I love herbs. They bring so much taste, zest and greenness in the kitchen especially during the dullest of months. They are generally used in cooking I know, but I was really intrigued when I was flipping through Nigella’s books and found a recipe for a cake with rosemary. And incidentally, after making this I realised that it is quite a popular dessert too. I do have a confession though: rosemary is not one of my favourites. I cannot pinpoint exactly why; maybe because of it’s sometimes soapy taste and woody texture, or it could be simply because of it’s pointy shape. But there’s an endless list of savoury stuff using this particular herb, and you can be as creative as you want. It is great with chicken, though lately I don’t bother with it and use sage or tarragon instead, which works great for me.
Now I must say here that this cake was not very popular among those who had a taste. The cake itself was fine, but the rosemary bit was not to everyone’s liking. I was not surprised, but I loved not only the taste, but the aromatic smell wafting through my kitchen while it was in the oven. So even if I scared you off at the start (really…I didn’t mean to) I would recommend you give this a go. You could always serve it with some raw fruit, or a fruit compote if it’s not your cup of tea when eaten on it’s own. So here’s the recipe, taken from Nigella’s How to be a Domestic Goddess with minor variations. You need a loaf tin for this.
- 250g unsalted butter, softened
- 200g caster sugar
- 3 eggs
- 210g self-raising flour
- 90g plain flour
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons dried rosemary, chopped but not too much
- 60ml milk (I used semi-skimmed)
- 2 tablespoons caster sugar, set aside for sprinkling the top
Preheat your oven to 170ºC/around 350ºF/Gas Mark 3, and line a tin loaf with some butter and baking paper.
Cream the sugar and softened butter till everything is pale and light. Beat in the eggs slowly, preferably one by one, alternating with one spoon of flour.
Add the vanilla extract, then all the remaining flour. Now it’s time to add the rosemary.
To give the batter a slightly more liquidy consistency add the 4 tablespoons of milk and mix till it’s combined with the batter.
Pour your mixture into the prepared loaf tin and sprinkle the 2 tablespoons of caster sugar on top. Bake for approximately 1 hour, until a knife comes out clean.
This cake will keep well for several days if stored in an airtight container. Like all Madeira mixtures it is ideal for tea-time. Enjoy!