If you live in London having any sort of garden is like gold dust and since moving a month ago, I finally have my hands on a little handful of sparkly gold dust in the heart of Barnes.
I’ve lived in London nearly 10 years and having started off with a shared garden the size of a couple of desks I’ve slowly graduated up the scale but only in terms of balcony gardens. Although come to think of it, I’m not even sure our first balcony really counted as it was only accessible through our toilet window! It was however a fantastic suntrap and on many an afternoon you could find me lying out there catching some sunrays, reading a book and possibly with a glass of wine in hand.
In our last flat, our balcony got a little bit bigger and we just about had room for a tiny table, a couple of chairs and two troughs of herbs kindly donated and put together by my parents which they bought from Pepperpot Herbs. I got quite attached to my herb garden over the summer and loved being able to just nip outside, snip off some herbs and add some vibrant fresh flavour to our meals. Far better flavour and much more economical than buying small bags of herbs every week from the supermarket where half of them end up going off.
Of course over the winter, our herbs were almost entirely killed off by the rain and cold. There is just some lone parsley and coriander standing strong against the British elements.
This means I need a total replenishment of the herbs and went straight to speed dial to mum and dad to help me out/get me back up and running! Except this time, I threw in getting the newly inherited garden up to scratch too.
Luckily for me, my parents are super keen gardeners. I got married in their garden nearly three years ago and they managed to transform the garden into a sea of purple to match the colour theme of the day. Everyone commented on how beautiful the garden looked and the wonderful vintage bunting draped the house, stables and barns, of course, sewn together by mum.
Yesterday I handed over a set of keys to my house and I’m already looking forward to coming home to find a tidied up garden and two new troughs of herbs to take me through the rest of the year… hopefully in the not too distant future. (Hint, hint M&D!)
Like most avid bloggers, you end up signing up to lots of other blogs to see what everyone else is up to and read about other people’s food adventures. A recipe about a bay leaf pound cake from 101 Cookbooks popped up in my inbox and it instantly took my fancy as a cake to try out. I’d never thought about using herbs in a cake, although I do love basil ice cream, so clearly there was no reason why herbs used in this way shouldn’t work.
I didn’t have a tin to make a pound cake and as my mum said “you can’t have a tin for every cake out there or we’d have no room in our kitchen cupboards for anything else” so I improvised with a 9” cake tin instead which worked just as well.
The cake was just sublime.
The hint of bay leaf provided a gentle undertone against the zing of orange zest and the extra sweet crunch of sweet orange on top conjures up similarities of Mary Berry’s famous lemon drizzle tray bake.
The cake is incredibly light and whilst on paper you question the bay leaf, it really does create the most perfect spring time cake. The cake is wonderful on its own for afternoon tea or with a dollop of crème fraiche if you fancied it for dessert.
If you’re thinking of baking a cake for Mother’s Day this Sunday, then please let it be this one. She will love it! I promise.
Bay leaf cake with an orange glaze
Makes 1 x 9” cake
For the cake:
85g unsalted butter
10 fresh bay leaves
230g all purpose flour
200g granulated sugar
1tsp baking powder
½ tsp fine sea salt
3 large eggs at room temp
125g sour cream
Finely grated zest of two orange (the recipe states one, but I like the extra orange flavour)
½ tsp vanilla extract
For the orange glaze:
140g icing sugar
2 tbsp orange juice
Melt the butter in a small saucepan and then remove from the heat and add 3 bay leaves. Leave for an hour.
Preheat your oven to 180 degrees and butter your 9” cake tin. Dust the tin with flour and tap out the excess. Line the bottom of your tin with baking paper to ensure your cake comes out a little bit easier after baking.
Dip a little of the melted bay leaf butter on to your remaining 7 bay leaves and space evenly on the bottom of your cake tin.
In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients including the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
In a small bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients including the eggs, sour cream, orange zest and vanilla.
You might need to warm up your butter again to liquify it again, but then pluck out your bay leaves before adding it to your egg mixture and combine well.
Using a spatula, gently combine the egg mixture to the dry ingredients until you have a smooth batter. Be careful not to over mix it.
Scarpe the batter into your prepared cake tin being careful not to move your bay leaves too much that are laid out in the bottom of the tin.
Bake for 40-50 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean.
Remove from the oven and leave to cool for 20 minutes before removing the leaves from the bottom of the cake and then leave to cool completely on a wire rack.
Whilst the cake is cooling, make your glaze by combining the icing sugar and orange juice until you have a smooth mixture that you can spread evenly over the cake. Don’t worry about it dripping over the sides, this will just add to its character and flavour.
Serve on its own or with a healthy dollop of crème fraiche on the side.