…I have been looking for a lavender cider for AGES.
And by “ages”, I mean since last summer. Ha!
In all seriousness, I got on this odd kick for lavender cider last year. I can’t quite remember what spurred it, but I do remember being up way too late one night scouring Google for anything relative to the NYC area. Nothing came to fruition…heheh…until I found Fruition without even trying!
(I know, I know, I drive my followers away en masse with dumb word play, surely. Haaaa.)
Truth be told, I was at my local beer bar two days ago, hoping that they’d have cans of Citizen Cider’s Tulsi – which I’m wicked eager to try! – since Broadway Dive almost always has something from Citizen either on tap or in cans / bottles for sale, but I spied a few cans of Fruition : Lavender in their cider fridge, and felt like that was my destiny.
This cider was a wonderfully quenching pucker to it, almost a little Champagne-y, and it is not overloaded with lavender. You smell it when you bring the can to your mouth to take a sip, then it slightly dissipates until you taste the slight herbaceousness of it as you swallow. In my opinion, that’s PERFECT. Lavender can be overwhelming, and this cider hit the perfect balance of having it be present without knocking you on your ass. 😂
I’m not sure that I’ve ever had a cider I’ve disliked from Citizen, and the winning streak has clearly continued! They utilized the lavender – Vermont-grown, by the way – wonderfully. Can’t wait until I can go up to their tasting room in Burlington, Vermont again – I highly recommend a visit if you’re in that area, with social distancing rules in effect as I type this, most likely!
Off the bat, I’ll say this: It’s a “cheater cake”. Read: I added cherries to a box of Duncan Hines yellow cake mix.
We all have our Sandra Lee semi-homemade moments.
While I do love making cakes from scratch – namely, my baked cake donuts! – the simplicity of having a cake mix or two in the pantry when I have a craving is invaluable to me. I’m not the Food Police here: make your cake from scratch, buy a cake mix with 50 ingredients in it, buy an organic GF / DF cake mix, you do you! But being able to have a sweet summer treat mixed in baked in roughly 40 minutes is all I want sometimes. I don’t always want to measure things out, sift flour, and drive myself crazy in general.
Plus, when I’ve got to pit a bunch of cherries, I want to take some shortcuts elsewhere.
The buttercream, though? That I’ll make from scratch. I’ve used the same proportions for YEARS, which yields a simple batch of vanilla buttercream, roughly 2 & 1/2 cups or so: 4 cups confectioners’ sugar, 2 sticks of butter, 2 tablespoons milk, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. BOOM.
Take some shortcuts for a wonderful summer dessert! Cherry season doesn’t last for too long, and we’ve got to take advantage of it!
Cherry Cake with Vanilla Buttercream
(Makes two 9″ round cakes)
1 & 1/2 cups cherries, pitted and chopped; this amount was yielded from 1 pint of fresh cherries.
1 box yellow or white cake mix of choice
Add eggs, water, oil, et al, in accordance to directions listed on the mix’s box.
2 sticks butter, unsalted and softened for at least 30 minutes prior to use.
4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1.) Preheat oven in accordance to the directions on the cake mix box, depending on the type of cake pans being used. Oil and flour cake pans; set a round of parchment paper at the bottom of each cake pan, if possible. (There is a great tutorial here!)
2.) Prepare cherries for cake mix by pitting and chopping; the chop should be fairly uniform, but it’s okay if there are a few larger pieces of cherries. Set aside.
3. ) Combine cake mix in accordance to the directions on the box. Fold in cherries until combined.
4.) Bake cakes in accordance to the directions on the box. (Should be 25 – 30 minutes.) Test doneness by inserting a toothpick into the middle of one of the cakes; if it comes out clean, the cakes are baked. Remove from oven and place on cooling rack for 10 minutes before removing from cake pans; continue to cool cakes on rack until room temperature.
5.) For the vanilla buttercream frosting, cream butter in a large bowl on medium-low speed for 2 minutes or until light and fluffy. Adding in 1/2 cup at a time, add sifted confectioners’ sugar to the butter and continue to blend. After adding in a total of 3 cups of the confectioners’ sugar, add in 1 tablespoon of milk and the 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract. Beat and add in the remaining sugar. If the mix is a little dry, add in the additional 1 tablespoon of milk.
6.) Once cake has cooled, brush off any crumbs from top and sides, and cut down the top bottom layer if you have a “cake dome”. (See tutorial here.) apply an even layer of buttercream to the top of one cake, roughly 3/4 of a cup in total. Place the second cake securely on top, and use the remaining frosting for the top and sides, spreading evenly.
I’ll go on the record to say that Austin Eastciders is one of my favorite cideries in the country. Always happy, always pleased, and always eager for the autumn when they release their Spiced Cider. (Oh yeah, you WILL be seeing me post about that a few months down the road!)
The folks at Austin Eastciders have a great line-up, flavors to please the dry cider lovers and the fruity cider lovers. Me? I’ll take any of ’em, and the Blood Orange cider is excellent. Whether it’s a cold winter Sunday brunch at a bar eating nachos while a football game is on*, of if it’s a stifling hot summer’s day and you’re winding down after a long work day, Blood Orange satisfies. While some flavors are seasonal – I’m not sure I’d be as tempted to drink their (or any) watermelon-flavored cider during the winter – citrus is a flavor that transcends seasons.
For me, the hit of citrus doesn’t come when it first hits the lips, but once it hits the back of my mouth. It’s pleasant, not too tart but it has that little bit of sour to complement the sweet. Zesty would be a great descriptor!
You really can’t go wrong keeping a good Blood Orange Ciders on hand!