Buttermilk Cake with Lavender and Strawberries

Last week I went to pudding and pasta party. That’s right, that’s a thing. Exactly why I went to this gathering is as follows:

A couple of weeks ago Bristol women’s water polo completed their round robin of the uni teams in the south and finished top of the division. In doing so, we also qualified for BUCS semi-finals, which are this weekend in Sheffield.

Between now and then, everyone has been doing their own thing. We’ve all had deadlines, work, exams, and the only time we really had together as a team was in the water.

The way that our training works, means that our main session occurs exactly the morning before every Wednesday night social. This means that we hardly ever go out as a team, because hardly anyone can face 6am swim sets on a hangover, and so we never really spend much time together out of the water.

When we thought about this, we decided that we were missing out on team bonding, and that this wasn’t really doing us any favours.

With semi’s coming up we all agreed that we needed some ‘team time’ to ensure that we were all on the same page, and so that the weekend, no matter how it panned out, would be enjoyable and fun. This is where the pudding and pasta party came in.

Some people brought mini quiches, meats and dips, and others made a blonde red velvet cake (don’t ask) and mini brownie bites. I decided though, that if I was going to take the time to make something, it had to be good … so I made this:

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It’s a buttermilk sponge filled with handmade lavender and strawberry compote and vanilla buttercream, iced with lavender frosting and decorated with strawberries and thistles. 

I follow Sweetapolita on instagram, she’s a ridiculously awesome baker, and this is where I got the idea, and most of the recipe from. Check out her site for the full recipe if you want to recreate this, I won’t include it here as I only made a few changes and I honestly can’t take credit for such an amazing recipe.

I will tell you what I changed however, because it’s always nice to know there are alternatives to tricky methods or ingredients:

So the first thing I did was sub all the lavender and sugar in the lavender compote and frosting for lavender sugar from Sainsbury’s. This combo sounds simple, but it’s a lot easier to use the lavender sugar than source some culinary lavender if you’re a student.

Next for the vanilla filling, I just bought buttercream. This was mainly to speed up the process as I knew I’d be tight for time to put it all together, and also because I didn’t want to buy and then be stuck with left over gelatine.

Finally, I ran out of buttermilk while making the cake. I didn’t think when I picked up the pot, how much I would need. So, because I live so far away from an actual supermarket, and after taste testing it before I poured it all in, I subbed the rest of the buttermilk for Greek yoghurt as it seemed to taste quite similar anyway. It seemed to work, and the cake still tasted delicious, but unless your desperate I think you should probably stick to buttermilk.

Oh, and also, as you can see, I failed at creating a smooth frosting (it’s surprisingly difficult to do!). What I did instead was rough ice the cake and then take a fork and pull and poke the icing upwards, towards the centre, to create that fluffy texture – it looked kind of cool in the end, don’t you think?

Also notice how Sweetapolita used different flowers? I chose thistles because a) they were being sold by a pop-up florist on Park Street and looked really pretty (kind of an impulse buy really), and b) because I’m Scottish, and I, therefore, thought they were highly appropriate, hehe.

It took me a couple of hours to make it all, and I had to bake the sponge the day before as I didn’t have enough time on Thursday to do it all at once. The whole cake took a lot of effort, but because each element was so different and somewhat new to me, the experience of making it ended up being really enjoyable.

I’m not a massive fan of buttercream (strange, I know, but I was baking for other people, and not myself) but the cake seemed to go down well, and I was relieved that I didn’t have to carry much home (when whole, it weighted a ridiculous amount).

Rudimental & Alex Clare, Not giving in feat. John Newman
– A pre-match playlist must have

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