Mary Ann Esposito’s Lemon-Scented Geranium Cake
Perfumed and lush, scented geraniums are the inspiration for this cake
Greenhouses carry all kinds of scented geraniums—lemon, cinnamon and rose and are all good choices.
8 or 9 lemon geranium leaves, stems removed
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 3/4 cups sugar
4 eggs, separated, divided and at room temperature
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 cup milk
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest
Confectioners’ sugar, for garnish
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Position the oven rack in the middle slot. Coat a 9-inch-by-2-inch-deep, round cake pan with baking or butter spray. Line the pan with a piece of parchment paper to fit the bottom of the pan and spray the parchment.
2. Position 6 or 7 geranium leaves face down in the base of the pan. Set the pan aside.
Mince the remaining leaves very fine and set aside.
3. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until smooth. Beat in the egg yolks one at a time and blend well. Beat in the lemon juice. On low speed, beat in the milk. The batter will look curdled but will smooth out.
4. On a sheet of wax paper, sift together the flour, salt and baking powder. On low speed,
add the flour mixture to the butter mixture 1 cup at a time.
5. By hand, stir in the lemon zest and the minced geranium leaves. Set the batter aside.
6. In a clean bowl with clean beaters, whip the egg whites until soft and shiny, with soft—
not stiff—peaks. With a rubber spatula, fold the egg whites into the batter.
7. Slowly pour the batter over the geranium leaves in the cake pan, smoothing out the batter as you go. Bake the cake in the middle of the oven for approximately 1 hour and 20 minutes, or until the cake is golden brown and a cake skewer inserted into the center comes out clean.
8. Cool the cake on a cake rack for 30 minutes. Run a butter knife around the inside edge of the cake pan to loosen the cake, then invert it onto a cooling rack to cool completely.
9. Dust the cake with confectioners’ sugar and cut into wedges to serve.