A cozy English village, a baking contest…and Murder!
I can remember a time when I baked for fun. I loved dreaming up new recipes, trying different combinations of flavors. Sharing my creations with friends and family.
Now? I have nightmares where the TV cameras are on me and I’m baking naked. Or I open my oven and my cake pans are empty. You don’t need to be Freud to figure out I’m freaking out. This week on The Great British Baking Contest could be my last. I am one bad bake away from being waved good-bye.
Sure, I’d get my weekends back, but I’d lose the excitement of being part of a popular reality show, of spending time with the other bakers who’ve become my friends, and, most important, of having time to snoop around Broomewode Hall for secrets about my origins.
When a heated argument breaks out in Broomewode village pub, I put it down to nerves. Until someone winds up dead.
How am I supposed to concentrate on European Bakes when I’m in the middle of a murder investigation?
Poppy’s Lemon and Lavender Bundt Cake
Lavender and Lemon Sponge:
- ½ cup unsalted butter at room temperature
- 1 cup sugar
- 1½ cups flour
- 2 large eggs
- ½ cup buttermilk
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- 1¼ teaspoon dried lavender
- zest of 1 lemon
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
- 1¼ teaspoon of dried lavender buds
- 1 cup of powdered sugar
- 2 teaspoons buttermilk
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
First up, you’re going to need to get that oven preheated. 325 degrees Fahrenheit should do it.
Butter your Bundt tin and then set aside.
Now on to the good stuff. Combine your sugar and lemon zest in a mixing bowl, mashing the two together with the back of a spoon until the sugar becomes wet and fragrant.
Now it’s time to add that room-temperature butter and cream it with the lemony sugar until you have a fluffy mix. This should take about three minutes if you’re using a good ol’ electric mixer like me.
Once you’re happy with the consistency, add the eggs one at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition.
Now it’s time to get those yummy liquids involved. Combine your buttermilk, vanilla extract, and lemon juice in a measuring cup.
In a separate bowl, sift your flour, baking soda and salt.
Now for the uplifting part of your bake. Take the lavender buds and crush them with the tips of your fingers in the palm of your hand—breathe their scent deeply for the ultimate burst of nature’s relaxant—and then add the crushed buds to your flour mixture.
Put your mixer on a low setting, and then alternately add the flour mixture and the buttermilk mixture, beginning and ending with the flour mixture, in 3 additions.
Pour batter into prepared 6-cup Bundt pan, smoothing the top with the back of a spatula.
Bake for 40-50 minutes. Check for doneness with a toothpick. It’ll be ready when your toothpick comes out clean.
Leave to cool completely. Do not be tempted to try and dip the cake from the Bundt pan early—it will crumble!
While you are patiently waiting for the cake to cool, you can make your glaze. Mix the powdered sugar with buttermilk and fresh lemon juice by hand in a small bowl until the consistency is smooth. Once that sponge is completely cool, you can spoon, or delicately drizzle, the glaze so that it runs along the peaks of the sponge. The more abstract your glaze looks, the better, in my humble opinion. Not to mention that my decoration won Elspeth over too!