I was so impressed with the labna and strawberries that we'd made at the Vegetarian Cookery School, that I tried to recreate it the day after we arrived home from Bath. I thought it would make a great cake filling, I just needed a cake for it to go in. It had to be a white chocolate cake, it just seemed a bit more summery somehow, so again thinking of last years strawberry & white chocolate cake, I cobbled something together - ha ha. Unfortunately, I couldn't get hold of any strawberries, or even raspberries so it became labna with blueberries instead.
Some preparation is needed in advance to make the labna as well as the rose and mint syrup required to marinade the fruit, but it is very easy.
This is what I did:
- The night before making the cake, I emptied a 500g pot of yogurt (I used Yeo Valley) into a muslin cloth and hung it up over a jug to drain for the night. I did this by using an elastic band to tie the cloth at the top and then hanging it from one of kitchen cupboard door handles.
- The next day, I turned the yogurt, now labna, into a bowl and gave it a good stir (vanilla seeds were meant to be added at this point, but I didn't have any and had used vanilla sugar in the syrup and in the cake). I kept the whey that had drained into the jug to use in the cake (I always keep any whey as it is really useful for all sorts of things).
- Made the syrup by simmering 100g vanilla sugar with 100ml water for about 10 minutes until slightly syrupy. I then added a couple of sprigs of spearmint (you can use whichever type of mint you like) and 1 tbsp rose water. Left this to infuse for 3 hours (the longer the better).
- Poured syrup over a 250g of blueberries (original recipe states 500g strawberries) and left to infuse for another hour.
- Drained off about half of the syrup and added the remainder to the labna and stirred well.
- Melted 200g unsalted butter in a pan with 100g white chocolate (G&B) and 175g vanilla sugar and gave it all a good stir.
- Sifted 200g flour (spelt - wholemeal and white) and buckwheat)) into a large bowl with 1 tsp baking powder and a pinch of Himalayan salt.
- Made a well in the centre and poured in the butter mixture.
- Stirred well then beat in 2 large eggs - no duck eggs to be had!
- Added 1 tbsp rose water and 50g of whey and mixed until all incorporated.
- Divided mixture between 2 21 cm round cake thingies and baked for 20 mins at 180C.
- Spooned some of the reserved syrup over both cakes whilst still hot.
- Left to cool then sandwiched with the labna, managing to crack the top as I did so - hey ho! Dusted with some rose icing sugar I had left over from some Turkish delight and decorated with a few blueberries and a sprig of mint.
The labna and fruit is a delicious pudding in its own right, but as in this case also makes an excellent cake filling. I've never used whey in a cake before, but thought I'd try it out as I've had such success using yogurt recently. It worked well, giving a moist sponge that melted in the mouth yet somehow managed to be crumbly at the same time. Although a little on the sweet side, it was totally delicious. CT reckoned it was a good summer cake, light and moreish, Moorish even - with the taste of rose conjuring up images of eastern potentates - his excuse for such flights of fancy is that his blood sugar level was rather low at the time of tasting. The remaining bit of syrup I didn't use in the cake made a very nice drink with ice, water and a sprig of mint. The only thing missing from this were friends to share it with and the location - it should have been eaten down at our plot with the sun shining instead of in our house with the rain speckling the windows (hard to believe it now, I know).