"Fit For A Brit", is our theme for this week at I Heart Cooking Clubs (IHCC), second week of cooking with our new featured chef, Nigel Slater. When I saw this theme lined up for this week at IHCC, I knew just what I was going to make. The English love their tea (so do I) which are usually served with scones, cakes, or sandwiches. And I thought that a cake would certainly fit the theme for this week!
I was undecided at first to make either the English Apple Cake or Thyme and Lemon Cake. I do have some lemons which I bought a couple of days before, and some thymes which I wanted to used up, and I only have 2 small lemons in my fridge, so Thyme and Lemon Cake it is. And besides, I love lemons.
If you love lemons, then I strongly encourage you to make this cake! This cake is really good!
Very easy and simple cake to make. It started with the usual steps for cake making, by creaming the butter and sugar, and the lightly beaten eggs are added in. Next come the interesting part, this is the first time I am using a pestle and mortar for cake making! Nigel Slater is a genius, the lemon zest and the thyme leaves are pounded together until they are crushed. I have however used more thyme leaves than the recipe calls for, which uses only 1 teaspoon of thyme leaves, but I figured that amount is quite little and have used about 1-1/2 to 2 tbsps instead. I'm glad that I did. Even with that amount of thyme leaves I've used, the fragrance is subtle but it is definitely there.
The pounded lemon zest-thyme leaves is mixed into the butter mixture together with the flour, which is first mixed with some almond meal and baking powder. I've baked the cake in two greased and lined small pans, size 7"x4", and baked them for about 40 minutes, at 160C.
While the cake is baking in the oven, prepare the syrup by dissolving the sugar with the lemon juice and some water over a medium heat, and mix in the thyme leaves which I have used about 1 tablespoon. I find that the syrup is extremely sour, so I've added about 4 tbsps more of sugar. It is very rare that I would add on sugar for any bakes, but since I've reduced the sugar for the batter, and the syrup is really sour, I thought that it would be alright to add a little more sugar to balance off the sourness of the lemons. Once the cake is done baking, remove the pan from the oven, use a skewer to poke the cake all over at the top, and pour the syrup over, letting the cake cool completely in the pan. I did not use all of the syrup, as the amount is quite alot, so I've used only about 2/3 and used the balance syrup in my cup of tea! The lemons I used are not large, only medium in size, but they are extremely juicy.
This is one delicious lemony thyme cake. The lemony thyme syrup makes the cake really moist with lemony flavour and a light fragrance from the thymes. It has a soft and moist texture, not too sweet, just right. If you love lemony cakes, this is one recipe that I highly urge you to try. I brought this cake over to my sister's place and my nieces kept coming back for more! I'll be making this cake again. This is just the cake to enjoy with a cup of your favourite tea!
A Thyme and Lemon Cake
(adapted from "The Kitchen Diaries II", Nigel Slater)
200gm caster sugar (I use 130gm)
100gm plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
100gm ground almonds
4 large eggs
1 tsp thyme leaves (I use about 1-1/2 tbsp)
For the top (syrup) :
4 tablespoons caster sugar (I use about 8 tbsp in total)
2 large lemons
2 tbsps water
1/2 teaspoon thyme leaves (I use about 1 tbsp)
You will need a 20cm loaf tin, lined with baking parchment.
Set the oven at 160C/Gas 3.
Cream the butter with the sugar in an electric mixer till pale and fluffy. Sift together the flour and baking powder and mix with the almonds. Lightly beat the eggs, then add them to the butter and sugar mixture in two or three sessions, 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 some other heavy weight. Fold into the cake mixture with the flour, baking powder and almonds.
Spoon into the lined tin and bake for forty-five minutes. While the cake bakes, dissolve the sugar in the juice of the lemons and the water over a moderate heat and stir in the thyme leaves (a few flowers would be good here, too). As the cake comes from the oven, spike the surface with a skewer and spoon over the syrup. Leave to cool and then serve in slices, with thick yoghurt.
Enough for 8.
Curious to know what everyone else is making for "Fit For A Brit"? Drop by IHCC to find out!
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