Gentleman cake with white wine cream

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The lilac is a very popular ornamental plan in gardens and parks, because of its attractive, sweet-smelling flowers, which appear in early summer (rather late spring, in May) just before many of the roses and other summer flowers come into bloom.

During centuries it has been widely naturalized in western and northern Europe.

Lilacs are often considered to symbolize love (see language of flowers). In Greece, Lebanon, and Cyprus, the lilac is strongly associated with Easter time because it flowers around that time; it is consequently called paschalia.

In the poem ” When Lilacs last in the Dooryard Bloom’d”, by Walt Whitman, lilacs are a reference to Abraham Lincoln.

In a sign of its complete naturalization in North America, it has been selected as the state flower of the state of New Hampshire, because it “is symbolic of that hardy character of the men and women of the Granite State”.

Some cultivars

Between 1876 and 1927, the nurseryman Victor Lemoine of Nancy, France introduced over 153 named cultivars, many of which are considered classics and still in commerce today. Lemoine’s “French lilacs” extended the limited color range to include deeper, more saturated hues, and they also introduced double-flowered “sports”, with the stamens replaced by extra petals.

Lilac in the kitchen

I didn’t know that the flowers of the lilacs are edible and even have some medicinal qualities. But eating a single flower raw was a flavor exploding experience with slight astringency (drying to tissues), almost bitter, and very floral.

Medicinal lilac

Medicinal uses are still a gray area when it comes to just the flower. Most resources that I have found (a Modern Herbal) list that the medicinal benefits of Lilac come from the leaves and fruit. Apparently used as a tea or infusion historically it has been used as a anti-periodic. Anti-periodic basically means that it stops the recurrence of disease such as malaria. There has been some studies that indicate a febrifuge action which may help bring down fever.

Lilac flowers have astringent, aromatic, and a little bitter qualities. Astringents tighten, draw, and dry tissues such as skin. So a wonderful application would be a cold or warm infusion to use as a toner on the face. Or using the same method but apply to rashes, cuts, and other skin ailments.

An aromatic action causes irritation to the place that it is touching (think GI tract) and irritation brings blood flow and blood flow equals healing! Eating the flowers raw may help with gastric issues such as flatulence or constipation. Making an herbal infused oil may be a great way to capture the aromatics for healing purposes and to make your own fragrance oil as well as making lilac jelly syrup, wine liqueur, ice cream, or lilac honey. I would say the lilacs are best for garnishes and edible flower displays on pastries rather than whole meals.

One more point of interest. Lilac wood is supposed to be one of the densest in Europe and has been historically used to make musical instruments such as pipes or flutes. We had to cut down one of our lilac shrubs I am sad to say, however we kept all the branches. I will choose one to make a pipe (hopefully one day soon) and will describe the process in another blog post.

Cake for gentleman

From where I got the inspiration to make a cake with lilac flower? From a German magazin, the Wohnen&Garten. In Germany, like all other countries, meeting up for evening coffee and cake and all the chats is usually a lady‘s thing but there is one exception to bring men on such gatherings, and it is the Herrentorte, the Gentleman’s Tart. In German language Herrentorte means “Cake for Gentlemen”. This dessert consists of several individually baked layers of sponge cake and two layers of wine cream so it tastes less sweet than normal cakes. It is an unwritten traditional that in Germany the birthday cake for men is the Herrentorte.

Recipe for the sponge base: 2 goose eggs or 4 normal hen eggs, 160g brown sugar or 150g caster sugar , 150g plain flour, 1 Earl grey tea bag, Lemon curd or marmalade, 300ml double cream, 5 tbsp icing sugar, Juice of half a lemon, Fresh lilac flowers

For the wine cream filling: 180 ml white wine, 120 gr sugar, 200 gr butter, room temperature, 2 egg whites, and some marzipan

Methods: Preheat the oven to 180c 350f

Grease and line two swiss roll tins.

In the bowl of a stand mixer add the eggs and sugar and mix together until pale and thick  (about 5 minutes)

Empty out the contents of an earl grey tea bag and mix with the flour then tip in the flour 1/4 at a time and fold in gently.

Once combined separate between the two tins and tip the trays to spread the mixture to the corners. Don’t spread it out it will knock out the air.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes then tip out onto a sheet of baking paper dusted with icing sugar (i used lilac sugar) or tip onto the work top and gently peel off the paper.

Spread a thick layer or curd or marmalade onto each sponge and sprinkle over some lilac flowers cut into equal strips horizontally rather than diagonally. (As it is marmalade being spread on this can be done while the cake is still hot but if you want to use cream or buttercream then the sponge has to be cool so roll up one strip and let cool in a rolled position then unroll and spread on filling and roll up again).

For the white wine cream: you need the egg whites, 180 ml white wine, 125 gr sugar, 200 gr butter and some marzipan.  Then put everything in a bowl, place over waterbath and stir until it will be creamy.

Start with the first strip and roll up into a tight roll then get the next piece of sponge and place it where the last piece ended and continue rolling until all the strips are used and you are have large cake. (I made a small one as my tins are not very big)

Now let cool completely. Whip the cream and icing sugar until thick  (I added a little color). Then spread onto cake with a pallet knife and smooth out. Decorate with more lilac flowers.

Orgona torta


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