Cakes where orange or lemon are predominant flavours are an important part of a baker’s repertoire. They make wonderful afternoon tea cakes and can be dressed up for dessert.
This is a lovely cake from Middle Eastern inspired cook Yotam Ottolenghi. I’m revisiting it in autumn in Sydney, as we are enjoying long warm days, perfect for cake and coffee in the sunshine!
The cake itself is flavoured with rosemary, and the orange and lemon icing gives the cake a great citrus tang.
Although there are few steps to the recipe, it’s actually quite easy. You could leave out crystallising the rosemary sprigs to save time, but the sprigs are a nice aromatic touch plus they look great on the cake.
You could bake the cake in an ordinary tin, but if you have a bundt tin, make it in that, so the icing can drip down the centre of the cake.
Here is Ottolenghi’s recipe.
30g unsalted butter, softened, for greasing the tin
240g plain flour plus more to flour the tin
160 mls extra-virgin olive oil
120g caster sugar
1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest (from about 1 1/2 oranges)
1 ½ tablespoons packed finely chopped rosemary leaves
2 large free-range eggs
130g sour cream
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
10 small rosemary sprigs, no more than 3 cms each in size
1 free range egg white, lightly whisked
2 teaspoons caster sugar
1 ½ tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
2 ½ teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
150g sifted icing sugar
At least six hours before you plan to ice the cake, prepare the crystallised rosemary. Brush rosemary on all sides with a little of the egg white and then dip it in the sugar, so the needles are lightly coated on all sides. Set aside on a wire rack to dry. Repeat with remaining rosemary. *Note: You want small, decorative clusters of needles. The simplest way to do this is to pull the smaller, bottom-most clumps off of large sprigs, or trim off the very tops of several sprigs.
Heat the oven to 160 degrees C. Generously grease a 23cm bundt tin with half the butter and refrigerate for 10 minutes. Butter again, generously, and then flour it, tapping away the excess.
Put olive oil, caster sugar, orange zest and chopped rosemary leaves in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whisk on medium speed until combined, then add eggs, one at a time. Whisk for another minute, until thick, then add sour cream and mix until combined on low speed. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and the whisk.
Sift flour, baking powder and salt together into a small bowl. Add the dry ingredients to the olive oil mixture and mix until combined. Increase speed to high and whisk for one minute.
Scrape batter into the bundt pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until cake is cooked, and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes before inverting onto a serving plate.
To make the icing, in a small bowl whisk together orange juice, lemon juice and icing sugar until smooth. When the cake has cooled, drizzle the icing on top, allowing it to drip down the sides of the cake, then top with the crystallized rosemary and serve.