Emma’s Cake {ginger and lemon verbena friands}

Yesterday, the world lost a brilliant soul.

I first met Emma when I began my studies in naturopathy and nutrition. She was young, vibrant, super intelligent and probably one of the calmest people I had ever met. She was also magnificently kind, and as we now know, incredibly brave.

Over time she became not only a good friend, but a mentor of sorts in navigating the world as a new practitioner. She was… I still can’t believe I am writing “she was”. She was a light.

So today I did the thing I do when the world is not right for me, I baked.

I thought about what Emma loved and I am pretty sure she would have loved what I came up with. Gluten free, enriched with nourishing ghee, fresh herbs, and a good hit of ginger. Yum.

While I cooked, I thought about Emma, but I also thought about others.

I thought about my friend in the school playground this morning and the discussion about weight measures in recipes over cup measures, and made sure to take note of the weight for this one!

I thought about my husband and my kids, and how they make my heart hurt with love.

I thought about a conversation with my sister, and how grateful I am for her.

I thought about a new friend, and how she reminds me of Emma’s calm.

And I spent a little too long running my fingers through the mix of dry ingredients, because it feels nice.

So I hope you love these, and maybe bake them one time for someone you love.

Recipe notes:

The ingredients calls for 5 egg whites. I know, I know, I am not normally a fan of having leftover yolks, but in this case I wanted a particular texture to the cakes which needed the lightness. So, ideas for using those egg yolks include: a lovely custard, lemon curd, hollandaise sauce, mayonnaise, aioli, home-made ice-cream, and some of these ideas look pretty great! Also, you can freeze them!

The second thing to note is that not everyone may have access to lemon verbena. I love to use it as it is wonderful and calming on the digestive system, and is also a mild nervous system relaxant to help ease stress. Also, it tastes delicious! But if you can’t get your hands on any, lemon balm would make a lovely substitute. It is also calming to the digestive and nervous systems, and has a beautiful mild flavour. You might also experiment with thyme, perhaps reducing the amount used.

[headline]Emma’s Cake[/headline]

185g ghee

50g buckwheat flour

150g almond meal

100-125g coconut sugar

1 1/2 tbsp finely chopped lemon verbena leaves (you could substitute lemon balm)

1 tsp ground ginger

1 1/2 tbsp lemon juice

5 egg whites

Stem or crystallised ginger for decorating (optional)

Preheat the oven to 190 degrees Celsius.

Melt the ghee in a saucepan and set aside.

Combine the buckwheat flour, almond meal, coconut sugar, verbena and ginger, and stir well to combine and dissolve any big lumps.

Whisk the egg whites until just firm – they don’t need to be super stiff peaks, but fluffy is nice.

Add the ghee and lemon juice to the dry mix and stir to combine.

Stir around a third of the egg whites through the mix until incorporated.

Add the rest of the egg whites and gently fold through until only just combined. It’s okay if you can still see small bits of white, better that way than to over-mix and deflate the egg whites.

Spoon into a well-greased 12 hole muffin tin, or patty pans if you prefer.

Pop into the oven and bake for about 13-15 minutes, or until golden on top and springy to touch in the centre. Again, better to under-bake these than over-bake – they should be lovely and moist.

Allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then remove to cool completely on a wire rack.

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