Recipes for Nuit


This is a rich and beautiful cake, decorated with candied lavender for a lovely feminine spring look.

Cake Ingredients:
¼ pound white chocolate, melted
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup buttermilk
4 egg yolks, beaten
1 tablespoon vanilla
2½ cups white whole-wheat flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
4 egg whites, beaten
1 cup granulated sugar

Frosting Ingredients:
¼ pound melted white chocolate
2½ tablespoons white whole-wheat flour
1 cup milk
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract

Lavender Flowers Ingredients:
24 fresh lavender flower heads, no more than 1” long (see Retailer’s List)
1 egg white, beaten
¼ cup powdered sugar

Prepare the candied lavender flowers two days before so they have plenty of time to dry. Pick the flowering heads when they are about 50 percent open, leaving stems about three inches long. Make sure they are clean with no bugs or dead flower buds on them. Use tweezers to clean them. Let them dry out for a couple hours on a paper towel, and then slightly shake them to allow any loose flower heads to fall away.

Whisk the egg white in a small bowl. Using a small watercolor brush apply a thin coating of egg white to all surfaces of each flower head, making sure to brush in-between and around the individual calyxes. Gently tap a spoonful of sugar all around the flower head as the lavender stem is turned with the other hand. Repeat with more sugar to make sure all the surfaces are coated. With several clothespins hang each sugared flower from the stem on a clothes hanger to allow the egg whites and sugar to thoroughly dry. When fully dried, cut off the stems and decorate the top of the cake with just the flowers. Any flowers not used can be stored in an airtight container for future use.

The next day, prepare the cake by first setting up a double boiler to melt the white chocolate. Once melted, cool before adding the sugar, butter, and vanilla. Whisk in the buttermilk and each egg yolk, one at a time, and the baking powder and the flour until blended, set aside.

In a high-sided mixing bowl whip the egg whites to form soft peaks. Slowly add one cup of sugar until it is frothy. Gently fold this mixture into the batter. Prepare two 8” or 9” pans by rubbing butter on the bottom and sides of the pans, put parchment paper in the base of the pans, and flour dust the sides. Pour the batter evenly into the pans and bake in a 350°F (180°C) oven for 45 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Leave the cakes in the pans for an hour until the pan cools. Turn out to completely cool before frosting.

To make the frosting, melt the white chocolate over a double boiler. In a medium saucepan over a medium heat, heat the milk and add the flour and melted white chocolate, but don’t let it boil. Whisk continually so it does not stick to the bottom of the pan until it thickens. Take this off the stove and let it cool, but not harden. In a large mixing bowl beat the soft butter with the sugar and vanilla, and add the white chocolate and milk mixture until combined. Cool completely, but do not chill. It is easier to frost a cake with room-temperature frosting. When ready to frost the cake, place the first cake layer on a serving platter, domed-side down so that a flat top will hold the frosting better. Remove the parchment and use a pastry brush to brush away the extra flour crumbs. Cover with the frosting. Remove the parchment and place the second layer rounded side up. Frost the top and sides of the cake. Decorate with the crystallized lavender flowers.

White chocolate is made from cocoa butter, sugar, and milk solids. The cocoa bean is of fire, combined with the sugar of air and the milk solids of water, and the fact that it is a near liquid when warm make white chocolate water of air of fire. Butter, milk, and buttermilk are of water. Lavender flowers are of air, and vanilla is water of air, while the baking powder and flour are air of earth. Eggs are used in three different ways in this recipe, which keep this cake bright and light. Eggs are a world onto themselves, so now is a good a time as any to describe their world. Egg whites are of water, egg yolks are fire of water, the shell and hard cooked eggs are earth of water, and there is air between the shell and the interior of the egg, protected by a thin membrane, which makes it air of water.