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Lemon Thyme Butter Cake

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Recipe by: Chef John V.
Note: This Lemon Thyme Butter Cake is served with Alpine Strawberries & Sweet Cicely Creme Anglaise
Serving size: 8
Preparation time: about 1 hour 45 minutes


3 cups cake flour
1 tbsp. + 2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2/3 cup softened sweet butter
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup sugar
5 egg yolks
2 teaspoons chopped lemon thyme
1 cup + 1 tbsp. milk
1/4 cup melted sweet butter
cup confectioners sugar for garnish

Anglaise Sauce:
Amount Measure Ingredient
2 cups milk
6 egg yolks
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla

64 Alpine strawberries washed and dried
8 sweet cicely blossoms
8 sweet cicely leaves (kept moist and refrigerated until needed for garnish)
2 tablespoons chopped blossoms and leaves to add to the creme anglaise.


Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Prepare a 10 in. cake pan: butter, flour and/or line with parchment paper. (Silverstone cake pans are great!) Sift the flour and baking powder together. In a mixing bowl cream the butter with the sugar, salt and vanilla. Add the egg yolks one at a time and beat till fluffy, being sure to scrape down the bowl during and after each addition of egg yolks. Now add the sifted flour mixture a little at a time, alternating with the milk until all incorporated. Fold in the lemon thyme and melted butter and pour into the baking pan. Bake for about 25 minutes or until it tests done (toothpick inserted pulls out cleanly). Cool slightly (only a few minutes) and un-mold, hold till needed.

In a stainless steel sauce pan heat 1 1/2 cups milk with the sugar and vanilla till almost boiling. Meanwhile mix the egg yolks with the remaining 1/2 cup of milk. Temper the yolk mixture with a little hot milk by ladling a little of the hot mixture into the yolk mixture and stirring, then add the yolk mixture to the hot milk and cook, stirring constantly until slightly thickened. The mixture will ribbon off the back of a spoon. Immediately strain the mixture through a fine strainer into a container immersed in an ice bath and stir to cool.

Alpine strawberries and sweet cicely.
Alpine strawberries are wild strawberries, small sweet and succulent; fraises du bois in France. Specialty markets or roadside farms have these in the spring. There is really no substitute for them.

Sweet Cicely is a fern like herb that has a mild licorice flavor, very delicate leaves, fragrant white flowers and almost velvet looking. Easy to grow this perennial prefers a shady moist location with rich soil. Available from specialty supplies and local organic gardeners who supply the restaurant trade.

To serve:
Have ready 8 dessert plates. Slice the Lemon thyme cake into 8 portions and then dust with powered sugar. Place in the center of the plate so the tip of the cake faces 3 o'clock. This will be the serving direction. Place 2 ounces of the creme Anglaise (to which the chopped cicely has been added ) around and over the cake's tip. Nest 4 strawberries on the back side of the cake and a few around the plate. Garnish with the refrigerated blossoms and leaf.

Note: everything is best served at room temperature except the Creme Anglaise which should be chilled. This is a simple, tasty, delicately-flavored dessert.