Thursday, 30 August 2012

mini almond lemon thyme cakes (gluten free)

mini almond lemon thyme cake.

I love all things citrus, so it only makes sense that I love this herb called lemon thyme, with its refreshing fragrance and flavour, reminiscent of lemon zest, but with an additional, elusive herbal allure.

I had recently stocked up my pantry with some almond meal, which was just begging to be used in a baking project, so when I subsequently picked up a sleeve of lemon thyme from the markets not too long afterwards, the conclusion was clear: mini gluten-free lemon thyme almond cakes was the answer.

For my almond cakes, I decided to first create a lemon thyme syrup which does triple duty - it goes into the batter, pours over the cakes to finish, and the leftovers are beautiful as a cordial (which tastes remarkably like a more wholesome homemade version of the popular Australian lemon squash soft drink, Solo).

lemon thyme.

lemon thyme syrup / lemon thyme cordial

1 cup water
1 cup raw sugar
1 handful/bunch lemon thyme - I had about 10 sprigs, and I reckon the more the merrier*
1/2 cup lemon juice

Prepare lemon thyme by trimming and discarding the roots. Give them a good rinse to clean, then snip each sprig into sections so that they will fit in the saucepan later.
Bring water and sugar to boil over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar, then continue to let it boil, uncovered, for 2 minutes.
Turn off the heat and immediately immerse lemon thyme sprigs in the sugar syrup. Press down the lemon thyme so that the sprigs are completely submerged, and lightly bruise the leaves with a pestle or muddler.
Cover and steep for 30 minutes. Add lemon juice. Continue to steep for another 2 hours - preferably overnight for a greater flavour intensity. Strain before using.
This will make more than enough lemon thyme syrup for the cake recipe below. Just know that the syrup also makes a pretty awesome cordial. I mix it with cold sparkling or soda water to create a refreshing fizzy lemonade!

*I suspect other lemony herbs such as lemon verbena, lemon myrtle, lemon balm could work as substitutes. Otherwise, perhaps a couple lemons' worth of zest plus a few sprigs of regular thyme?

mini lemon thyme almond cakes.

mini almond lemon thyme cakes
(makes 6)


1 cup almond meal (100g)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup lemon thyme syrup
2 eggs
pinch of salt
olive oil, to grease 6 muffin cases

Preheat oven to 160°C/320°F fan forced (180°C/350°F conventional).
Mix almond meal and baking powder in a bowl.
Blend lemon thyme syrup, eggs and salt until smooth. Combine with almond meal mixture, stirring. Let the mixture sit for 5 minutes to absorb and thicken, then stir again to combine.
Divide the batter into 6 greased muffin cases. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
Remove from oven, prick the tops with a fork and trickle in about 2 teaspoons syrup for each mini cake.
Let them cool for at least 10 minutes before carefully removing from cases. These mini lemon thyme almond cakes should keep for at least 2 days in an airtight container on the counter, or 4 days in the fridge.
Serve on their own, with a cup of tea, or with a refreshing dollop of yoghurt, sorbet or ice cream.

cross section of mini lemon thyme almond cake.

50 comments:

  1. Oh yum! I adore lemony things - I used to eat lemon balm by the handful out of the neighbor's garden every year in the summertime.

    These cakes look incredibly good, and the cordial sounds fantastic.

    You have a popular soft drink made out of squash? Cool:)

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    1. I would so love to have access to a garden with lemony herbs.

      We just call sweet fizzy lemon drinks "lemon squash" around here - it doesn't have anything to do with the vegetable. Though, speaking of which, I've made zucchini tea before. Check out my archives. :D

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  2. This is honestly, honestly, honestly pretty much my favourite thing I've seen in a squillion moments. Lemon dessert, almond dessert, "savoury" herb in dessert.... oh I want it, I want it!

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    1. Awww, thank you! I'm glad it ticks all your boxes. ;)

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  3. Gorgeous. Your use of flavours is amazing as always!

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    1. Thank you! It's hard to go wrong with lemony goodness.

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  4. oh, oh, oh! i've had lemon cakes on my to do (to bake?) list for a while, and these look gorgeous! My only problem is that the lemon thyme has died down for the winter here in hobart. but my mum has lemon verbena, which i think is somehow lighter and sweeter smelling, so i may get some next time i see her and try that version. thanks for the nudge.

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    1. Oh, I imagine lemon verbena to be a lovely substitute. Do let me know how it goes! And thanks for dropping by. :)

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  5. Delicious! I love this flavor combination. Looks like just the friday afternoon tea snack I'm craving.

