Living in central London without a garden to call my own, I’ve gone a bit miniature-herb-garden-crazy of late and have started cultivating bits and bobs on my windowsills. Some may even see this as preferable to a garden – a friend recently lamented that the resident fox in her area keeps digging up the tarragon…#firstworldproblems indeed!
Miniature garden journal entry – 8 June:
– Currently in my care: lavender, rosemary, parsley, thyme, lemon thyme and strawberries (and a rogue mushroom that I am leaving well alone). And I’ve got chillis, basil and coriander in the kitchen which are occasionally allowed ‘yard time’ as a treat.
– Number of plants dead: 0 (although the coriander is ridiculously attention-seeking and on its way out…).
– Number of plants so happy that they are flowering: 4
– Strawberry crop: 7
It’s all very exciting and making my cooking extra-specially ‘erby at the moment. Simple pleasures, eh? These lemon thyme cakes are bright and syrupy and fragrant – a perfect summertime treat. Extra points if you grow your own thyme!
Sticky lemon thyme cakes
Makes 8 mini 10cm cakes (or one large 18cm round cake / loaf)
For the sponge:
– zest 1 unwaxed lemon
– 2 teaspoons fresh lemon thyme (or normal thyme) leaves
– 175g caster sugar
– 175g unsalted butter, softened and cubed
– 1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
– 3 large eggs (free-range please)
– 175g self-raising flour, sifted
For the syrup:
– 1 teaspoon fresh lemon thyme (or thyme) leaves, plus extra sprigs to decorate
– 80g caster sugar
– 50ml water
– juice 1 lemon
Preheat the oven to 180°C and grease and line the base of your tins.
Bash the lemon zest, thyme leaves and a tablespoon of sugar about with a pestle and mortar to release the oils. Using a food processor with the paddle attachment (or mixing bowl and wooden spoon…), cream the butter, (rest of the) sugar and lemon and thyme mixture until pale and fluffy.
Whisk in the vanilla essence and eggs (one at a time), scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula to ensure everything is incorporated. Tip: If you’re worried about the mixture curdling, add a spoonful of flour with the addition of each egg.
Fold in the (rest of the) flour and divide the batter between the tins. Level the top and bake for about 20 minutes, or until light golden on top and a skewer comes out clean. Tip: If you’ve opted to make one large cake, it will take longer to bake – about 35 minutes.
To make the syrup, bash the thyme and a tablespoon of sugar about with a pestle and mortar. Add to the rest of the ingredients and stir over a medium heat, simmering gently until it has reduced by about half. Tip: If the syrup is getting too gloopy, add a splash of water or turn the heat down.
Discard the thyme (you can sieve the mixture and feel like Martha Stewart or fish the leaves out with a spoon / finger like me…), poke a few holes in the top of the warm cakes with a skewer and feed the cakes with the syrup.
Allow to cool fully in the tins and top with the remaining sprigs of thyme.
Source: Recipe and photos by pip & little blue.