Fill-in-the-blank cake

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When we first moved down here, we brought along with us two scraggly little lavender plants. They were so small and insignificant that we planted them together, side by side, in front of the house. Four years later, they have cascaded down the hill, a formidable hedge of silver and purple. Ali doesn’t like to make wide paths, and with the lavender asserting itself in spite of being cut back rather severely, we now have to lean into it in order to walk down the path into the garden. This results in heady perfume, and finally my mother came to the only possible conclusion — we had to make a lavender cake.

I was going through a moment of butter fatigue, so we found an olive oil cake recipe on Saveur magazine’s website and adapted it to our needs. I used a souffle dish with a ceramic cup in the middle, but a bundt pan would also be fine.

Fill-in-the-blank cake

You will need:

butter and  flour for cake pan

3 c. flour

4 eggs

3/4 c olive oil

2/3 c milk

1 T baking powder

2 T lavender, stemmed and finely chopped

Heat your oven to 325 F. Butter and flour your cake pan. If you are using a cup, butter the outside of that as well.

Beat the eggs and sugar until pale yellow, about 1 minute. Add the flour, oil, milk, and lavender and stir to mix. Add the baking powder and mix again.

Pour into your pan, with a finger on the cup to keep it from shifting (and use a heavy cup — I tried with a stainless steel one and it wandered during the baking).

Bake about 40 minutes.

It’s a lovely cake that really tastes like lavender through and through. It’s a bit on the dry side, not a gooey thing, so it’s just right with a nice cup of tea.

I call it fill in the blank cake because it converts very handily into any kind of cake you like. I will be posting some variations in weeks to come, in which I have used this cake to recycle some by-products of making beverages!