Lemon Verbena‘s ancient history goes as far back as Druids in religious ceremonies. It was considered the “Herb of Grace.” The name is derived from ancient Celtic word “fer” meaning to drive away and “faen” for stone, the ability to expel kidney stones. Maximilian of Mexico renamed it Yerba. It is very common for Lemon Verbena to be adulterated with cheaper lemon oils like Lemon Thyme or Litsea Cubeba. It has a nice lemon floral scent. It needs to be highly diluted if using it in a non-cooking or baking method. Even in baking or cooking one drop will usually do it.
This recipe I used for a light breakfast bread/cake for one of our classes. I used only 1/2 cup of sugar since I did not want it to be overly sweet. If you are using this for a dessert, you can increase the sugar to 1 cup. The original recipe was created by Carolyn Weil.
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
- 1 tsp. of baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, soften
- 1/2 cup of sugar
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 1/2 cup of buttermilk
- 1 drop of Lemon Verbena Essential Oil
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 3 to 4 Tbs. of confectioner’ sugar
Heat the oven to 325 degrees. Spray loaf pan (8x5x3″) with nonstick coating.
Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt until well blended. With an electric mixer or paddle attachment with a standing mix, beat the butter until it’s very pale and little tails have formed. Sprinkle sugar over the butter and beat until slightly fluffy. Scrape the sides of the bowl well. Add the eggs one at a time, beating until blended before adding the next one.
With the mixer on low, add 1/3 of the flour, mixing until almost combined; then add half the butter milk until just combined. Repeat ending with the flour. Just before all the flour is incorporated, switch to a stiff rubber spatula. Add one drop of Lemon Verbena and complete the mixing of the flour into the batter.
Scrape the batter into into the prepared pan and bake until cake is golden brown and a toothpick comes out with just a few crumbs when inserted in the center, 45-50 minutes. Let the cake cool on a baking rack for about 10 minutes. As it cools, stir together the lemon juice and confectioners’ sugar in a small bowl. Carefully invert the loaf pan, tap to release the cake. Brush the syrup on the cake while it’s still warm. Cool completely on the rack before serving.