Long ago, I wanted an herb garden, but got waylaid by many other interesting plants. I notice, though, that my garden is turning into an herb garden, after all. St. Fiacre, the patron saint of gardening, presides over golden lemon balm, sage, basil, a pot of rosemary, valerian, oregano, apple mint, lavender, and soft mats of thyme.
Yesterday, after a turn in the garden, I riffled through my herb file and found a recipe for a pound cake flavored with lemon thyme. I have golden lemon balm, and decided to use that. (There are many lemon herbs, so many that there is a whole book devoted to them.) Lemon basil would also be interesting here.
As it turned out, this little cake is delicious: the creamy, fine-grained cake is showcased by the tart lemon glaze.
Lemon Balm Tea Bread
3 ounces cream cheese softened
3 tablespoons butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
1 tablespoon chopped fresh lemon balm leaves
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel
Lemon Glaze (recipe follows)
Grease an 8x4x2″ loaf pan; line with parchment paper, and grease lightly again. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese and butter until smooth and fluffy. Add the sugar, beating well again. Add the egg and beat until smooth.
In a small bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder and salt. Sift into the butter/egg mixture alternately with the milk, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Stir in lemon peel and chopped lemon balm leaves. Spread batter into prepared pan. Bake for 45 minutes. Cool in pan for about 10 minutes. Remove and place on plate.
Make glaze. Mix together 1/2 cup powdered sugar, 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel and about 2 teaspoons of fresh lemon juice. Drizzle over still warm cake.
Baking notes: This can be made with a spoon–just be sure to thoroughly cream the softened butter and cream cheese. When you add the milk and flour, the batter will be slightly lumpy–this is okay. If you don’t have herbs, the cake will still taste delicious and lemony with only the grated lemon peel.
Below: Lemon balm, cream cheese showing how to cut three ounces off, batter, making the lemon glaze, and a book on lemon herbs.