Friday, January 31, 2014

Lemon and thyme cake, another TV show and being wrong about things

Lemon and thyme cake / Bolo de limão siciliano e tomilho

I thought it would take me a long time to get addicted to a TV show again after Breaking Bad, but the quality of a few drama series was so high I immediately got hooked. I enjoyed Rectify enormously, but with only six episodes I finished watching it in no time. Then there was a pause for some of this year’s Oscar nominated films, and then I started watching Masters of Sex – when I was in NYC last September there were billboards all over the city of three shows: The Blacklist, Masters of Sex and Mom – that got me curious. Both the husband and I enjoyed Raymond Reddington’s saga but I found Mom poorly written and offensive – I must be getting old because I can’t find the idea of a pregnant teenager funny at all.

Therefore, I moved on to Masters of Sex and found out that it is one of the best TV shows ever made, with writing and acting on a very high level and an interesting subject to boot. I already knew that Michael Sheen is a really fine actor – and that is again confirmed with the show – but the surprise to me was Lizzy Kaplan: I’d seen her on Hot Tub Time Machine – which is no big deal – so I was amazed by her acting skills (not to mention how drop dead gorgeous she is).

I usually shy away from cakes made with herbs – especially rosemary, which I find too overpowering – but when I saw Nigel Slater make this cake I decided to give it a go: the morning after I watched his show I was in the kitchen, baking his recipe and perfuming the whole apartment with lemon and thyme. It turned out delicious and moist and the thyme adds another dimension to the lemon flavor without tasting herby.

I don’t mind being wrong about things when the result is good: it took me almost no time at all to survive the end of Breaking Bad, and I want to bake Nigel’s lemon and thyme cake every weekend. :)

Lemon and thyme cake
slightly adapted from the always fantastic Nigel Slater

100g all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
100g ground almonds
1 teaspoon thyme leaves, packed
200g granulated sugar
200g unsalted butter, softened
finely grated zest of 2 large lemons
4 eggs
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

4 tablespoons granulated sugar
juice of the 2 lemons used in the cake batter
½ teaspoon thyme leaves, packed

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Lightly butter a 900g/2lb loaf pan, line it with baking paper and butter the paper as well.
Cake: in a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt, then stir in the almond meal. Set aside. Using a pestle and mortar, crush the thyme leaves with the some of the sugar until the leaves are finely ground and the sugar turns green and perfumed. Using an electric mixer, cream the butter, the thyme sugar, remaining sugar and lemon zest until pale and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape the sides of the bowl occasionally. Beat in the vanilla. On low speed, gradually mix in the dry ingredients.
Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and bake for about 45 minutes, or until golden and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.

When the cake is almost baked, make the syrup: in a small saucepan, combine the sugar and lemon juice. Cook over medium heat until sugar is dissolved, add the thyme and cook for 1 minute. Remove from the heat.
As soon as the cake is out of the oven, prick it all over with a toothpick or skewer and gradually pour the syrup, waiting for the cake to absorb it. Cool completely before unmolding and serving.

Serves 6-8


Laura (Tutti Dolci) said...

I love lemon and thyme in savory dishes so this cake sounds wonderful!

Lily said...

My thyme plant is currently overflowing, seemingly in a desperate bid to escape. This looks like a great option to reduce the overgrowth. The crumb looks moist and I'm a sucker for anything lemony!

We've recently run out of TV shows to watch so your suggestions are very timely. :)

Patricia Scarpin said...

Hey, Lily, I hope you like the recipe and the TV shows! :D

Lynna said...

Love this!! It`s hard to go wrong with lemon cake and this one looks so moist.

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