As I still await the first of the new season fruits, I’m turning to twists on baking classics to keep things interesting in the kitchen. I shared my coffee and walnut battenberg a few weeks ago, and raspberry and white chocolate blondies last week; this week I tried this deliciously springlike lemon thyme cake. It’s a Nigel Slater recipe – meaning it was always going to be tasty and well-balanced – and I substituted thyme leaves for lemon thyme, fresh from Edinburgh’s Secret Herb Garden, to make it even more citrusy. To make the cake, you will need:
200g golden caster sugar
100g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
100g ground almonds
4 free-range eggs
1 lemon, zest only
1 tsp thyme or lemon thyme leaves
For the topping:
4 tbsp sugar
2 large lemons, juice only
1/2 tsp thyme or lemon thyme leaves.
(I halved the whole recipe to make a smaller loaf and it still worked well).
Preheat the oven to 160C/ 140C Fan/ 325F/ Gas 3. Line a 900g loaf tin with baking parchment. Cream the butter with the sugar in a food mixer until pale and fluffy.
In a separate bowl sift together the flour and baking powder then mix with the almonds. Lightly beat the eggs then fold them into the butter mixture in two or three parts, beating them in thoroughly each time. If the mixture looks as if it is about to curdle, stir in some of the flour.
Grate the zest from the lemon and mix it with the thyme leaves. Pound the two together with a pestle, or another heavy weight, and stir into the cake mixture. Gradually mix in the flour, baking powder and almonds.
Spoon the cake mixture into the lined tin and bake for 45 minutes.
For the topping, dissolve the sugar in the juice of the lemons over a moderate heat and stir in the thyme leaves (and even flowers when in season). As the cake comes from the oven, spike the surface with a skewer and spoon over the syrup.
Leave to cool and serve in slices. Delicious with yoghurt.
What are you baking this weekend?
Recipe via Nigel Slater – can’t wait for his new veggie cookbook!