This month's Cake Slice Bakers challenge is Lemon, Ricotta & Thyme Mini-Loaves from The New Way to Cake by Benjamina Ebuehi.
I've always wanted to try thyme in a sweet recipe and this looks like the perfect recipe for it.
First problem: no fresh thyme in three grocery stores I went to. Plenty of oregano and dill, but no thyme. I was going to order it for curbside pick up from Central Market, but the first available pick up date was April 24 - a six day wait! Since my cake is due on the 20th, no fresh thyme for me.
Instead of a tablespoon of fresh thyme, I used a scant teaspoon of dried thyme rubbed between my palms to bring out that wonderful aroma. Thyme actually has a slight lemony scent and I couldn't wait to try this combination.
This recipe for Lemon, Ricotta & Thyme Mini-Loaves makes 8 mini-loaves. Raise your hand if you have 8 mini-loaf pans. Right, that's what I thought - me neither.
I ended up making them in little meatloaf mini-pans. They're quite a bit larger than mini-loaf pans, so I only got 5 loaves out of the batter. That's OK. They're really cute and are a great size for giving as gifts.
They puffed up so nicely (2 teaspoons of baking powder will do that) and have such a soft, almost velvety texture. I used rather large lemons, so there was a lot of zest. The flavor, though, is really nice and lightly lemony.
The ricotta (over by the cream cheese in my store) gives these loaves that delicious, velvety texture. I love baking with ricotta because it's so creamy and different.
Don't be afraid of using thyme or any other savory herb in a sweet recipe. As long as you don't go overboard with the herb, it can really add a great flavor. These would be fantastic even without the thyme.
I love the way Benjamina uses herbs, flowers, and spices in her recipes.
They're really different and delicious without having a couple of inches of buttercream on top. Her cookbook is quickly becoming one of my favorite cake books.
- 1 C granulated sugar
- Zest of two lemons
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme
- ½ C sunflower or vegetable oil
- 1 C ricotta
- 2 eggs
- 1 ½ C all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoon baking powder
- Pinch of salt
- For the glaze:
- 1 ¼ C powdered sugar
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 8 fresh thyme springs (for garnish)
- Preheat the oven to 350°. Grease eight mini-loaf pans and line each bottom with a strip of parchment paper.
- Place the sugar and zest into a large bowl. Use your fingertips to rub the zest into the sugar to release essential lemon oils. Stir in the chopped thyme.
- Add the oil, ricotta and eggs and whisk until smooth. Gently stir in the flour, baking powder and salt just until mixed.
- Divide the batter evenly into the prepared pans and bake for 27 to 30 minutes, or until the loaves are lightly golden and a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Leave in the pans to cool for a few minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack. Cool completely.
- For the glaze: Put powdered sugar to a medium bowl and add enough lemon juice to make a thick-but-pourable glaze. Spoon glaze onto the loaves, letting it drip over the edges. Top with a sprig of thyme if you'd like.
Tips and Stuff:
If you can't find fresh thyme, use about 1 scant teaspoon of dried thyme, rubbed between your palms to bring out the aroma.
I didn't have sunflower or vegetable oil, so used canola.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 16 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 222Total Fat: 9gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 28mgSodium: 94mgCarbohydrates: 33gFiber: 1gSugar: 22gProtein: 4g
Nutrition Values are Approximate