This beautiful cake gets its flavor from an unexpected source: hibiscus flowers.
- I always find that when baking a cake in a loaf pan, the outermost edges of the cake begin to over-bake and dry out while the center remains raw. To help get more even results, I line my loaf pan with layers of heavy-duty foil.
- For the Cake
- Baking spray
- 1 cup dried hibiscus flowers (See Notes)
- 1/2 cup boiling water
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 2 1/2 cups (about 12 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1 cup (about 7 ounces) granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs, beaten and at room temperature
- 3/4 cup whole milk, at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- For the Spread
- 8 ounces cream cheese, cut into 8 pieces and at room temperature
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
For the Cake: Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Wrap 4 layers of heavy duty foil (See Notes) around exterior of 9- by 5-inch loaf pan, then coat interior with baking spray.
Combine hibiscus flowers, boiling water, honey, and lemon juice in small bowl, mashing with fork to ensure flowers absorb liquid evenly. Allow flowers to steep until softened and liquid has been almost completely absorbed, about 15 minutes.
In medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
In large bowl, beat butter on medium speed until creamy, about 1 minute. Add oil and sugar and continue to beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs in a slow steady stream and continue to beat until completely incorporated, about 1 minute.
Decrease mixer speed to low and add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with milk. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl with rubber spatula as needed. Increase speed to medium and beat mixture just until combined, 20 to 30 seconds. Add vanilla and soaked hibiscus flowers beat once more, just to combine, about 20 seconds.
Scrape batter into prepared pan. Bake 35 to 40 minutes, rotating cake halfway through baking, until cake tester inserted in center of cake comes out clean. Transfer cake to cooling and cool in pan 10 minutes. Invert cake onto plate or second cooling rack, then revert to original cooling rack so top of cake faces up. Cool completely, at least 1 hour. Serve with spread.
For the Spread: Prepare spread while cake cools.
In large bowl, beat cream cheese on medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add sour cream, honey, vanilla, and salt and continue beating until completely smooth, about 2 minutes. Serve with cake.
9- by 5-inch loaf pan, heavy-duty foil, whisk, electric mixer, rubber spatula, cooling rack