That morning we were leaving the beautiful town of Goult in Provence and heading Drôme. And just before leaving Provence, in the middle of countryside, we could see them… endless fields of lavender. And at the same time, my friend Tanja and I sighed and said: Finally!
Ever since school, Tanja and I had been fantasising about a perfect trip to France, where we would wander around south France, explore food, places, find a lavender field and, quite literally, immerse ourselves into glorious, purple sea of scents. And finally we were there. Doing exactly what we wanted for years. We had visited Provence before many times, but never together. In July this year, we had just over a week over there and lavender was blooming in full swing.
So the cake that’s making its debut today is my hommage to our summer in France. When we finally reached those fields, that landscape will stay with me for a long time… In Visan, the vineyards that were surrounding the lavender, bees buzzing while meticulously harvesting lavender pollen and scattered cherry (our favourite fruit) and almond trees everywhere. A feast for senses…
The cake is trying to emulate the feelings and the scents of that moment. It’s a almond and yogurt lavender cake, light and aromatic, layered to hint on the french tricolour and topped with what for me is summer in Provence – cherries, lavender and honey.
Our final destination was Lyon though – la capitale gastronomique of Europe ( and it deserves a separate post). So it made sense to start the journey in the south and work our way up to Lyon. We flew into Marseille from London on a gorgeous saturday morning and immediately started exploring towns and markets of Provence. You can see all the places we visited on this map.
The markets in Lourmarin and Apt were especially fruitful – we didn’t know what to taste first and ended up trying all local produce! Cheese, dips, pâtés, breads, everything had that provencal note. We ended up buying a lot but more importanly we returned from this trip full of ideas for new recipes and feasts.
Last weekend my very good friend Sean came over so we could work on food photography together. He was preparing a tutorial video on how to take no-fuss, yet great photos of food in your home, that will be online soon. The photos in this post came out of that workshop – thank you Sean!
Cooking that day for the shoot was such a pleasure and all the recipes were inspired by this trip in France; so there are quite a few posts coming! I did a lovely vegetarian barbecue, with many sides, dips and pâtés all inspired by the markets in Luberon, Provence. But the star of the day was definitely La Visanaise cake.
Hope you’ll love it as much as we did!
- FOR ONE LAYER/ SPONGE
- 200gr ground almonds
- (save 1 tbsp for the pan)
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup greek yogurt
- 1/3 cup honey/ agave nectar
- 1 tsp olive oil
- lemon zest of half lemon
- 1 tsp L'eau de fleur d'oranger
- 1/2 tsp lavender flowers
- THE FILLING
- 300 gr mascarpone
- 3 tbsp honey/ agave nectar
- 1 cup blueberries
- 2 cups raspberries
- (feel free to improvise with berries)
- 1 cup quark
- 1 tbsp agave nectar
- lavender sprigs
- Preheat the oven to 180°C. In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients for the sponge (ground almonds, baking powder and sea salt). In a separate bowl, combine the wet ingredients; whisk yogurt and honey first, then add eggs, lemon zest, olive oil, lavender and (if using) orange blossom water. Slowly fold in the wet ingredients into the dry mixture.
- Grease 8-9 inch cake pan with a little olive oil thoroughly and 'dust' with the ground almonds you saved. Transfer the batter into the pan and spread it evenly. You can use a spatula or just gently shake the pan to even the top surface. Bake for around 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let it cool while making the other two layers.
- When the layers have cooled down, prepare the filling by whisking together mascarpone and honey until it's airy and fluffy. Using a serrated knife (a bread knife will do) cut the sponges' tops (domes) off so they are even on both surfaces. Place the bottom later on a tray, apply the filling and lay the blueberries out in an even layer. Using a cake lifter (or similar) place the second layer on top of the bottom one. It is important to use it here as the sponge is rather moist and it might break otherwise. Repeat the filling&berries step here again. Place the top layer on top, upside down.
- Prepare the 'icing' by mixing quark and honey/ agave nectar. Using a spatula, top your cake with the quark mix and decorate with cherries and lavender. Refrigerate it for a couple of hours before serving.
Here’s a little playlist that we listened to while cooking, taking photos, filming, and… eating. Recommended setting: get the barbecue going on a sunny afternoon, surround yourself with family and/ or mates; cook, dance, laugh and enjoy!