange zest. To give it more moisture and a golden crumb, we’d recommend using golden caster sugar. After baking, the cake is drizzled with an orange and lavender crunch made from orange juice infused with lavender flowers.
With its sweet, fragrant nature, this cake makes the perfect tea cake (broken tea cup not recommended!). A serving of crème fraiche or soured cream on the side makes the perfect partner. If you want to make it a real showstopper, you could decorate it with shards of amber-coloured lavender caramel.
Makes 1 loaf of Orange & Lavender Crunch Cake
Ingredients for loaf:
- 200g Self-raising Flour
- 200g Salted Butter, softened
- 200g Golden Caster Sugar
- Grated zest of 1 Large Unwaxed Orange
- 4 Medium Eggs, lightly beaten
Ingredients for orange and lavender crunch:
- Juice of the Orange (that you used for zest, above)
- 200g Golden Caster Sugar
- 2tsp Dried Lavender (preferably organic), or Fresh Lavender Flowers, when in season
For the lavender caramel shards (optional):
- A little Vegetable or Sunflower Oil, for brushing
- 200g Caster Sugar
- 1tsp of Dried or Fresh Lavender
If you’re using a fan-assisted oven, you will need to reduce the cooking temperatures mentioned here by 20C.
- Heat the oven to 180C. Butter a 900g loaf tin, dust it lightly with flour or line with baking parchment.
- Sift the flour into a bowl and set aside. Using an electric mixer, beat the softened butter with the sugar and orange zest until light and fluffy. Beat in about a quarter of the beaten eggs, then reduce the speed and add 1 tbsp of the flour. Repeat this process until all the egg is mixed in, then gently fold in the remaining flour.
- Transfer the mixture to the tin and bake for 10 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 165C and bake for a further 35 minutes until a skewer or small knife inserted in the centre comes out clean. (If the top is getting too dark before the cake is done, cover it with a sheet of foil.) Leave to cool in the tin for an hour, then turn onto a wire rack.
- To make the orange and lavender crunch, mix the orange juice with the sugar, then add the lavender. You should have a spreadable but not too runny paste — adjust the amount of sugar if necessary. Drizzle the mixture down the middle of the cake, keeping the topping neat or allowing the occasional “leg” to run down the side for a more home-made look.
- If you decide to make the lavender caramel shards, line a baking tray with baking parchment and brush with oil. Put the sugar in a heavy-based pan with 200ml water and heat gently, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Bring to the boil and simmer until it turns into an amber caramel; if you have a sugar thermometer, it should register 147.5C (“hard crack” is the technical term for this stage). Be warned: you are dealing with high temperatures and any contact with the hot caramel will cause severe burns. Do not leave the pan unattended.
- Add the lavender to the caramel, then pick up the pan using oven gloves and pour the caramel into the prepared baking tray. Leave to cool and set. Brush the caramel with oil to prevent it absorbing moisture. Crack into shards by whacking it gently with a wooden spoon. Stud the cake with the shards.
Recipe from Konditor & Cook, by Gerhard Jenne (Ebury Press, £20).