The lemon drizzle cake is firmly established in the English cake repertoire and has become a national favourite at teatime. This version is flavoured with a little thyme, which complements the lemon
You can use any type of edible flower, including flowering herbs. If you are not sure whether your flowers are edible, always check first by looking them up online or in a gardening book. Better safe than sorry.
• 225g unsalted butter, at room temperature
• 225g self-raising flour
• 225g caster sugar
• 3 large eggs
• 2 lemons, grated zest
• 2 teaspoons chopped thyme
• 1 egg white
• 5 sprigs thyme
• 100g caster sugar
• 10-20 edible flowers, washed and patted dry, such as violas, pansies and violets
For the lemon syrup:
• 2 lemons, juiced
• 50g icing sugar
For the filling:
• 250ml whipping cream
• 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 20g icing sugar
For the lemon icing:
• 1 egg white
• 150-200g icing sugar
• 2 lemons, juiced
1 Start by making the crystallised thyme for the decoration. Brush the egg white on to the thyme with a small paintbrush. Put the caster sugar into a bowl and drop in the thyme sprigs, then toss them gently with a spoon to coat them in the sugar.
2 Lift them out of the sugar and lay them on a tray lined with baking parchment. Leave to dry for a couple of hours in a warm place, such as an airing cupboard or near a heater.
3 Heat the oven to 180°C. Grease and flour two 6-indentation small dome silicone moulds.
4 Now make the cakes. Make sure the butter is soft and pliable for the best results. Warm it a little in a microwave or in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water and mush to a pliable texture by hand, if necessary.
5 Sift the flour twice. Place all the cake ingredients in a food processor or a freestanding electric mixer and blend for 1-2 minutes, until the mixture is just combined, thick and smooth.
6 Spoon or pipe the cake batter into the prepared moulds, filling them half way – you should have half the cake mixture left, as you will have to make 2 batches. Bake for about 25 minutes, until well risen and pale golden brown.
7 Remove from the oven and cool in the moulds for 5 minutes, then turn them out on to a wire rack to cool completely. Clean the moulds, grease and flour them, then fill and bake as before. You will have 12 cakes in total once sandwiched.
Wash and dry the moulds. Stab the surface of the cakes several times with a cocktail stick or skewer. Now place the lemon juice and icing sugar for the lemon syrup in a small pan, bring to the boil and simmer for 1-2 minutes.
8 Pop half the cakes back into the moulds and spoon over the hot syrup. Carefully turn them out of the moulds on to a wire rack, then repeat with the remaining cakes.
9 Whisk the cream with the vanilla and icing sugar until it forms firm peaks. Use the cream to sandwich the cakes together to make a ball.
10 To make the icing, put the egg white in a bowl, sift in about 75g of the icing sugar and whisk with an electric mixer for about 3 minutes, until smooth. Gradually whisk in another 75g icing sugar and continue whisking until the mixture is thick enough to leave a trail on the surface, adding more icing sugar if necessary.
11 Mix in the lemon juice a little at a time until the icing becomes thin enough to drizzle over the cakes.
12 Drizzle the icing over the cakes from a teaspoon or a small piping bag with a hole snipped in the tip, letting it run down the sides of the cakes.
13 Decorate them with the crystallised thyme and the flowers. Leave the cakes for 20 minutes for the icing to set before serving.