Forgotten Foods

Putting Australian native flavours back on the plate

Tales from Garden to Table

Lemon Myrtle - a little tree with a big future

Posted on 17 August, 2015 at 3:00 Comments comments (0)

Lemon Myrtle – Backhousia citriodora – is undoubtedly one of the most versatile of bush food plants. Its lemon scented leaves can be used to flavour both sweet and savory dishes, they can be used fresh or dried and as an infusion for a subtly flavoured yet very refreshing herbal tea. In addition to its culinary prowess it is also very high in Vitamin E, calcium and folate. Its unique lemony scent is also finding its way into cosmetics, soaps, scented candles and laundry detergents.

Despite being a subtropical rainforest plant it does surprisingly well in Melbourne, ours having come through this winter with no sign of frost burn or stress. Personally I think it would make an excellent street tree where passersby could pick a few leaves for their dinner or dessert. A small to medium evergreen tree it also puts on a lovely flower display in summer and if you’re looking for something to bring in the bees to pollinate your pumpkins then this could be just the ticket.

This recipe is an adaptation from and Italian ricotta cake that is, in my opinion, one of the best cheesecakes ever. It is light and luscious and very, very moreish. One thing I love about the Italian food philosophy is the way it embraces whatever ingredients are available. The Italians have never been scared to try new things and adopt new ingredients into their cooking. It is a cuisine that lends itself very well to experimentation with novel foods and its natural simplicity means it is easy to replace one ingredient for another as I have done here. I simply replaced walnuts with macadamias and a spoonful of ground wattle seeds, and the orange rind with lemon myrtle and you have a cake with Italian origins but a uniquely Australian flavour.

Lemon Myrtle and Macadamia Ricotta Cake


150g unsalted butter softened

150g caster sugar

5 eggs separated

250g ricotta (fresh if possible)

1 tbsp finely chopped lemon myrtle leaves

40g plain flour

115g macadamias toasted and roughly chopped

1 tsp roasted, ground wattle seed (optional)


Preheat oven to 180°C, grease a round baking tin and line with baking paper.

Cream the butter and 115g of the sugar until light and creamy. Add the egg yolks one at a time continuing to beat between each addition.

Beat in the ricotta, then add the lemon myrtle, flour and wattle seed (if using) and stir to combine.

In a separate, clean bowl beat the egg whites until soft peaks form then beat in the remaining sugar.

Add 1/3 of the egg whites to the ricotta mix and mix in gently using a large metal or wooden spoon. Add the remaining egg white in two batches and stir just enough to combine being careful not to overwork or you will lose the air in the mixture.

Poor into the prepared baking tin and bake for 30-40 mins. until fork comes out clean and the cake is springy.

Allow to cool in tin then spread with a little warmed jam (use lillypilly if you can to continue the Australian theme).

Serve with wattle seed tea or coffee.

ENJOY (I bet you can’t stop at just one piece).


Wattle seed and Lemon Myrtle syrup cake

Posted on 19 May, 2015 at 0:30 Comments comments (0)


I made this cake for one of my Bushfood classes and it went down a treat. The wattle seed adds a unique nutty, slightly chocolatey flavour to the cake while the Lemon Myrtle adds a twist to the traditional lemon syrup.


100g plain flour

¾ tsp baking powder

¼ tsp bicarb soda

50g butter

125g caster sugar

2 eggs

1/3 cup milk

3 tbsp. ground roast wattle seed

1 tbsp. lemon myrtle leaf finely chopped (fresh or dried)

1 tbsp. lemon rind



100g caster sugar

1/3 cup fresh lemon juice

3-5 lemon myrtle leaves



Pre-heat oven to 180oC. Grease and line a 20cm cake tin.

Cream butter and sugar till well combined then add eggs and beat until light and creamy.

Sift flour, baking powder and bicarb soda into the egg mixture.

Gently stir in the milk, wattle seed, lemon rind and lemon myrtle.

Spoon batter into prepared cake tin and bake for 30-35 mins or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes our clean. Prick the top of the cake all over with a fork and pour the syrup over the hot cake allowing it to soak in.



Gently heat sugar, lemon juice and lemon myrtle leaves until sugar is dissolved and mixture is syrupy.

Remove lemon myrtle leaves before pouring over hot cake.