Croatia has to be the most beautiful place that I have been to – I spent some time in Dubrovnik once and I can honestly say I have never been anywhere quite like it. The sea, mountains, islands, old city – what more can you ask for?
This cake had a lot to live up to then. Not only did it have to be delicious, but also look good – challenge accepted! Lavender is a key export of Croatia, and is heavily cultivated on the island of Hvar. I love the taste of lavender, and so it was a no-brainer that I would incorporate this flavour into this dessert. I added the flavours of orange and almond to this, in homage to the orange trees full of fruit which were evident all over Dubrovnik.
The cake is topped with an orange buttercream and decorated with dehydrated orange flowers and soft gold pearls. The technique used for the orange flowers is the same as that of the pineapple flowers used in the Nyamanku Cake – however they take far longer to dry out, due to the higher water content of the slices. Be patient – the result is worth it!
Orange, Almond and Lavender Cake
- 8oz butter
- 8oz caster sugar
- 4oz flour
- 4oz ground almonds
- 3 tsp baking powder
- zest of one orange, finely grated
- 5 tsp lavender (ensure this is edible and has not been adulterated with essential oils!)
- 125g icing sugar
- 40g butter
- zest of 1 orange
- 10ml orange juice
- 1 orange
- 2 tsp lavender flowers.
Preheat the oven to gas mark 5 and grease a 6in round cake tin. Beat together the butter, sugar, flour, eggs, baking powder and ground almonds until well combined. Stir in the lavender flowers and orange zest and pour into the tin. Bake for 50 minutes until golden brown and firm to the touch. leave to cool in the tin for 5 minutes before removing and leaving to cool on a cake rack.
Turn the oven down to gas mark 1 and line a baking sheet with baking parchment. Thinly slice the orange and place in the oven to dry out, turning occasionally. This will take about 2 hours, but check as necessary. Remove from the oven and place into mini muffin tins to air-dry completely.
Make the buttercream by beating the butter and icing sugar until thick and fluffy – it will take about five minutes! Beat in the orange juice and zest to form a thick consistency. Spread over the cake and use a palate knife to smooth the edges and create a nice finish. decorate with the orange slices and the reserved lavender (this is absent on the picture as the wind blew all of mine away – it looked pretty before though!)