Viola syrup

Viola syrup

By
From
Sticky Fingers Green Thumb
Makes
12
Photographer
Tara Pearce, Tim Hillier

These little tea cakes are soaked in irresistible honey-lemon tones from the purple-tinged viola syrup. A dollop of sharp labneh – a strained yoghurt with the texture of goat’s cheese – is a nice switch from regular cream, and creates the perfect vessel for the syrup to linger. Make your own labneh by hanging full-fat Greek-style yoghurt in muslin (cheesecloth) and squeezing out the liquid until it’s a firm, creamy ball.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
250g unsalted butter
230g caster (superfine) sugar
2 vanilla beans, split lengthways and seeds scraped
3 eggs
125ml milk
300g plain (all-purpose) flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
500g labneh

Viola syrup

Quantity Ingredient
3 tablespoons violas, plus extra to decorate
250g sugar
500ml water

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 175°C. Line a 12-hole standard muffin or friand tin with paper cases.
  2. Cream the butter, sugar and vanilla seeds together in a bowl with a hand-held mixer, or in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, until light and fluffy. Gently beat in the eggs one at a time followed by the milk, flour, baking powder and salt to form a batter.
  3. Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake for around 45 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of one of the tea cakes comes out clean.
  4. While the tea cakes are baking, make the viola syrup. Using your hands, rub the violas into the sugar in a bowl until the flowers are thoroughly mashed (you want maximum petal power in here, so don’t be afraid to be rough). Add the viola sugar mixture and water to a saucepan on a low heat and stir to dissolve, then increase the heat to medium–low and simmer for 15 minutes, or until the mixture is thick and syrupy.
  5. Remove the tea cakes from the oven and pour a tablespoon of the warm syrup over each while still hot. Leave to cool slightly in the tin for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool completely.
  6. To serve, spoon a generous dollop of labneh on top of each cake. Finish with a generous drizzle of the remaining syrup and decorate with the violas.

Tough and teeny

  • A colourful ground cover for vegetable patches, violas can tolerate cool shade from towering edible neighbours and shivery conditions from frosty mornings. Mightier than they appear, they even help banish pests like aphids and cabbage moth.
Tags:
desserts
sweets
cakes
vegetables
herbs
gardening
nature
baking
edible flowers
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