- For the lemon-and-lavender sponge:
- 255 g Greek or double-cream yoghurt
- 3 T plus 1 t lemon juice
- 1 lemon, zested
- 3 free-range eggs
- 220 g caster sugar
- 1⁄2 t vanilla paste or extract
- 2 t baking powder
- 1/4 t salt
- 2 T fresh edible lavender buds, washed and finely chopped
- 6 T olive oil
- For the lemon-and-lavender syrup:
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 50 g sugar
- 1 T plus 2 t water
- 2 lavender stalks with leaves
- For the lemongrass-and-raspberry custard (optional):
- 2 lemongrass stalks
- 1 cup cream
- 1 cup full-cream milk
- 100 g frozen raspberries, thawed
- 1/2 t cornflour
- 1 T caster sugar
- 1 T plus 2 t water
- 8 free-range egg yolks
- 100 g caster sugar
- 1/2 t vanilla extract
1. To make the sponge, preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease a 21 x 11 cm loaf pan. Set aside.
2. In a large bowl, combine the yoghurt, lemon juice and zest, eggs, sugar and vanilla. Whisk until well blended.
3. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together. Add to the yoghurt mixture in 3 batches, whisking until smooth after each addition. Add the lavender and mix.
4. Fold in the olive oil until combined.
5. Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 45–55 minutes, or until golden and firm to the touch and a skewer comes out clean.
6. Cool for 10 minutes before soaking with the syrup.
7. To make the syrup, bring all the ingredients except the lavender to a boil and cook until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat and add the lavender stalks and leaves. Cover and allow to infuse for 20 minutes. Strain and set aside. Once the cake is lukewarm, pour over the syrup and allow to absorb completely.
8. To make the lemongrass-and-raspberry custard, crush the lemongrass with the flat end of a knife to release the aroma, then chop roughly. Bring the cream and milk to a light boil in a medium saucepan. Remove from the heat and add the chopped lemongrass. Cover tightly with clingfilm and allow
to infuse for 40 minutes.
9. Place the raspberries, cornflour, 1 T caster sugar and water into a small saucepan. Stir until it comes to a boil. Cook for a further 2 minutes, stirring continually, then remove from the heat. Strain, mix, then set aside.
10. Strain the lemongrass-infused liquid and return to the saucepan, then scald. Meanwhile, whisk together the egg yolks, remaining sugar and vanilla until well combined. Temper the eggs by adding half the warm lemongrass-infused liquid, whisking continually as you pour to prevent the mixture from curdling. Pour the tempered mixture back into the saucepan and cook over a medium-low heat stirring continually with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon. When it coats the back of the spoon without running, it is ready. Remove from the heat, transfer to a bowl and place a sheet of clingfilm directly onto the custard to prevent a skin from forming and allow to cool. Once cool, remove the film and mix in the raspberry sauce. Serve with the cake.
Cook's note: “I come from a huge extended family in Uitenhage. Almost every Christmas we all come together and each person is in charge of a dish. I usually make a lemon cake with home- made custard, but this Christmas they are in for something a bit different. The idea for this recipe comes from working under executive chefs Ryan Harris and Luigi Vespero from Galvin Bistro and Bar (now closed), in Dubai. They always pushed the flavour envelope in fine dining." - Thabisa Madlakana, pastry chef, Marble.