If there’s one thing I’ve discovered during the past few years, it’s that the joy of ‘home grown’ is unlike anything else. There’s something special about how unhurried (not to mention patience-inducing) the process of growing is, and the results are all the more satisfying for it. It becomes part of the day’s routine- watering, waiting, nurturing, and tending to. Poking seeds into soil and repotting spindly herbs, then watching them grow wild. Being able to snip a few sprigs of fresh rosemary or sage straight from the garden to add to a dish, instead of having to turn to a few sad stalks taken from a plastic bag from the fridge.
Because of the abundance of herbs we’ve got growing in our little garden at the moment, I’ve been finding new ways of incorporating them into…just about everything. Mint leaves into lemonade and soft drinks and just plain old iced water. Fried sage on top of thinly sliced and fried pork loin steaks. Rosemary inside chicken (along with garlic and lemon, of course), then into the oven for roasting. My favourite combination though, of a herb plus any other flavour on earth, is that of thyme and lemon. I first tried it a year or so ago in the form of a heavily-frosted cupcake (I even blogged about it!) and have been obsessed with the idea of making my own lemon/thyme cake ever since.
Almost a full year on, and I think I’ve got it down. Glazed lemon cake is the taste of my childhood so will forever hold a special place in my heart, but the addition of thyme makes this version so much more grown up. It brings a faintly aromatic, grown-up punch of flavour to a perfectly simple cake, whilst a few tablespoons of yoghurt keep the cake itself (made from a tinkered-with basic sponge recipe) moist and tender-crumbed.
It’s so simple, so delicious, and tastes so perfectly summery, it’s practically a crime not to make one right away…
The ingredients are listed first in ounces because I learnt how to make this base cake recipe using pounds and ounces in probably about 1993, and still can’t quite bring myself to measure it out in grams. I’ve listed them though, in case your scale won’t work with silly old-fashioned British measurements…
8oz (225g) soft unsalted butter
8oz (225g) caster sugar
8oz (225g) plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
4 large eggs
4 tbsp plain natural yoghurt
1 tsp vanilla extract
Zest of 1 whole lemon, plus the juice of 1/2.
Leaves from 2 small sprigs of fresh thyme
Approx. 300g icing sugar
Approx. 4 lemons
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius, and generously butter a bundt tin.
- Place the butter and sugar into a large bowl, and beat until light and fluffy. Whisk together the eggs, natural yoghurt and vanilla extract in a jug, and sift the flour and baking powder into a separate bowl. Grate the lemon zest and add the thyme leaves into the flour mixture.
- Add half the egg mixture to the butter and sugar then beat to combine, and then add in half the flour and beat again. Repeat until all the ingredients are combined, and beat until the batter is smooth and light. Beat it for about thirty seconds longer, fold through the lemon juice, and then stop.
- Pour out the batter into the tin, smooth over the top, and then place it into the oven to cook for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tin for 5 minutes before turning out.
- Sift out the icing sugar (approximately 300g, but it’s totally flexible!), and then squeeze in enough fresh lemon juice to bring the glaze to a consistency just slightly thicker than double cream.
- When the cake is cool to the touch, pour over the glaze (with a plate underneath the rack to catch excess!) and decorate the top with a few thyme leaves and, if you can find them, thyme flowers too.
^^ There’s nothing like a good drizzle, is there? ^^
I reckon if you made one this coming Saturday, it’d carry you through the whole bank holiday weekend on a wave of tea, cake, and crackly lemon glaze…