I only realized it was spring after seeing the google doodle (who needs a calendar when you have google? It’s become so rare to see the plain, unadulterated google logo).
That being said, while technically it is spring, it hasn’t really gotten around to the spring like weather and greenery that one might hope for here. (Nor does it usually, so it’s true that I don’t normally hope with a great deal of conviction).
This cake is a spring-sort of cake (and even a sponge cake!) as it’s for wishful thinking of spring. It has some spring-y flavours but all of them are preserved from other times of the year.
And no, I didn’t cheat, as the true ‘S’ ingredient is spelt flour. I’ve seen some lovely whole grain baked goods around as inspiration, including this recent stunning example from the multitude at With the Grains.
The cake is flavoured with orange, chamomile and dried lavender from last summer; some rhubarb, frozen and also from last summer, stewed with orange and dried rose, and a chamomile creme anglaise.
While the sponge cake had a pleasant, cotton-y texture, it was otherwise a bit of a disaster. My sponge cakes usually turn out quite stout (as I beat every last bit of air out when folding), but this time the batter remained quite light, rose to a billowy height in the oven, and then collapsed. I’m thinking a couple things: perhaps I needed to bake it more, use more flour (I liberally played around with the proportions this time), or try cooling it slowly in the oven.
I enjoyed the flavour of the spelt flour. And while initially I was too distracted by the spelt to notice, the rest of the flavours, orange, lavender, and chamomile, did come through as one floral sort of note.
I also can’t wait until the rhubarb has grown–texturally, the stewed rhubarb would be so much more pleasant with fresh rhubarb instead. Then it could be cooked until just tender and still a bit toothsome. However I did quite like the rose flavour with the rhubarb; that was a surprising discovery that I may revisit later.
The creme anglaise was my favourite component. I don’t actually like chamomile tea as much as I wish I did; I find the thin, grassy taste a bit off-putting. The richness of the creme anglaise softens some of the grassy taste and, at least I found, makes it very pleasant!
Altogether, it was an appropriate way to start spring (if only due to the fact that I didn’t have any fresh ingredients to use). Both the creme anglaise and rhubarb are very sauce-y, so they work well with such an absorbent cake. I think it would be even better paired with a less flat (yes, yes, yes!) and drier sort of sponge cake, such as the old-fashioned sponge cake from Poires au Chocolat (which remains one of my favourites).
A spring-sort of cake: A bit in retrospect, it seems I borrowed inspiration from the rhubarb soup with chamomile cream from Bar Tartine by Nick Balla and Cortney Burns.