A couple of weeks ago three of us ate at FoodBar, a new to us restaurant. It has actually been open for a year but we were just getting around to trying it. We do eat out more often than we should but most of the time we save a restaurant like this for a more special occasion. This time, though, we were just going out for our regular Friday night meal and instead of "just dinner" we fell into a food well of deliciousness.
We went all out, starting with Mushroom Stuffed Quail over Braised Turnip Greens, and a Tomato Stack which was 4 thick slices of garden ripe heirloom tomatoes and 2 thick slices of fried green tomatoes. I can't begin to tell you which I preferred. They were just different types of delectable tastes that really did set the bar high for the entrees.
We decided to get 3 different meals so we could each share a bite and sample their different flavors. As luck or choice would have it we each ordered a fish dish, but we did get 3 different kinds of fish. TheHub had Tuna Steak, I ordered Pan Seared Catfish over Succotash and Son2 had Snapper. All were really sumptuous but the tuna won the taste test hands down.
After dinner drinks and dessert finished us off. The guys both had small individual apple pies ( about the size of a single serving frozen pot pie) with a beautiful lattice crust. They looked fantastic, but I am not a fan of cooked fruit so I chose the Lavender Pound Cake. I thought it was so good that 2 days later I was trying to recreate the flavors of the cake. This is the result of that attempt.
Lavender Pound Cake with Blueberry Lavender Sauce
Preheat oven to 325 degrees
2/3 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon food grade lavender buds
1 1/2 cup sugar
2/3 cup butter
2 cups sifted flour ( I used all purpose but next time I will use cake flour)
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup water
1 1/2 tablespoons food grade lavender buds
1/2 cup blueberries
1/3 cup sugar
For the cake: Pour buttermilk into a glass and stir in the lavender buds ( be sure to only use food grade lavender, not those for sachets or crafting). Let the milk hang out and steep for about 45 minutes. Using a sieve strain out all the lavender buds. Set aside
Cream the butter the add the sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy. Beat in the 2 eggs until it is light colored and creamy. In a small bowl blend the flour, baking powder and salt to thoroughly combine.
Pour the vanilla into the lavender flavored buttermilk. Add 1/2 of the flour mixture to the butter mix. Beat in to lightly blend then add 1/2 of the milk mixture. Blend then add the last half of the flour mix and mix it together. End with the remaining milk and beat until it is well blended.
Pour into a well greased and floured loaf pan and bake for 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours or until a tester inserted into the middle comes out clean. ( I use an uncooked spaghetti noodle) Remove from the oven and set on a cooling rack for about 10 minutes. Then invert the cake on a wooden board, then invert the wooden board over a serving platter. Let the cake cool completely. ( Next time I will have some lavender flavored sugar* made ahead of time to sprinkle on the top of the warm cake). Slice and serve with the blueberry lavender sauce. (Though I didn't do it this way, next time I will add a dollop of whipped cream when I serve it)
For the sauce: Put the lavender buds ( again use only food grade) in the water and bring to a boil. When the water boils turn it off and let it steep for about 20 minutes. Turn it back on and boil until the water reduces by half. Strain the lavender from the water. Add the blueberries and cook until they begin to pop. Mix in the sugar and cook until it forms a syrup. It is totally your choice how thick or thin to make it. Mine was fairly thick. ( Side note here: If you cook the berry syrup too long at a low heat they will become like glace' berries suitable for only some bizarre fruit cake. I may possibly have cooked mine just a tad too long and learned this unfortunate lesson. Ah the joys of starting over!)
This was really good. The texture was not as light as the FoodBar cake but the taste was very similar. The pound cake had a lovely herb flavor and the complimentary blueberry lavender sauce was outstanding. I used regular all purpose flour, but when I make it again I will use either White Lily flour or cake flour. They both have less gluten and the resulting cake should be a little lighter. I think I would like it better that way. Also next time instead of buttermilk I will probably use kefir. I still have an abundance of it and am looking for any way to use it. ( For the record, dogs love kefir.)
I would call this a successful experiment and plan on cooking it again, just not too soon. I think this belongs in the once or twice a year category. It is such an unusual take on a very typical dessert that it really does need to remain special.
* To make lavender sugar simply put lavender buds ( again, use only food grade lavender because the craft type has added oils that smell really good but are not to be consumed) in an air tight container. Pour sugar over it and let it stand for several days. I tend to shake whatever flavored sugar I am making on a daily basis. I have no earthly idea if it does any good or not, but I shake it up just the same. To use just sieve to separate the buds from the sugar crystals.