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Finger limes

It is the time of the season for finger limes. They have them at Southlands. There seem to be plenty of ideas about what to with these things, like putting them on oysters or using them in salad dressing but we decided we wanted to see what happened when you baked with them. Would they be a substitute for the other kind of lime? What could we make with them?

The finger lime’s botanical name is Citrus Australasica and as you can guess from the name, they are an Australian native. They look like a finger, hence their common name, and they come in different colours though they are usually a browny-green colour. When you break them open, they are full of little pearlescent globules that have an effervescent tangy flavour when you chew them. You can dry the peel and use it as a flavouring though that sounds like a hassle. They’re pretty easy to grow but if you do grow them you will almost certainly get more than you can ever possibly use.

The limes usually available to buy are Persian limes. They’re hybrids and formed from crossing key limes and lemons. But we are not here for a lesson in botany and neither do we need to know a whole lot about finger limes to be cook with them. You cannot quite use them instead of the limes we normally buy but you can use them to augment them. The “finger lime caviar” - as some are wont to call the little pearls of flavour (more properly called “vesicles”) - turns into brownish specks as it is baked but it seems to release its flavour as it does so.

So, here are a couple of easy recipes. Of course, you’ll need flour, but it seems everyone has been panic-buying that. Of course, I know that you haven’t been doing that and neither did we.

Finger lime cupcakes

Ingredients

1 cup flour

¾ cups self-rising flour

115 gm butter

1¼ cups sugar

2 eggs

1/8 cup finger lime caviar and 1/8 cup fresh lime juice, mixed together

1 tbsp lime zest

¼ tsp green food colouring

¾ cup buttermilk

Icing

1 cup icing sugar

2 tbsp lemon juice


Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 175°C, line muffin pans with pretty paper liners (or even ugly liners; it won’t affect the taste) and set them aside

2. Sift the flours together in a medium bowl

3. In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter until smooth. Add the sugar and beat to blend. One at a time, add the eggs.

4. Add the lime caviar and lime juice, lime zest and food colouring. (Note that when you add the limes and food colouring, the mixture may look curdled.)

5. Beat in the flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the buttermilk in 2 additions.

6. Fire the batter into the muffin pans – you will get 15 muffin-sized cakes out of the quantities here

7. Bake the cupcakes for 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean.

8. Let the cupcakes sit for 10 minutes then transfer them to a wire rack to continue cooling.

9. To make the icing, sieve about a cup of icing sugar into a bowl and add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice a little at a time. Be cautious here … too much liquid in you will be in a world of pain.

10. Once the cakes are cool, smear the icing over them … and eat them.


Note: You may ask: how green is green? Well, you just go for it. If you’re baking for kids, I guess the more garish they are the quicker they will be eaten.

Finger Lime Biscuits

Yield 35 biscuits 20 gm each

Ingredients

Dry stuff

Mix together and sift:

250 gm plain flour

1 tsp baking powder

¼ tsp salt

¼ tsp nutmeg

¼ tsp cinnamon

Wet stuff

Mix together:

185 gm room temperature butter

220 gm castor sugar

Lime juice mix

1 tbsp finger lime zest (approx 8 small finger limes)

2 tbsp lime juice

2 tbsp Finger lime pearls

Rolling stuff

Mix together the following in small bowl to roll biscuit dough in:

60gm castor sugar

¼ tsp nutmeg

¼ tsp cinnamon


Approach

1. Preheat conventional oven to 175°C and line 2 baking trays with baking paper

2. Cream butter and sugar in electric mixer until light and fluffy

3. Gradually add in lime juice mixture

4. Fold in flour about ½ cup at a time to form a pliable dough

5. Mould dough evenly into 15 – 20 gm balls about the size of walnuts

6. Dip/roll each ball in sugar/spice mix until well coated and an evenly shaped ball

7. Place onto baking trays and flatten with a glass (or similar) so that the biscuits are 3 – 4 cm apart as the dough spreads whilst baking

8. Bake 15 – 20 mins, rotating trays every 7 minutes. Biscuits are cooked when bases are golden, and edges start to colour

9. Leave them to cool and then get stuck in.

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