Posted on October 4, 2013
A few years ago I lived in a large, beautiful group house with several wonderful housemates. We had an incredible kitchen in which we spent all our time, laughing and cooking and sharing food. There were a number of cookbooks left in the kitchen by the landlords, journalists who traveled most of the time, and one of the roommates became obsessed with a recipe she found for rosemary remembrance cake. She spent months thinking and talking about that recipe, and though she was an excellent cook, put off making it until just before she moved away to the other coast.
When she finally decided to make the cake, for her going away dinner if I remember correctly, we realized we didn’t have any rosemary. Our house was next to a co-op with an amazing garden. They had a the largest rosemary bush I have ever seen and the neighbors had told us to help ourselves if we ever needed any. My roommate relieved the giant bush of one long branch of rosemary and this was baked right down the center of the cake. It was so beautiful we even did a little photo shoot with it on our front porch.
It’s been about five years since she made that cake, and though I can’t recall the name of the cookbook in our old house, I’d done a little research online to try to find something similar. The original cake was baked in a loaf pan, but I wanted to bake a round cake, and ended up choosing this recipe from Cayuga St. Kitchen.
In general, I’m more of a savory person who enjoys sweets in small quantities, so this warm, aromatic cake is right up my alley, and was the perfect accompaniment to morning coffees and afternoon tea.
A few tips:
While I did follow the recipe in adding two tablespoons of fresh minced rosemary to the cake, I saw a number of other recipes with branches of rosemary baked into the top, so I felt safe amending this one. I selected three 5-in branches of new growth from my rosemary plant, choosing the new growth so that the branches would be flexible enough for me to shape them a bit and arrange the rosemary in a circle around the cake. Fresh rosemary should have lots of natural oils that will be released while baking, so the leaves will dry out, rather than burn, as it bakes.
I felt that the cake might have benefited from a little more lemon zest. Next time I make it, I might try zesting another half or whole lemon.
The powdered sugar and chopped nuts topping suggested in the recipe were a nice addition to the cake I remember. Raspberries or fresh sliced pears would also pair nicely when serving.