Lavender Lemon Tea Cakes

The lemon cake is history. That’s partly because it was too delicious not to eat and partly because I sent some to my friend Mike. So now we need dessert. While I was looking at recipes for glaze on Sunday, I stumbled across a recipe on Epicurious for lavender lemon tea cake. I love lavender as much as I love lemon, so the only question is why I’m only just noticing they can be combined in a baked good. I got my lavender flowers at the Harvest Co-op in Central Square; most places that sell herbs in bulk carry lavender flowers.

Glazed and decorated cake

Glazed and decorated cake

Brush the glaze onto the cooled cakes; I used two coats. Sprinkle lavender flowers on top for decoration.

You’re supposed to bake this in two loaf pans 8 x 3¾ x 2½ inches. I like those mini loaf pans that I used for the previous lemon cakes, and this recipe will fit in five of those:

8 x 3¾ x 2½ = 75 cu in
5 x 3 x 2 = 30 cu in

75 x 2 = 150 cu in (for two large loaf pans)
150/30 = 5 mini loaf pans

Actually, I really liked the way the little round cakes looked, and if I were doing this for a dessert or a tea or something I’d make those instead. Three of those English muffin rings hold about the same amount of batter as one mini loaf pan. The rings are 3½ inches in diameter and 1 inch deep, so

3.14 x (1.75 x 1.75) = 9.61625

or nearly 10 cubic inches, which is close enough.

As usual, the amounts are given in volumes, so I’ll have to make my best guess about the flour and almonds. I have pulverized almonds from Trader Joe’s (which is what I’m using here) as well as whole almonds, so I measured the whole almonds and weighed them to get the correct amount of pulverized almonds. I get about 2¾ oz for about ¾ cup of whole almonds. As for the flour, I’m finding that in most recipes the flour has probably been measured by the spoon-and-sweep method, which gives about 4½ ounces per cup, so I used 13½ ounces of flour. (King Arthur Flour recipes use the sift-and-sweep method, which gives 4¼ ounces per cup, and David Liebovitz must use the scoop-and-sweep method because he gets 5 ounces per cup.)

Lavender Lemon Tea Cakes
Adapted from the recipe in Epicurious
3 cups (13½ oz) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt (2 tsp Diamond Crystal kosher salt)
¾ cup almonds (2¾ oz almond meal)
1½ cups sugar
Finely grated zest and juice of 2 lemons (⅓ to ½ cup juice) (I got 3½ oz)
½ cup (1 stick, 4 oz) unsalted butter
6 eggs
½ cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons dried lavender flowers (1/8 oz; probably better to just measure) plus another tablespoon or so for decoration

Mise en place, more or less

Mise en place, more or less

Have all the ingredients at room temperature. The creamed butter will break up into little blobs if you add cold ingredients to it.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter and flour two 8 x 3¾ x 2½-inch loaf pans or five 5 x 3 x 2-inch mini loaf pans. (You can also use 14 or 15 3½-inch muffin rings, which you can arrange on parchment-lined sheet pans.) I sprayed my pans with Pam for Baking.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt, and set aside.

If you’re using almonds that are not already pulverized, grind them with 2 T of the sugar in a food processor and set aside. (Grinding the almonds with some sugar keeps the almonds from turning into almond butter.)

Add the sugar (or the rest of the sugar, if you’re grinding almonds) and the lemon zest to the bowl of a stand mixer.

Sugar and lemon zest

Sugar and lemon zest

Rub the lemon zest into the sugar. This helps release some of the oil from the zest.
Sugar and zest rubbed together

Sugar and zest rubbed together

Add the butter. Fit the mixer with the flat paddle. Beat the butter and sugar on medium high for about 3 minutes, or until the mixture is very light and fluffy.
Butter and sugar looking light and fluffy

Butter and sugar looking light and fluffy

Add the eggs one at a time, beating for about 30 seconds after you add each one.
Eggs beaten in

Eggs beaten in

Beat in the lemon juice.
Lemon juice beaten in; this isn't very pretty, is it?

Lemon juice beaten in; this isn't very pretty, is it?

Add half the flour and beat on low speed until it’s incorporated. Add all of the buttermilk and beat on low speed until it’s incorporated. Add the other half of the flour, beating on low speed it’s incorporated. Stir in the ground almonds.
Pulverized almonds folded in

Pulverized almonds folded in

Add the lavender flowers, mixing just until they’re evenly distributed.
That's an excellent color combination.

That's an excellent color combination.

Spoon the batter into the prepared pans and smooth the top of the batter. My batter weighed 49¼ oz. I popped a loaf pan on the scale, zeroed the scale, and weighed in 10 oz and then took out just a smidge to get them all pretty even.
Pans in the oven, ready to bake

Pans in the oven, ready to bake

Bake the cakes for 35 to 40 minutes, until the top is golden brown, the top springs back when you touch it lightly in the center, and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the cakes cool in their pans on a rack for 10 minutes, then turn the cakes out onto the rack to cool completely.
Cakes cooling on a rack

Cakes cooling on a rack

I couldn’t resist glazing these, partly because the glaze is delicious and partly because while it’s wet you can sprinkle on a few more lavender flowers for decoration, and they’ll stick to the glaze.

Crunchy Lemon Glaze
¼ cup lemon juice
¾ cup powdered sugar
¾ cup granulated white sugar

Sift the powdered sugar into a bowl, add the granulated sugar, and whisk until the mixture is homogeneous. Add the lemon juice and whisk until the mixture is homogeneous. It’ll be thick and granular.

Brush the glaze on the cakes, let it set, then brush on another coat. Sprinkle on some lavender flowers for decoration. Allow the cakes to cool completely before you cut them.

The crumb view

The crumb view

I can taste the lavender in this, and it goes well with the lemon. Strangely enough, the cake is good but not all that lemony, so the glaze was a good decision, I think.


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