Are flowers ever more welcome than when they come from a friend’s lovingly tended garden? Even better when they are coaxed by her through scissors placed encouragingly into the hands of your twin sons. These in this picture were chosen and cut with enthusiastic interest and the confidence that comes from being told you can. “She is very kind”, one boy said as we drove home, the other boy guarding preciously the jar of water and flora. And he is right – she is kind, and we are lucky.
This was a visit to a former personal chef client. She is a gardener extraordinaire and we were dropping a nectarine tarragon cake to her on a Saturday morning. The week previous she dropped us bunches of anise-y tarragon, as well as thyme and garlic scapes (eaten happily by the perceptive guy mentioned above), so I have been working all my creativity to use them. As mentioned, she is a talented gardener, so the bounty is large, often larger than can be easily used. But I am lucky enough to receive these so I work hard to honor the gift and use them up. I admit, sometimes I fail and don’t get to them all before they turn, but often I am able to use them in both new and expected ways. Thus, tarragon cake. Don’t underestimate the appropriateness of herbs in sweets. They may seem incongruent but that is exactly what makes them such a special addition, especially if paired with citrus or stone fruits, I find. I recommend you give this a try, and, if you know one, share it with a gardener.
Stone Fruit Tarragon Cake with Lemon Glaze
- ½ cup (one stick) unsalted butter, softened
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar
- ⅓ cup brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 cup flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 tbsp fresh tarragon, chopped
- ½ cup milk
- 3-4 stone fruit of choice, one or a mixture (nectarines, peaches, plums, apricots), sliced
- Juice of ½ lemon
- 1 cup powdered sugar
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Use butter to grease either a 9 inch round or 9 inch square cake pan. Cream butter and sugar in a mixer until butter has turned pale and the mixture looks a bit whipped. Mix in the eggs and vanilla. Add flour, baking powder and salt and mix until just incorporated. Mix in the milk. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and nestle the cut fruit on top. Place in the oven and bake for 40ish minutes, until firm and lightly browned. While it bakes, mix the lemon juice and powdered sugar to form the glaze, adding more lemon juice (or milk, if the lemon is dry) or powdered sugar as necessary to get a good drizzling consistency. When the cake is cooled, drizzle the glaze on top in any decorative pattern.