There are three ingredients that always make me think of Provence and the South of France – olive oil, lemons and fresh thyme…
Olive trees were introduced to France more than 2500 years ago and flourished due to the dry soil and agreeable climate. Groves of olive trees can be seen throughout Provence which now accounts for 70% of France’s olive oil (known as “green gold”) production.
Lemons are celebrated throughout southern France, most notably at the Fete du Citron held every year in Menton.
Many herbs grow wild in Provence and savvy home chefs know where to harvest thyme should their “potager” not suffice.
These delicious little cakes really are a taste of Provence and, garnished with berries, they’re mouth-wateringly delicious.
How to make Olive Oil, Lemon and Thyme Cakes
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
2 tablespoons grated lemon zest (from 2 lemons)
2 large eggs
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2/3 cup whole milk
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon finely minced fresh thyme, plus sprigs for garnish
Preheat the overn to 350 degrees.
Brush a 6-cup or 12-cup mini Bundt pan with the melted butter. Lightly dust with flour and shake out the excess.
Pulse the granulated sugar and lemon zest in a food processor equipped with the metal
blade (or use a blender) until combined.
Add the eggs one at a time, then gradually pour in the olive oil and milk, pulsing until emulsified into a thin batter, about 30 seconds. Don’t over-blend or the cakes will be too puffy.
Whisk 1 cup flour, the baking powder, salt and 1 teaspoon thyme in a small bowl. Add to
the food processor in 2 batches, pulsing lightly until just combined; stop to scrape down
the sides of the blender as needed.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until the cakes just begin to pull away from the sides of the pan and spring back when lightly touched, around 28 to 30 minutes for a 6-cup Bundt pan and 20-22 minutes for the 12-cup pan.
Allow to cool for 10 minutes, then loosen the sides with a small knife and tip the cakes onto a rack. Allow to cool completely.
To serve, dust with powdered sugar and garnish with fresh berries.
By Martine Bertin-Peterson of Gout et Voyage, cultural and gourmet tours of Provence where you’ll make heart-warming memories and visit the most magical markets…