I often feel lethargic and disinterested when it comes to the daily drudge of what to put on the table each evening for dinner. It’s not always the cooking that I lose interest in, although I do have days when I struggle to find the will, but rather the constant decision making of what meals to plan day in, day out. And when I’m asked, as the plates are being cleared from one meal, what we are having for the next I’m ready to give the whole thing away – or drop the dirty plates on the head of the inquirer (and he knows who he is). However, when we are away on vacations and indulging in meals that someone else has planned, prepared and put in front of me I frequently find myself dreaming about all the wonderful things I intend to cook when I get back to my kitchen – contrary of me, I know.
For some reason cake has been on my mind quite a lot of late and I decided, somewhere in Morocco during this last most recent vacation, that there should be more of it in my life. I love to bake – it is such a thoroughly satisfying pastime and completely fulfilling, not to mention just filling. I came up with a plan to bake a cake a week – not overly ambitious, I think. Planning a cake a week gives me plenty of time between bakes to find the next inspiration and also spaces them out enough to hold diabetes and hideous hip enhancement at bay (a bit). Now, I’m not promising anything as I know life can get in the way of my best laid plans, but that’s what I’m aiming for and it’s only fair that I share the cake love, so you can expect things to take something of a sweet turn on this blog.
I suspect one of my problems will be diversifying my repertoire as I’m a slave to chocolate and it could become over-represented (especially as I intend to class brownies as cake for the sake of this exercise) but I’ll make every effort to broaden my selection. Another problem in the next few months is likely to be the weather. Adelaide is suffering through another heatwave at the moment and when it is over 40C outside I’m a bit reluctant to put the oven on in my un-airconditioned kitchen, but fortunately I baked earlier this week before the heat set in.
This recipe for a Lavender Lemon Syrup Cake is a riff on an old standby of mine. The original recipe was given to me many years ago by my much-loved, late mother-in-law from my first marriage and has never failed me. It is very simple and basic – the kind of recipe every good cook will have up her sleeves – and if baked in the smaller loaf tins will make two cakes, one of which can be frozen for any later cake emergency. I baked it in a larger loaf tin, so extended the cooking time by 15 minutes – but do check with a skewer to make sure it is done if you are using the bigger tin.
Lavender and Lemon Syrup Cake
- 2 cups plain flour
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- pinch of salt
- 125 gms butter
- 1 cup caster sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1/3 cup milk
- 2 tsp grated lemon rind
- 1 1/2 tsp culinary lavender
- 1/3 cup lemon juice
- 1/3 cup of sugar
- Grease and line 2 small loaf pans and preheat oven to 160C (350F).
- Sift flour, baking powder and salt together and set aside.
- Using a stand mixer or hand beaters cream butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy.
- Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
- At low speed, beat in flour alternatively with milk mixing until combined.
- Stir in lemon rind and lavender.
- Pour into pans and bake for 45 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the centre comes out clean.
- While cake is cooking, prepare the syrup.
- Combine the lemon juice and sugar in a small pan over medium heat for 1-2 minutes, until syrupy. Allow to cool for 10 minutes.
- When cakes are removed from the oven and still hot, pierce them at regular spaces with a skewer, then pour the syrup over very slowly - allowing it to soak in.
- Cool in pans for 10-15 minutes, then remove and place on wire rack to cool completely.