Sitting in the backyard, I can smell someone baking a cake. The smell of cake baking has got to be one of life’s great, simple pleasures. It makes me think that maybe it’s me who needs to go and bake something for afternoon tea…
When I’m in a funk, baking can help. I’m not sure if it’s the smell, or the act of making something (which usually makes me feel useful, when I’m otherwise at a loss as to what to do), or the fact that I get to eat it and share it after I’ve made it – any which way, baking something simple can be a little life elixir.
There’s so much thyme in the garden right now that it is bursting out of the garden beds. The lemon trees have the last flush of the Winter lemons on them, and new flowers for more lemons to come in the Autumn. The bees are busy, the silverbeet has gone rampant (spanakopita anyone?!) and I’m waiting to see if my dahlias will ever shoot (I’m a dahlia novice, cross your fingers for me). Spring is here, with it’s winds of change and hope; might as well bake a cake.
Bright, simple and fragrant, this Lemon + Thyme Syrup Cake is the perfect lemon cake to whip up in next to no time, a darling little cake with a sweet honey lemon syrup, scented with thyme.
I love to bake a cake, but you know, I’m not much for making things that require a lot of fuss. There has to be a special reason for me to make a ‘fussy’ cake, one with multiple steps or that requires me to take equipment out. Unless it’s a birthday, or we’re having friends over, or a kiddo really wants to try out a recipe that’s tickled their fancy (that’s always reason enough). But sometimes it’s just nice to have a little cake in the house that takes hardly any effort at all; something to ease the weekly woes, pop in the school lunchboxes or share with your neighbours.
This is a cake for when you really don’t feel like making a fuss at all. You can make it with just a fork, a spoon and a bowl if you like. Go ahead and use two bowls, if you want to be fancy, but use only one and it’ll be just as good. Zesting a lemon is done in a flash, and smells so amazing that it’s sure to brighten your spirits. And a little syrup made in a minute in a little saucepan (which can go in the dishwasher along with everything else, thank you very much) seems like hardly any trouble at all.
If you’re using one bowl, just whisk the wet ingredients in the bottom of it first, before adding in the dry.
Pop it in the oven. Have a cup of tea while you wait. Have another one when it’s ready. And share it with your friends, your neighbours, your loved ones.
If thyme hasn’t gone crazy in your garden right now, never fear. You can make the syrup straight-up lemon without the thyme and it will still be zesty and add a little punch. I like to make a syrup because it’s a totally delicious addition, but also because it’s a way to use the juice from the zested lemons (I don’t know about you, but if I zest a lemon and don’t use it’s juice straight away, it usually sits around on my kitchen bench forever). Plus, I like to think that it’s an extra little kick of vitamin C, which is never a bad thing.
• Gluten Free • Sugar Free • One Bowl Baking •
For the cake:
200g / 7.1oz natural yoghurt
120ml (½ cup / 4fl oz) olive oil
1 teaspoon (5ml / 0.17fl oz) vanilla paste
2 large, free range eggs
zest of 4 lemons
100g / 3.5oz buckwheat flour
100g / 3.5oz almond meal
2 teaspoons (10ml / 0.34fl oz) baking powder
pinch of fine salt
120g / 4.2oz xylitol
For the syrup:
juice 1 lemon (around ¼ cup / 60ml / 2fl oz) juice)
1 tablespoon (20ml / 0.7fl oz) honey
few sprigs of fresh thyme
Preheat the oven to 180°C / 350°F / Gas Mark 4
Grease and line a loaf tin with baking paper.
In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients until well combined.
Add in the dry ingredients and whisk until completely smooth.
Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake in the centre of the oven for around 50 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
While the cake is baking, make the syrup by putting all of the lemon juice, honey and thyme in to a small saucepan and heating over low heat until the honey has dissolved. Set aside to cool.
When you have removed your cake from the oven, allow it to cool for 5 minutes before pouring over the syrup. Allow the syrup to soak into the cake for 10 minutes before removing from the tin.
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