Lemon and basil summer cake
Summer is slipping by like sand through my fingers. Can we be nearing the end of August? The hydrangeas are beginning to show signs of the approaching fall as their colour turn antique rose and on my last trip to the market there were pears and a few winter squashes alongside ripe tomatoes, cucumbers and yellow beans. I love fall but not ready to give up summer just yet. There is still summer foods to cook, overnight sailing to go on, wineries to visit and hopefully many more of the lovely patio dinners we have been enjoying on warm summer evenings.
This morning I walked through my patio garden checking the herbs and noticed that the basil patch is out-performing all the other herbs this year. I have a few basil varieties growing side by side in a sunny area on the south side of the deck and as I approach, a light breeze carries the fragrance towards me and images of tomato salads and pastas begin to dance in my head.
One basil variety that grows like a column (Greek column basil?) and has tiny leaves inspired me to use it in a lemon cake I was just about to bake. The small leaves are aromatic, sweet and spicy and I thought they would lend their perfumed to the cake and add subtle basil flavour. I picked up a few springs and brought them inside.
This morning I had a lemon cake on the agenda. Since I don’t like too many dishes in the sink I usually economize and make my cakes in one bowl without a mixer. Perhaps a mixer would add volume to the cake but I am perfectly fine with it the way it turns out sans mixer.
I have a standard recipe that I have developed over the years and make slight adjustments to depending on what I have in the fridge and what inspires me at the time. Today I had lemons, kefir (liquid yogurt) and the basil, so that’s what I made the cake with. My general method is to mix the wet ingredients first, then the dry ingredients and then mix them together. While the cake was baking i made a simple lemon syrup to drizzle over the cake when it comes out of the oven.
The cake came out golden and beautiful, moist and lemony with subtle basil aroma. It is moist enough to serve on it’s on, or with a little whipped cream, honey creme fraiche or a drizzle of salted orange caramel.
2 large organic eggs
Juice of 1 1/2 lemons
1/2 cup olive oil
1 cup kefir or plain yogurt
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
4 sprigs (about 3 inch each) of Greek Column basil leaves (or other basil leaves, chopped)
1/3 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons water
Break eggs into a large mixing bowls and mix with a whisk.
Add the lemon juice, oil, kefir and sugar and whisk until combined.
Place a sieve over the bowl and add the flour, baking powder and baking soda to the sieve.
sift the flour mixture over the egg mixture, then use a spatula to blend the batter.
Blend in the basil leaves with a spatula, reserving some for garnish.
Spray a round 8 inch round cake pan with a removable bottom with spray oil or butter the bottom and sides.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
Set the pan on a baking sheet lined with foil and place in a 350F oven.
Bake for about 50 minutes or until the cake springs back to the touch and a knife inserted comes out clean.
Let the cake cool slightly, then remove from the pan and place on a cooling rack set over the baking pan.
Drizzle the warm syrup over the cake and let it drip over the sides. You can poke a few holes in the cake with a skewer to let the syrup soak in if necessary.
Let cool. Enjoy with whipped cream, sweetened creme fraiche and a drizzle of salted orange caramel.
combine the lemon juice and sugar in a small bowl and microwave until the sugar melts. You can also do this in small pot on the stovetop.
Pour over the still warm cake.