On my recent visit to France, I treated myself to several violet flavoured goodies – chocolate, ice cream, raspberry and violet mousse… (see here for my poppy ‘coquelicot’ cupcakes, also inspired by my visit to France).
My absolute favourite goody was a beautiful bottle of Crème de Violette which I managed to get from a French supermarket. Mixed with lemon tonic and a dash of peach schnapps it makes an awesome violet cocktail.As soon as I tasted it, I was transported back to childhood and the sweet, distinctive taste of Parma Violets. I’m not quite sure what I’m going to do after I finish the Crème de Violette, which is happening sooner than anticipated (oops!), it’s become my go-to cocktail of choice. I knew I should have bought two! I’m contemplating making some Parma Violet vodka and Parma Violet sugar syrup, so I’ll let you know how that goes when/if I do.
Going along with the revival of violet flavoured treats, my brother bought some gummy violet drops from the Oldest Sweet Shop in Pateley Bridge, which is a regular family holiday haunt of ours. He didn’t get much of a look in – I was quick to snaffle them, as, all of a sudden, a cake was calling me (what a surprise)!
Parma Violets are like Marmite…love them or hate them. If you’re in the ‘love’ camp, you’ll totally appreciate this cake!
Parma Violet Cake
A lemon sponge, sandwiched with lemon curd and violet butter icing, topped with violet glacé icing. Decorated with gummy violet drops and crushed Parma Violets. I added lemon zest to the cake and a thin layer of lemon curd to the middle, which just cuts through the sweetness nicely.To make this cake, you will need:
2 x 8 inch / 20 cm cake tins
Weighing scales (digital scales are best for total accuracy)
Bowl & Wooden spoon OR electric mixer
Pestle and Mortar
225g soft margarine
225g caster sugar
4 large eggs
225g self-raising flour
2 level tsp baking powder
2 tbsp milk
Zest of one lemon
Violet sweets to decorate
Butter Icing Ingredients:
50g unsalted butter, at room temperature
100g sifted icing sugar
1 tbasp milk
1 tbsp Crème de Violette
3-4 packets of small Parma Violets, crushed to a powder with a pestle and mortar and sifted to make sure there are no lumps.
See basic butter icing recipe for the method. Add the Parma Violets and beat them in with the milk and Crème de Violette at the end. Incorporate the liquid slowly to make sure the butter icing doesn’t split, you may not need it all.
Glacé Icing Ingredients:
175g sifted icing sugar
Approx 2 tbsp Crème de Violette mixed with a dash of lemon juice
1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees / 160 degrees fan (or the temperature you use to bake cakes in your oven, each oven is different)
2. Prepare two 8 inch / 20 cm cake tins with a disc of greaseproof paper in the bottom. Make sure you butter the bottom of the tin to get your greaseproof disc totally flat.
3. Cream together the margarine and caster sugar until light and fluffy.
4. Add the lightly beaten eggs and sift the flour and baking powder into the bowl. Add the lemon zest and milk.
5. Now beat everything together briefly until everything is just nicely incorporated. You don’t want to overbeat at this stage -overbeating the flour makes the cake crumb less tender.
6. Divide the cake batter between the two tins (yes I do weigh it to make sure they’re the same – perfectionist, moi?). Use the back of a spoon to make sure the batter is as level as possible.
7. Bake for about 25 minutes, until slightly golden and the cake springs back when lightly pressed, and a skewer should come out clean.
8. Leave in the cake tin to cool for a couple of minutes, then remove and leave to cool on a baking rack.
9. Brush the cakes with Crème de Violette / violet vodka / violet syrup (whatever you can get your hands on or make).
10. Put the bottom cake on the cake stand and put a thin layer of lemon curd on it.
11. Make the butter icing (see ingredients and link above for method) and spread on top of the lemon curd. Put the top layer on (flat side up).
12. Make the glacé icing, by adding the liquid a few drops at a time to the SIFTED icing sugar, mixing all the time with a fork until it’s the ight consistency. I keep it quite thick so it doesn’t all run over the sides.
13. Pour the glacé icing onto the top of the cake and let it run to the edges. Depending on how thick / thin you have made it, you may need to help it out with a knife that’s been dipped in hot water.
14. I decorated the cake with Violet Jellies and crushed Parma Violets.
Buying violet ingredients (I can’t vouch for them as I bought them in France, but they look similar):
Violet concentrated flavouring: http://www.cakedecoratingstore.co.uk/violet-parma-flavouring.html
Crème de violette: http://www.thedrinkshop.com/products/nlpdetail.php?prodid=5397
Gummy violet drops: http://www.oldestsweetshop.co.uk/violet-drops
Inspired, but can’t get hold of the violet ingredients? Check out these recipes that use just Parma Violet sweets to get the flavour: