One of the most loved cakes in our house is a simple lemon scented cream cheese pound cake. Baked in a loaf tin and sliced and eaten unadorned. A school lunchbox staple. Drizzled with a gin infused lemon syrup it transforms beautifully into a delicious dessert. Today I decided to experiment a little with this tried and true recipe to see if I could come up with something just a little different.
I have always been fascinated with the use of fresh herbs in baking. I use herbs liberally in my savoury cooking and every now or then use herbs to enhance the flavour of fruit. With the exception of a rather gorgeous batch of lavender scones, however, I have never really explored incorporating herbs into my baking. With a beautifully fragrant bunch of lemon thyme, a bowl full of lemons and the last dregs of a bottle of Bombay Sapphire gin on hand that was all about to change.
A little finely minced fresh lemon thyme and a tablespoon of gin added to the batter lifted this cake to a whole new level. Baked in a bundt tin the original loaf style cake was almost unrecognisable. The result? A gorgeously fluffy yet moist cake with a subtle clean lemony, almost herbal, taste.
Cream Cheese Pound Cake With Lemon Thyme and Gin
185g butter, softened
185g cream cheese, softened
finely grated rind of 1 lemon
1 small bunch of fresh lemon thyme
1 tablespoon gin
1 1/2 cups (330g) sugar
1 cup (150g) self raising flour
2/3 cup (100g) plain flour
a generous pinch of salt
icing sugar, lemon thyme and strips of lemon zest to garnish.
PREHEAT oven to 170 C. Grease a large bundt or ring tin. Dust with flour, and tap out excess.
PICK 2 teaspoons small sprigs from tops of lemon thyme sprigs. Scatter evenly over the bottom of the greased tin. Set aside.
STRIP the remaining lemon thyme leaves from their stems and coarsely chop to make 2 tablespoons.
COMBINE chopped lemon thyme,flour, salt and lemon zest in a small bowl. Set aside.
BEAT butter and cream cheese together in a medium bowl until pale. Add sugar and continue to beat mixture until light and fluffy, scraping down sides of bowl as needed, about 3 minutes.
STIR in gin. Then add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition; mix until smooth.
ADD flour, herb and lemon mixture in two batches on low speed, mixing until just combined.
SPOON batter into prepared tin. Bake in moderate oven for an hour, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Turn cake onto a wire rack to cool. Dust with icing sugar and garnish with a scattering of lemon thyme leaves and long strips of lemon zest.