Let Them Eat Cake!
Two cake recipes in quick succession! My inner baker is clawing to get out!
To be completely honest though, you wouldn’t have known this if it hadn’t been for the intervention of Sarah at the Headhouse Farmers Market yesterday. See, this cake, while ridiculously delicious, was a bit of a visual disaster. And it’s entirely my fault because the inspiration for this recipe was a gorgeous photo on Tastespotting (for the food porn lover in all of us) so I know it can be made to look lovely. I was telling Sarah about my hesitation to post the recipe since I didn’t feel comfortable with the photo of the final product. But she wisely observed that food blogs are as much about their “trial ‘n error” realism as they are about the pretty pictures.
So it is that I come humbly to you with this wonderful recipe and a few words of advice. First, use a round cake pan. I thought I could get away with not washing up the dirty one in my sink by using my sheet cake pan. While the cake baked up just fine (and in shorter time than expected, due to being more spread out, I guess), it was thin and my haphazard attempt to rectify the situation by cutting it in half and making a two layer square-ish cake just didn’t prove as successful as I had hoped. If this cake were to be iced with a thick frosting, it would have been fine. But the icing is exactly where I hit my second and biggest snafu.
I’ve made plenty of icing/glazes before but none with lemon juice. Perhaps I was just high on rosemary fumes and added more than I realized or perhaps lemon juice reacts differently with confectioners’ sugar than milk does. Whatever the case, my icing (which, in my defense, was initially the right consistency) never set up on the cake. Instead, it ran hastily over the sides and pooled mockingly on the plate. Indeed, the flavor was superb, but the visual was rather dismal.
I hung my head in shame and did my best to take a respectable photo.
And then I finally ate a piece of cake.
Wow! WOW! I’d had my doubts about lemon rosemary cake. They were instantly swept away in a rush of savory sweet citrus delight. Each bite got better and better. And the next day it was even better! Everyone who has tasted it was equally enamored. Moist and springy with a nice thick crumb, this dandy is a cross between pound and sponge cake. Surprisingly filling! Since it’s ever so slightly savory, it lends itself to breakfast fare and a nice cup of green tea on a late Sunday afternoon after a heady farmers market trip.
Oh, and before I forget, this rosemary is still some of that same amazing batch my coworker gave me the other week. Really fresh rosemary (i.e., not what you get in the supermarket that’s already been in the package for 2 weeks) keeps a very long time when sealed in a ziplock bag with a slightly damp towel and put in the crisper drawer of the fridge. This recipe is another one of those instances when dried rosemary just will not do. If you can’t get your hands on fresh rosemary right now, make a note to yourself to buy a little plant of it to put in your garden or a sunny window sill so you can make lemon rosemary cake to your heart’s content. Don’t forget my few words of advice, but most importantly, don’t write a dish off based on its looks. While it may not be a book, you still shouldn’t judge it by its cover (or, in this case, its icing).
LEMON ROSEMARY CAKE
Adapted from My Feasts
2 c. of all purpose flour
1 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1 3/4 c. sugar
2 sticks (16 T.) of margarine or unsalted butter (@ room temp)
6 eggs (@ room temp)
1 T. lemon zest
1 1/2 t. vanilla extract
1/2 c. fresh lemon juice (takes about 5 lemons)
1 t. fresh chopped rosemary, very finely chopped
1 large whole sprig of rosemary
3 T. milk
1 c. confectioners’ sugar
3+ T. lemon juice
Begin by zesting and then squeezing your lemons for the juice. Set both the zest and juice aside. Place the milk in a small sauce pan along with the sprig of whole rosemary. Heat over very low heat just until the milk begins to steam. Remove from heat and allow to steep while you prepare the rest of the batter.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a cake pan (9 inch or bundt pan work well) that you will be using. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
Cream together butter and sugar until well combined, pale and creamy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla and lemon zest to the mixture and combine well before adding the lemon juice and mixing it until it’s just incorporated. The lemon juice will react with the baking powder to add air into the batter so be gentle from here on out so as to keep from deflating the batter too much.
Slowly add the flour, salt and baking powder and mix carefully just until combined. Going back to the rosemary milk, remove the rosemary sprig and measure out 2 tablespoons of the milk. Add it and the chopped rosemary to the batter and gently fold in until distributed evenly. Pour into prepared cake pan and bake in the middle of oven till cake is done, about 35-45 minutes, or when a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.
Allow cake to cool completely before glazing. To make the glaze, combine the confectioners’ sugar with enough lemon juice to make a smooth, but not runny, liquid. Pour glaze over top of cake and allow it to run down the sides of the cake. Leave glaze to set up for several minutes before serving. Garnish with a little sprig of rosemary or some lemon peel.
Okay, so this picture isn’t so bad. But it could have been a lot prettier!
It’s this picture that was the soure of my humility.