Friday, 4 June 2010
A few days ago, my mum's lovely friend M. invited me around for dinner. She cooked us a truly yummy meal and then offered to pick me a punch of herbs from her garden to take home. She came back with a gorgeous bouquet of mint, chives, parsley and coriander. They're such a beautiful deep green.
To thank her for her generosity both that night and in the past few years while I've been here, I decided to make her a cake. I had bought a box of fresh blueberries to use in my Swiss Roll, but hadn't used them, so they formed my key ingredient. I also had a lemon left over from the lemon curd, so I had a look at foodgawker and came up with this recipe. I decided a loaf would be easiest to wrap and transport.
To include some of her wonderful herbs I steeped mint in a simple lemon syrup. I'm so glad I tried this out on a whim - it tasted fantastic. I would have happily sat down and consumed the whole bowl.
As my loaf tin is slightly smaller than the recommended 9" by 5" and I wanted the top to look attractive and not spill everywhere, I made four extra small cakes out of the mixture. Turns out there would have been space, but this meant I got to try some...
I was really pleased with this loaf recipe - it's a beautifully light sponge and very moist and tender. I'll definitely be using it again. The syrup finished it off with a lovely and slightly unusual note - a simple lemon juice and sugar crust would also be yummy if you don't have the mint.
Blueberry Loaf with Lemon and Mint Syrup
(loaf recipe from Italian Dish, here)
For the loaf:
225g caster sugar
250g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
120 ml milk
zest of a lemon
1 packet fresh blueberries (about 250g)
Preheat the oven to 175C/350F. Line a loaf tin with paper or grease well and flour. Cream the room temp butter and sugar together until very light and fluffy (five minutes or so). Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in another bowl. Add an egg and beat in on low, then add the other egg. You may need to add a tsp of the flour mixture in between. Alternately add a few tablespoons of flour and a splash of milk until fully combined. Stir in the blueberries and zest then spoon into the loaf tin. Bake for about 1 hr, testing with a skewer or similar. Leave to cool for five minutes before applying syrup (see below).
For the syrup:
juice of 1 big lemon
50g caster sugar
3-4 fresh mint leaves
Mix all the ingredients together in a small pan or a microwaveable jug - I just blasted mine for a few minutes, stirring regularly till the sugar had dissolved. You could also do this in a small saucepan. Leave to cool and steep while the loaf cooks. When it has cooled for five minutes, start brushing the syrup over the top with a pastry brush. Use a small knife or a skewer to make some incisions on the top at regular intervals and fill with syrup. Keep brushing over and letting it sink in until it is all absorbed. Leave to cool fully then slice.