In keeping with the Moroccan theme of the week, (click here to read about my Moroccan inspired outdoor movie night), today’s recipe pays homage to the French influence in Moroccan cooking. Despite the short lived colonization of Morocco, France’s influence on the country’s food remains. And this Apricot Lavender Cake is quintessentially French in flavour.
I’ve adapted the recipe from Yotam Ottolenghi’s cake in his book Plenty More, his is made with walnuts, which I’m allergic too, so I only used almonds. The result is a dense and nutty cake, punctuated by tart apricots and gently floral lavender buds. It’s also the kind of cake that is delicious the next day, if you have any left over!
¾ cup plus 1 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature, diced
2 tbsp olive oil (Ottolenghi’s recipe calls for walnut oil)
1 cup plus 1½ tbsp superfine sugar
1¼ cups ground almonds
4 eggs, beaten
1 cup almonds, freshly blitzed in a food processor to a coarse powder (Ottolenghi’s recipe calls for walnuts)
¾ cup all-purpose flour
½ tsp vanilla extract
grated zest of 1 lemon
1½ tsp picked lavender flowers, fresh or dry
15 apricots, halved and pitted
6 tbsp confectioners’ sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice
Preheat the oven to 375ºF/190ºC.
Place the butter, oil, superfine sugar and almonds in a stand mixer and beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Add the eggs in small additions and continue to beat until well incorporated. Fold in the walnuts, flour, vanilla, lemon zest, 1 teaspoon of the lavender and ⅛ teaspoon salt.
Line the base and sides of a 9-inch/23-cm cake pan with parchment paper. Pour in cake batter and level the top. Arrange the apricot halves, skin side down and slightly overlapping, over the top, right to the edge. Bake in the oven for 70 to 80 minutes, covering with aluminum foil if the top starts to brown too much.
While the cake is baking, make the icing. Whisk together the confectioners’ sugar and lemon juice to get a light, pourable icing, adjusting the amount of sugar or juice if needed. As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, brush the icing on top. Sprinkle the remaining ½ teaspoon lavender over the top and leave the cake to cool before serving.