Real Men Sow

Allotment Cakes for the Weekend #3: Good Food Magazine’s Orange & Rosemary Drizzle Cake

rosemaryI’m still waiting impatiently for big, thick stems of rhubarb, so once again it was the herb garden, and this time rosemary that made my allotment contribution to the weekend cake.

One of the best things about growing your own is that you’re always learning something new. Every day is a school day, if you will. Today I learned that rosemary and orange make a very pleasant combination, especially in a cake.

It has never occurred to me to use rosemary and orange together, particularly in cake baking, but ‘…it leaves a pleasant aftertaste…’ was my entirely non-technical and uninspiring recommendation as I offered a slice of this intriguing and rather moreish cake to a friend.

Ingredients
For the cake
200g caster sugar
200g softened butter
4 eggs , beaten
200g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp milk
finely grated zest of 1 orange
½ tsp very finely chopped fresh rosemary

For the buttercream
100g butter , softened
140g icing sugar , sifted
2 oranges
100g caster sugar
8 small sprigs rosemary

Method
1. Heat oven to 190C/fan 170C/gas 5. Butter two 20cm sandwich tins and line with non-stick baking paper. In a large bowl, beat all the cake ingredients together until you have a smooth, soft batter.
2. Divide the mixture between the tins, smooth the surface with a spatula or the back of a spoon, then bake for about 20 mins until golden and the cake springs back when pressed. Turn onto a cooling rack and leave to cool completely.
3. To make the buttercream filling, beat the butter until smooth and creamy, then gradually beat in icing sugar. Squeeze the juice from the orange and add to the butter cream.
4. Bring the juice of another orange, the caster sugar and the sprigs of rosemary to the boil in a small saucepan. Strain the syrup over the tops of the warm sponges – reserving the rosemary, cool, then sandwich together with the buttercream.
5. Decorate the cake with the candied rosemary.

Verdict in 2 Sentences
Smells a bit like roast dinner, but actually tastes like a herby, zesty dessert. The rosemary syrup is very addictive.

Not that I’m one to question professional chefs, but what would I do if I did it again?
Like the lemon and thyme cake I made a few weeks ago, I’d increase the herb in the cake mix. I’d also prick some holes in the cake before I drizzled the syrup over the top, making a trickle cake rather than a drizzle one. I think more flavour would have gone into the cake then.

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meIn 2007, I took on a redundant allotment plot with my gardening-mad mum Jan. As all good mums do, she went along with it, but I don’t think she held out much hope. However, over a decade later, and she now lets me do stuff without watching over my shoulder, so I must be doing something right. [ read more ]

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During 2011, I kept a diary of how much money I save from growing my own fruit and vegetables. After totalling all my outgoings, I saved approximately £500 over the year. I made a spreadsheet to calculate these savings - it’s nothing too complicated, as I’m no Excel guru, but hopefully someone else will find it as useful (and strangely fun) as me. For more info, visit my Money Saving Experiment page by clicking here.

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