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    1. This is definitely afternoon tea material. :D

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  6. there's nothing better than citrus fruit in all possible cakes :) I can smell these muffins all the way here in Europe :)

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  7. Okay, I have to try this lemon thyme! These look so beautiful, I love the hue on the cakes.

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    1. It's such a nice golden colour, isn't it? And the syrup gives it a pretty sheen, too.

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  8. That lemon-thyme syrup sounds absolutely incredible! I can think of so many uses. More than once I've opted out of a chance to buy lemon-thyme at the farmer's market, because I never knew how I would use it up... now I know! And these cupcakes would for sure be top of the list.
    Also, I saw your comment on my blog (which led me here) and I just couldn't resist your header - brilliant title! Happy to be your newest follower, and I look forward to reading more. :)

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    1. Aw thanks! :) I do recommend trying out some lemon thyme next time you see them. They would also be lovely in savoury dishes like a roast chicken with potatoes.

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  9. Your lemon thyme almond cakes are now to blame for the few pounds I'm sure to gain by eating an entire batch by myself (which I intend to do tomorrow as soon as I purchase some almond meal). OMG they look and sound beyond tempting. Thank you, I think, for this new treat.

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    1. Ah, well, at least the recipe only makes 6 little cakes. ;)

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  10. What perfect looking little cakes! I love the combination of lemon and herbs in baked goods - will definitely be making these :-)

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    1. I agree, lemon and herbs make such a delicious combination! I could bake all sorts of things based on that theme alone...

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  11. I didn't plant lemon thyme this year, but I have in the past. I bet these little muffins are really good!

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    1. They're more cakes than muffins, but yes they're good! :)

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  12. Great idea, they look so moist! I love thyme, it's so pungent and great with sweet stuff...
    Thanks.

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    1. They are nice and moist thanks to the syrup, even if you leave them till the next day. :D

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  13. They are so cute :D And a triple duty syrup - most excellent.

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    1. Yes! Anything that makes things easier for me in the kitchen is always excellent. ;)

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  14. This is fantastic, Leaf! And your photos are truly exquisite here, I love it. And I love how there's so much use of the syrup, would love to make the cordial too. Reminds me of the time I made your passionfruit honey ice cubes last Summer and how much I loved it. Am sure these would be just as delicious and thirst quenching. Love the cake too I seriously love almond meal based treats. I know I've said this before, but you really DO have a talent for knowing what flavours go well together and producing a great recipe for em afterwards =)

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    1. Thanks, Winston! I was playing with Simon's DSLR, then Lightroom. :D
      I'm so glad you like my passionfruit honey ice cubes. So nice and easy, right? :D

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  15. Oh they look just simply gorgeous!!

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  16. My daughter has recently stopped having gluten (and now feels much better) so I am on the hunt for gluten free treats for her. She loves lemons so I am sure these will tickle her fancy ��
    Paola

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    1. Thanks Paola, let me know how you go if you try making this. :)

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  17. Great flavour combinations! I love the moreishness of almond meal in cakes - and any lemon flavored cakes - yum!

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    1. I find almond meal quite moreish and filling, too!

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  18. I love thyme. It goes with nearly everything :) I am always on the look out for gluten free recipes. They are much harder than people assume!

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    1. Yep, it's always so satisfying to get a gluten-free recipe right! :D

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  19. Fantastic!! I am in France right now and seeing all these bags of almond meal in the supermarkets and the herbs all around (I am in Provence) make me want to bake these little beauties asap!

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  20. I am also very much a citrus fan so I think I would definitely love these cute cakes ^^ I'm sure they would be bursting with flavour since you've put the syrup in the batter and over it.... mmmm.

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    1. Yeah they're cute aren't they, I love using muffin pans and mini loaf pans to make small cakes. :D

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  21. What beautifully flavoured mini cakes my friend :D
    Greatness!

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

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  22. I recently tried thime in tea. It adds a great scent and flavour. I never thought it could match well with sweet taste. I'll try this recipe!

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    1. It definitely matches! Just a note, though, lemon thyme is different to regular thyme. Lemon thyme is not as strong with actual thyme flavour, but it's zingier, zestier.

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  23. Yummy! These look sooo good! I have almond meal in the freezer and I have thyme growing like wild in my garden-- I think I'll have to give these a try soon! BTW, nice to meet you! :)

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    1. Nice to meet you! :) Just a word of caution though - regular thyme won't achieve quite the same sharp zingy effect here as lemon thyme.

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  24. Your photos are looking gorgeous, I love the first photo! Mouth is watering for afternoon tea already!

    These sound like fun little cupcakes though, thanks for sharing :D

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    1. Aw thanks, I used Simon's DSLR and then his Lightroom 4 for these photos. ;D

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