In the Garden of Eden all was well until Eve was tempted by the snake and Adam and Eve bit into that apple. Now Adam could have resisted, it was one of those 'just say no' opportunities, but the apple is a very delicious looking fruit. Adam had it right. An apple is worth almost anything. Now, this can be seen as Gospel truth or a parable or story, but what matters is the apple was eaten.
Vanielje of Vanielje Kitchen is hosting TGRWT #6 (They Go Really Well Together) this month and she chose to challenge bloggers to make something that combines apples and lavender.
I have an apple tree with fruit just waiting to be picked and cooked with, and a couple of lavender plants still driving the bees crazy with blossoms, so this seemed like a natural.
A while back I was given a recipe by someone I barely knew. It was one of those 'secret handshake' kind of recipes, sure to drive a new baker crazy...minimal instructions, comments like 'add nuts and raisins' with no measurements, no pan specified, etc...but it makes a great apple cake. It also seems to be missing an ingredient, which takes the secret thing a bit far. This time around I just used it as a template to begin from since it is so minimal anyway.
This apple cake starts out with browned butter. You could substitute vegetable oil or canola oil, but the browned butter adds amazing flavor. I also used a 1/2 cup brown sugar instead of a full cup of white sugar, although there is still a cup of white sugar. I added 1/2 cup milk, the potential missing ingredient. Next time I think I'll try it with buttermilk. For the nuts I used chopped walnuts since I like the way they go with apples. I also added 1/2 teaspoon baking powder since I wasn't using buttermilk or sour milk. The 2 teaspoons of cinnamon would have drowned out any lavender flavor in the topping, so I only used 1 teaspoon, although I added 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg since I like that spice with apples. As you can see, I've gone a fair distance from the original recipe. Given that, I'm going to print the recipe I used, not the original.
To keep with the event theme, the cake is topped with a glaze that includes honey infused with lavender. I scattered a few flowers over the top, too, for flavor, fragrance, and taste. Apples and lavender do go well together, at least in this lovely apple cake. Sweetie just had a piece and he loved it. Since he generally doesn't like cake, that's saying something. He said he really likes the moistness and he could taste the lavender, but it wasn't too strong.
It's apple season from now well into the fall. Go wild! Make something with apples and lavender...you'll be glad you did.
Natasha’s Apple Cake
½ cup (1 stick) butter
1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup brown sugar, packed
2 eggs, beaten, or the equivalent in egg substitute
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ cup walnuts, chopped
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup milk or buttermilk
4 cups sliced apples ( don’t peel mine, but you could)
1/2 cup mild honey, such as clover
1 tablespoon lavender flowers (fresh if possible)
1) Preheat oven to 350degrees F. Grease and flour a Bundt pan.
2) Take the butter and melt it over low heat in a heavy bottomed pan or cast iron skillet. Once melted, turn up the heat and, stirring constantly, cook until the solids begin to brown a bit. Remove from heat. If brown enough for your taste, pour into a bowl and let cool. If you want it browner, leave in the pan a few minutes to continue cooking, then pour into bowl when desired brown color has been reached.
3) In large bowl mix together the two sugars until well mixed. Add the browned butter and eggs and mix well. Add the vanilla and mix well. Add the walnuts and mix well.
4) On a sheet of waxed paper (or in another bowl) mix together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.
5) Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix just until combined. Add the milk and mix until fully incorporated. Stir in the apple slices.
6) Place cake mixture into the prepared pan, then level top by pushing down on the batter with a spatula and spreading as needed.
7) Bake for 1 hour. Cool in pan on rack 10 minutes, then turn out onto a serving plate with a rim.
8) While cake is baking, in a small saucepan heat the honey over medium heat until liquid. Add the lavender flowers, stir, reduce heat to simmer and simmer for one minute. Strain honey through a fine wire mesh strainer into a bowl. Once the cake is on the serving plate and is still warm, drizzle the lavender honey over the cake until it is all used. Decorate with more lavender if desired.