When the email from Ricola landed in my inbox I was in my 10th day of a bad cold and methodically munching my way through a box of Ricola Original. It was practically kismet that I should help celebrate their 75th anniversary – because that’s how long that angular little candy has been around. I have been a fan for… well, I won’t say for how long exactly… but let’s just say a very long time! I remember it as a special treat from my childhood – I think it was brought back to Greece by my father whenever he went on trips abroad. I love its unique taste – made up of no less than 13 special herbs including elderflower, thyme, peppermint, sage and mallow. Although there are several other flavours of Ricola these days, including Lemon Mint, Elderflower and Cranberry, the original remains my favourite.
The ‘Original Ricola Herb Candy’ was invented in 1940 and has remained unchanged in 75 years. The 13 herbs that make up the original recipe (and also form the basis of all other Ricola products) are cultivated in the Swiss mountains without the use of pesticides and away from pollutants that might affect their quality, purity and taste. This family run company is not only careful to treat their farming partners fairly, they also promote biodiversity and respect the environment. They have set up the Ricola Foundation whose main activity is to support COLOSS, a network which coordinates research into understanding honeybee colony losses.
Lemon, Thyme, Ricotta and Semolina Cake
- 250 g | 8oz unsalted butter at room temperature plus a little more to grease the cake tin
- 250 g | 8oz caster sugar
- 250 g | 8oz smooth ricotta
- 150 g | 5.3oz fine semolina
- 150 g | 5.3oz plain all purpose flour, plus a little more to dust the cake tin
- 80 ml | 2.7oz lemon juice or you can use Limoncello
- 3 eggs
- 1 tbsp lemon thyme leaves very finely chopped
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- zest of 2 lemons
- 4-5 Ricola original crushed into a fine powder to decorate
- fresh thyme sprigs to decorate
- For the herb syrup
- 100 g | 3.5oz sugar
- 100 ml | 3.5fl oz water
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 sprigs lemon thyme
- 4 sage leaves
- For the glaze
- 200 g | 7oz icing sugar
- 1-2 tbsp lemon juice or milk
- Preheat the oven to 180C | 350 F. Grease a 20cm (8in) bundt cake tin with a little butter, covering all corners and edges. Dust with a little flour and shake out any excess.
- Beat the butter, sugar, thyme and lemon zest in a stand mixer (or use a hand mixer) until pale and fluffy. Stop the mixer and scrape the sides as needed.
- Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat to combine.
- Stir in the ricotta and lemon juice.
- Sift in the flour, semolina, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda. Stir everything together until the batter is smooth.
- Transfer the batter into the prepared bundt tin and level. Bake for 45 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Leave the cake to cool on a wire rack before carefully turning out.
- Put the sugar, water, lemon juice and herbs in a small saucepan and stir over low heat until the sugar is dissolved. Remove the herbs and brush the syrup liberally over the cake.
- Mix the icing sugar with enough lemon juice or milk to create a thick but pourable glaze. Drizzle it over the cake. Sprinkle with the crushed Ricola and decorate with a couple of thyme sprigs. The cake keeps really well for a few days.