Thyme is my all-time favorite herb. It goes with so many foods including meats, fish, veggies, and even sweets. That’s right! Open your mind to the world of herby desserts. This concept is not new. We were actively exploring herbs and pastries in the 80’s when I was a young professional. Today it is ho-hum on the fine dining circuit, but home bakers have yet to embrace it. So here’s your chance. Below is a fantastic lemon-thyme pound cake. There are more than 300 species of thyme, which is a low perennial shrub with twiggy stems, tiny oval leaves, and little white or pink blossoms. It is a standard ingredient in all Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisines and an important ingredient in several spice blends, including Bouquet Garni, Herbes de Provençe, Za’atar, and Jerk.
One reason for thyme’s popularity is that its flavor is strong and long lasting. Thymol, the main flavor compound, can be found in many other herbs. Several interesting varieties of thyme can be found with distinctive aromas, indicated by the names, including caraway thyme, lavender thyme, mint thyme, oregano thyme, coconut thyme, lime thyme, and lemon thyme. With the exception of lemon, which is fairly common at farmers’ markets, you should be able to find these unique species through specialty growers.
This cake is probably my favorite use of thyme. I think you’ll like it too.
2-1/4 cup cake flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
8 oz. (2 sticks) butter
1 cup sugar
Zest and juice of 4 lemons
1/4 cup thyme leaves, chopped fine
2 TB. milk
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
- Preheat oven to 325˚F. Line a 9×6” loaf pan with butter and parchment paper. Sift together flour, baking powder, salt, and set aside.
- In a large bowl with a sturdy spoon or electric mixer cream together the butter, sugar, grated lemon zest, and thyme until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one by one. Add milk, and slowly add the sifted ingredients. Pour the batter into the loaf pan and bake at 325˚F for 45-60 minutes, until a pick inserted at the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes before inverting onto a rack.
- Combine powdered sugar and lemon juice in a small bowl and whisk to combine. Pour over warm cake slowly, letting it soak in thoroughly. Cool completely before slicing.