Rachel Allen was brought up in Dublin and left home at eighteen to study at the world-famous Ballymaloe Cookery School. Rachel is now a busy ...
butter, for greasing
125 g (4.5oz) plain flour, plus extra for dusting
pinch of salt
175 g (6oz) caster sugar
1/2 tsp cream of tartar, sifted
8 egg whites (250ml/9fl oz)
2 tsp vanilla extract
23cm (9in) diameter cake tin with 6cm
1/4 tsp lavender essence
1–2 tbsp boiling water
250 g (9oz) icing sugar, sifted
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F/Gas 4). Butter the sides of the cake tin and dust with flour, then line the base with a disc of baking parchment.
Sift the flour and salt into a bowl and mix in 150g (5oz) of the caster sugar. In a separate bowl, mix together the remaining sugar with the cream of tartar.
Tip the egg whites into a large, spotlessly clean bowl or in an electric food mixer. Using a hand-held electric beater or the food mixer, whisk the egg whites for about 20 seconds or until they begin to turn cloudy and frothy.
With the beater or mixer still running, add the mixed sugar and cream of tartar then continue to whisk until the mixture is glossy and forms stiff peaks.
Carefully fold in the vanilla extract, followed by the dry ingredients, adding these quarters at a time and folding in very lightly, so as not to knock any air out of the mixture.
Tip the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 20–28 minutes or until golden on top and a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tin for 15 minutes. Using a small, sharp knife to loosen the edges, carefully remove the cake from the tin and leave on a wire rack to finish cooling before transferring to a plate to serve.
While the cake is cooling, make the icing. In a small bowl, mix together the lavender essence with 1 tablespoon of boiling water.
Sift the icing sugar into a separate bowl, then add the lavender mixture and stir together until well mixed and runny enough for drizzling – add a few more drops of hot water if it seems too stiff.
Use a spoon to drizzle all over the cake in a zigzag pattern, and scatter with the lavender flowers.