We have friends who are completely baffled why we live (half of the year) in France. They have the impression that, away from the towns, the place is deserted. Dead as a dodo. They recall holidays where they have driven round from village to village for hours and barely seen a soul. All houses appear shut up and empty, almost like in a ghost town.
Well, dear readers, trust me when I say, you could not be further from the truth. Behind those shuttered windows and doors lie the real France, the goings on are way beyond your imagination and experience.....read on...…...
We are at the tail end of a heat wave. Yesterday we were in the middle of three days of "canicule" (the French word for heatwave) and believe me, it is flippin' hot. Yesterday the temperature was expected to reach 40C by teatime and it was hardly the ideal weather to hold a cake club meeting!
And sure enough, if you had driven around the village of Boussay in Touraine yesterday afternoon, you would have found the place deserted, all windows and doors shuttered against the heat and yet......an awful lot of cars parked along a certain street outside a certain house opposite the château and the sound of laughter and the clinking of glasses coming from within. Yes, it was a cake club meeting. Undaunted by the weather the members rose to the occasion and baked an amazing selection of cakes and bakes to the theme of "herbs".
And so I come to my blueberry, lemon and mint cake. I saw the recipe as a loaf cake on the Delicious Magazine website and also on a blog where the writer had baked it as a Bundt cake instead of a loaf. That was more my kind of thing so I decided to go for it.
It was lovely. A nice texture which held up well (with no buttercream to melt in the heat). I thought it had the right amount of mint but if I make it again (which I probably will) I would use double the lemons (use two instead of one) and use halve the quantity of blueberries. In spite of adding the fruit in thirds most of the blueberries sank to the bottom of the tin which meant they were bizarrely at the top of my Bundt cake.
I thought it looked much better without the drizzle which was rather like mint sauce and put a kind of green sludgy finish on it but....I doubt that anyone expects glamour from this kind of cake and it did have the effect of giving the cake just the right mintyness. I decorated mine with mint leaves, viola flowers and the rather weird looking flowers from our garden mint. Definitely one to be made again. You can see the recipe I used here and here for the Bundt version.
115g very soft butter
25g freshly picked mint leaves
250g blueberries (try 150g next time)
finely grated zest and juice of 1 large lemon (try 2 lemons next time)
250g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
2 large eggs, beaten
120ml whole milk
25g desiccated coconut
For the glaze
100g granulated sugar
Rinse and dry the blueberries and put into a bowl. Finely chop about a quarter of the mint leaves to yield roughly 1 tblsp. Add to the blueberries with one tsp of the lemon juice. Stir together and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 180C / 160 fan / gas mk4. Butter a 900g loaf tin or a Bundt tin.
Using an electric hand mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy (this will take longer than usual due to the high proportion of sugar). Beat in the lemon zest then the eggs, one at a time, adding a little flour with the second egg.
Beat in the milk then fold in the flour. baking powder and coconut.
Spoon one third of the mixture into the tin followed by one third of the blueberries. Repeat twice, ending with a layer of blueberries. Bake for 60-70 minutes until done.
While the cake is cooking make the glaze by putting the rest of the mint leaves and 2 tblsp of the granulated sugar into a mini processor or pestle and mortar and process until a paste is formed. Stir in the lemon juice and set aside.
When the cake is cooked leave in the tin for ten minutes then turn out if using a Bundt tin, leave in the tin if using a loaf tin.
Press the mint mixture through a fine sieve or tea strainer into a bowl or jug and stir in the remaining granulated sugar. Pour the liquid over the cake and leave to cool completely.
If you like you can add a further drizzle of icing made with icing sugar and lemon juice. Decorate as desired.
Cuts into 10-12 slices.