We’ve just returned to Amsterdam after a three week, whirlwind road trip through Germany, Austria, Italy, Spain and France. We were so lucky and grateful to be able to join our friends in their van for the amazing journey. As well as staying in a few funny little campgrounds along the way we were also able to find some free-camping spots in the most magical settings; amidst mossy pine forests, in the valleys of the snow capped Alps, next to rushing glacier rivers lined with wild thyme and oregano, and nestled (hidden) amongst the vineyards in Tuscany. We were also shown some beautiful hospitality by friends in Germany and Italy and stayed in some cute little apartments in Rome and Paris, where I was grateful to do some cooking on a real chopping board, with a real knife, rather than on a plank of wood with a pocket knife (although I do really love camping cooking).
After three weeks in the van, we arrived in Paris, in the midst of a heatwave, and in dire need of a good shower, a soft bed, and some clean clothes. It was too hot during the day to wander the streets of Paris for more than a couple of hours at a time so I resided in our tiny apartment’s kitchen and did some cooking. With a glass of wine and some french radio playing, I couldn’t help but feel I was getting a better Parisian experience than the hoards of people lined up to go up the Eiffel Tower.
If you can’t find goat’s milk yoghurt for this you can use regular natural yoghurt instead. You could also replace the lemon zest with orange or mandarin and change the plums and red currants to whatever fruit is in season in your area.
Recipe (adapted from Delicious Magazine UK)
175g butter, softened
350g caster sugar
Seeds from 1 vanilla bean
Finely grated zest of 2 lemons
3 large free range eggs
350g plain flour
200g natural goats milk yoghurt, plus extra to serve
1 tbs baking powder
2 tbs fresh thyme leaves, roughly chopped
6 small golden plums
250g fresh red currants
175g icing sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp boiling hot water
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
Pre-heat oven to 160 degrees celsius. Grease a 24cm bundt or ring shaped cake tin with butter (use a regular cake tin if that’s all you have).
With electric beaters, cream the butter, sugar and vanilla together, for about 5mins, or until light and fluffy. Beat in the lemon zest and then beat in the eggs, one at a time, adding a tablespoon of flour with the second and third egg.
Spoon half the yoghurt into the mixture, sift over the baking powder with a pinch of salt, and half the remaining flour, then fold in. Repeat with the remaining yoghurt and flour, along with the thyme.
Spoon the mixture into the tin and bake, for about 50-55mins, or until golden brown and springs back to the touch. Leave to cool in the tin for 5mins and then turn out onto a wire rack over a baking tray.
For the icing, sift the icing sugar into a bowl, add the lemon juice and water and mix until smooth. While the cake is still slightly warm, spoon over the icing, letting some run down the sides. Sprinkle with the time leaves and leave to set.
Slice the plums and fill the middle of the cake with them, allowing them to spill out and over. Add some currants on top and around the cake. Serve with the extra yoghurt.