Tarragon may seem an unusual ingredient in a sweet cake, but its lovely hint of licorice pairs beautifully with blueberries and lemon. Moist with syrup, the cakes get a final flourish with a lemon icing and a scattering of pistachios.
75 grams butter (room temperature)
75 grams cream cheese (room temperature)
⅔ cup caster sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
finely grated zest 1 lemon
2 eggs, size 7 (large)
2 teaspoons very finely chopped fresh French tarragon leaves*
1 cup plain flour
¾ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 punnet blueberries, approx 125g
¼ cup caster sugar
¼ cup lemon juice
¼ cup water
1 tablespoon fresh French tarragon leaves*
1 cup icing sugar, sifted
4-5 teaspoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon chopped pistachio nuts, optional
Grease an 8 hole, 150ml capacity mini loaf tray and line with a strip of baking paper, bringing it up the narrow ends of the tin; or use ½ cup capacity muffin tin and line 9 of the bases with baking paper.
Preheat the oven to 150°C fan bake
Lemon syrup: Place all the ingredients in a saucepan and bring to the boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Simmer for 5 minutes then pour into a bowl and chill until the cakes are cooked.
Cakes: Beat the butter, cream cheese, vanilla and lemon zest together until very light and fluffy. Whisk the eggs together then gradually beat into the butter mixture, making sure each is well mixed before adding the next quantity. Beat in the tarragon.
Combine the flour, baking powder and salt and with the mixer on low. Add the flour mixture to the batter, stirring just enough to blend. Don’t over mix or the cakes will be tough.
Spoon into the tins and smooth the tops. Dot over the blueberries then bake for 17-18 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
Strain the syrup into a small bowl, discarding the tarragon. Brush or spoon the cold syrup evenly over the hot cakes.
Leave the cakes to cool completely in the tins.
Icing: Stir enough juice into the icing sugar to make a thick, smooth icing and spoon into a small plastic bag.
Snip a tiny hole in one corner of the plastic bag and drizzle the icing over the cakes. Scatter over the pistachios if using then leave to set. Makes 8 cakes.
Pantry note: If fresh French tarragon is not available, substitute fresh thyme leaves in the same quantities. Russian tarragon tends to be a little bitter. Dried tarragon is not suitable for use in this recipe.