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Lavender-Polenta Coffee Cake (French Lavender)

Fragrant dried lavender lends delicate floral and herbal notes to the lemon-honey glaze that’s brushed onto this coffee cake after baking. If you have only coarse-grind polenta, place it in a food processor and pulse several seconds until finely ground.

Ingredients:

For the coffee cake:

  • 3/4 cup golden raisins
  • 2 Tbs. brandy
  • 3/4 cup fine-grind polenta or cornmeal
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbs. grated lemon zest
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 3/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 3/4 cup pine nuts, toasted


For the glaze:

  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice, strained
  • 1 Tbs. French lavender

Directions:

Preheat an oven to 350°F. Butter and flour a 9-inch springform pan.

In a small bowl, stir together the raisins and brandy and let stand for 10 minutes to plump. In another bowl, stir together the polenta, flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and lemon zest. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the eggs, olive oil, honey and yogurt. Using an electric mixer, beat on medium-low speed until just blended. Set aside 3 Tbs. of the pine nuts for the topping. Add the polenta mixture, raisins and the remaining pine nuts to the egg mixture and beat on low speed until the batter is almost smooth.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a rubber spatula. Sprinkle the reserved pine nuts evenly over the top. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Meanwhile, make the glaze: In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the honey, lemon juice and lavender. Bring to a boil, stirring until the honey is dissolved, then remove from the heat. Let cool.

Transfer the cake to a wire rack. Immediately poke the top all over with a thin wooden skewer and brush the top with half of the glaze. Let the cake cool in the pan on the rack for 10 minutes, then release and lift off the pan sides. Invert the cake onto the rack and lift off the pan bottom. Poke the bottom of the cake all over with the skewer and brush with the remaining glaze. Invert the cake again so that it is right side up. Let the cake cool completely on the rack before serving. Makes one 9-inch coffee cake.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma, Essentials of Baking, by Cathy Burgett, Elinor Klivans & Lou Seibert Pappas (Oxmoor House, 2003).