Lemon yellows and violets
Lemons and violets
I am radiant with happiness that spring is really here!(England!)
I am waking up to a bright sunshine this morning and feel the spring breeze coming through the window. And the birds are singing! It makes me jump out of bed and do stuff. (I think there should be an alarm clock with that sound! hehe).
The weekend was sunny too and of course, as usual, all the English were heading south - to the beach, to catch as much sunlight as possible.
I go to the beach every weekend, whatever the weather, with my greyhound(best loving breed ever) who is going at this time of the year (as it is warm outside) absolutely bonkers!
And as we were driving through the countryside, in one of the villages, people were already celebrating spring with a pre-Easter ceremony - 'Morris' dancing (I found out), dressed up in colourful clothes. This pagan spring fall tradition(out of the few that are left) is supposed to bring fertility and good crop.
Over on continent, people seemed to have kept their traditions very well and can be seen in most local villages and towns.
I came across a beautiful one - from France (in a 'Delicious' magazine) - 'La fete des violettes' - a festival devoted to violets. It all happens in a small village Tourrettes sur Loup(south of France), overlooking the Mediterranean - 'La Cite des Violettes' (the city of voilets). Their main industry is violet cultivation and this festival celebrates its season.
Over the 2 days of festivities, you can try all kinds of treats like 'sables a la violette'(biscuits with violet extract), 'confit de violette'(jam) - 7,600 flowers are used to make 1kg of jam, violet liqueur (used in desserts), violet syrup, tea, bonbons, lollipops and crystallised violets (top of cakes, like mine above).
I could go on and on but I will mention few from the magazine:
-voilet food colouring (Jane Asher's Grape Violet Paste Food Colouring - tel:020 7584 6177)
-violet syrup (London's La Fromagerie - tel: 020 7935 0341), to make fantastic cocktails - 'Amie de la Violette' (using equal parts of gin, violet liquor and grapefruit juice). You can also add a drop to a champagne.
So, I have mentioned the violets but not a lot about yellows.
So, here is a recipe to amend that - from the City of Violets (Tourrettes sur Loup):
Le gateau de la fete des violettes
Beautiful moist almond and lemon cake bursting with lemon juice.
6 large eggs
175 g caster sugar
2 large lemons (fine zest of 2, juice of 1)
200 g ground almonds
Egg icing ingredients:
2 large eggs
40 g butter
1 lemon (fine zest)
75 g caster sugar
Preheat the oven to 160 degrees.
Separate the eggs in 2 bowls.
Add sugar into the egg yolks and whisk until pale and smooth. Add the zest and the juice. Mix in well. Add the ground almonds.
In the other bowl(make sure it's free of grease) - whisk the egg whites with a little juice and 1coffee spoon of sugar until stiff.
Add the egg whites in 2 parts to the egg yolk mixture and fold in carefully.
Prepare a non-stick cake tin and fold in the cake mixture, spread evenly and bake in the midle of the oven (30 - 45 minutes). It took me 30 min. only in a fan-assisted oven.
To make the egg icing, whisk the eggs and strain them through a sieve into a heavy-based saucepan( I would use the bain-marie style saucepan). Add the butter, sugar and lemon zest. Whisk constantly over a very low heat until it thickens. It should take about 10 minutes. (hope you are fit! my arm nearly falls off when I do this). It must not boil.
Once ready , leave to cool. Keep stirring to avoid any skin forming. (yuck-a-duck!)
Take the cake out of the oven and leave to cool thoroughly.
Then, with a soft plastic spatula, separate the sides of the cake from the cake tin. Transfer the cake onto a serving plate and start spreading the egg icing from the middle to the edges (1cm from the edge). Leave to set.
Decorate with crystallised violets.
Dip them into a frothy egg white, shake off the excess carefully and dip in white caster sugar. Put on a baking tray with baking paper and put in the low oven for 1 hour (110degrees, fan-90degrees) until dry. Cool and decorate.