The Lemon Thyme Cake and The Time Traveler’s Wife

The Connection. The cake and the book are sugary sweet and easy to devour, with just enough bitterness to keep you interested. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it. (Okay, the inspiration actually came from the thyme/time pun, but I got a really big eye roll when I mentioned that earlier today. Apparently puns aren’t the highest form of humor, which is totally weird, because they’re amazing.)

Lemon Thyme Cake with Lemon Glaze

The Cake (Adapted from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking)

5 sprigs thyme
1 1/4 cups whole milk
2 sticks butter
1 3/4 cup sugar
4 egg whites
1 whole egg
1 lemon, zested
3 cups cake flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

The Frosting (adapted from Luscious Lemon Frosting)

2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 lemon, zested
3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons lemon juice (from zested lemon)
1 tablespoon water

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place buttered circles of parchment paper inside three cake pans (you will need to cut the parchment paper to fit). You could also make a one layer cake and use the rest of the batter for cupcakes like I did.

Pour the milk into a small sauce pan along with the thyme and scald (tiny bubbles will form around the edges, but don’t let it boil). Set aside, removing thyme right before it is used.

In a medium mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

Beat the egg whites and cream of tartar until soft peaks form and set aside.

Cream the butter for about 2 min. until soft, then add sugar and beat another 3 min. Add the egg and beat 1 min., then mix in the vanilla and lemon zest until just incorporated.

Turn the mixer to low. Mixing until just combined after each addition, pour in half the flour mixture, followed by the thyme infused milk, then the rest of the flour mixture. Gently fold in the egg whites.

Divide the batter between the prepared pans, and bake for 30–35 min.

While the cake is cooling, make the frosting. Beat the butter until smooth, then add the confectioners’ sugar and the zest and beat until the butter is mostly combined. Mix in the lemon juice and water, adding sugar or water as needed, and beat until smooth.

Spread about half a cup of frosting in between each layer of the cake. Stack the layers and spread a very thin layer of frosting over the entire cake, then refrigerate for 20–30 min. This is a crumb coat. When the frosting has hardened, spread the remaining frosting over the cake and smooth carefully. Decorate with additional lemon zest and a spring of thyme.

The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger (518 pages) ♥♥♥♥

“Time is priceless, but it’s Free. You can’t own it, you can use it. You can spend it. But you can’t keep it. Once you’ve lost it you can never get it back.”

The Plot. The story of a girl, Clare, who falls in love with Henry, an inadvertent time traveler.

Who should read it. Romantics and time-travel enthusiasts.

Why I liked it. Because it’s a delightful character romance between two incredibly likable people who exude the kind of cool and accomplishment to which most of us can only aspire. It’s sweet, quirky, and heartfelt. The story bridges genres, though a couple of those genres might not be worth bridging (we’re talking sci-fi, chick-lit, and good literature). The ending is poignant and touching, and it’s bound to make even the most stoic among you swallow hard. I also liked that Clare has a touch of Penelope in her. Only this story doesn’t belong to the character with the magical gift, it belongs to the one who waits for him.

My one hang up is that I bought into the story, but I didn’t really learn anything from the characters, and I suspect that’s because they are too perfect.  I prefer my characters deeply, tragically flawed. Or at least more flawed than I am. Otherwise, I feel like a poseur when I try to relate. (I’m not saying that I couldn’t be a stunningly gorgeous, talented and successful artist who comes from an old, rich family but manages to retain a carefree, unspoiled generosity and the capacity for completely selfless true love if I wanted to, I’m just saying I choose to be not quite that. Really.)

But the bottom line is that you should just read it, maybe in between a couple of hefty tomes that you “should” get under your belt. It might not be the best literature out there, but it’s hard to put down.

Notes.

  • This book reads like a lovely fairy tale, but most of the author’s other work is kind of dark and twisted. I’m not totally sure how I feel about this yet, but it’s interesting.
  • Also, Andrew Marvell’s poem is used sort of inaccurately but touchingly in the book. You might as well read it if you haven’t so that you get the reference. And because it’s a good poem.
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