Love an odd herb like lemon balm, me. Yes, the thymes and sages of the world are fine and all, but it’s the weird ones I like. The un-buyables – chervil, lovage, sweet cicily – all unique in flavour, all virtually impossible to buy from anywhere other than a specialist. If you want them, you’ll just have to grow them.
Lemon balm is an un-buyable. At least in most food shops. It does crop up at garden centres sometimes. Usually slightly yellowing and bedraggled, stuck in the 50% off section looking forlorn. I found one such plant a couple of years ago, felt sorry for it, bought it, bunged it in the ground, forgot about it (as usual) and it’s gone bonkers. Huge and vigorous with green-gold leaves, it has taken over one corner of the flower bed. Lemon balm, let me tell you, is a grateful plant.
However, it is so often relegated to the discount aisle in plant shops because, let’s be frank about this, it smells of Jif (or Cif, to those under 25). And what is anyone going to cook that they would want, intentionally, to smell of toilet cleaner?
Well, this. With such a singular fragrance, lemon balm doesn’t play nicely with other flavours, so it needs to be centre stage. It also needs a far whack of sugar to balance out the citronella vibes. This, fortunately, makes it perfect for an adaptation of lemon drizzle cake.
The recipe below is adapted from a Mary ‘National Treasure’ Berry recipe for lemon drizzle and it’s a lovely, quick way of using up your lemon drizzle glut.
If you like this you might also like my courgette and lime cake recipe which has a similar citrus vibe. Plus it helps work through the current National Courgette Mountain we’re all experiencing.
Finally, the more technical amongst you might have noticed that today’s recipe looks neater than usual and has an orange ‘Yum’ button by it. This is thanks to my new tech toy – Yummly. If you like the recipe, please do press said orange button. This way the internet robots will know the recipe is nice and will scurry off to tell the lovely and very very popular Yummly recipe site that they must feature it immediately. Plus, it does make it all look tidier, doesn’t it. I thank you.