So here it is! The first in my 12 Weeks Of Christmas series. I’ve started with a plain cake- something that’s not overly fancy, not overly sweet, and definitely not cute like a gingerbread man. But I think you’ll like it…even if it isn’t all pretty and frosty. It’s the kind of cake you’d like to sit down to after dinner with a cup of coffee. The kind of cake you’d like to have with your post-breakfast coffee. The kind of cake you’d want to have because it’s raining or cold, or because you’re walking past it.
I’ve probably read the recipe for rosemary loaf cake in Nigella Lawson’s How To Be A Domestic Goddess a hundred times. The idea of taking rosemary, an herb used in savoury cooking, and baking it into a cake seemed….well, a little out of place. Rosemary and potatoes, to me, seemed like the perfect match- rosemary didn’t need to be anywhere near a cake. Just sit tight with your starchy spud-pal!
But then I began to think about all the desserts I like which have a sweet + spicy/savoury pairing.
♥ Chilli & chocolate…
♥ Salt & caramel…
♥ Strawberry & basil…
So why not combine rosemary with a little sugar? I was just being stupid, wrinkling my nose at the thought of rosemary in a cake.
Nigella, too, in her recipe headnote, cautions us against turning up our nose at rosemary in a cake. She says, “there is something muskily aromatic about it against the sweet vanilla egginess of the cake.” Honestly, I cannot put it better. There is a rich, woody flavour the rosemary adds to the cake, and coupled with the crunchy crust and moist interior, it’s quite lovely.
The first time I made it, I halved her recipe and tried to fit it into my 8×5 inch loaf tin. The tin turned out to be too small to accommodate the batter, so I played around with the measurements to make it fit. I also added some streusel topping, because a little streusel crumb never hurt a cake J
With the streusel, I just added sugar, butter, flour and rolled oats little by little until I got the consistency I wanted- I don’t know whether there’s a perfect ratio. But if you can, use brown sugar because it makes the streusel more caramel-y and toothsome.
I didn’t add spice to the streusel mix, because I wanted the flavour of the rosemary to be predominant. In Nigella’s recipe, she sprinkles some rosemary sugar over the top, and it does add a pleasant crunch, but the streusel is richer and makes it more fun to bite into.
STREUSEL-TOPPED ROSEMARY LOAF CAKE (Adapted from How To Be A Domestic Goddess.)
For The Cake
- 125 g | ½ cup + 1 tablespoon butter, at room temperature
- 100 g | ½ cup castor sugar
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
- 150 g | 1 cup flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 2 tsp vanilla extract | seeds of ½ a vanilla bean, scraped
- 1 tsp rosemary needles, chopped (I used dried.)
- 6 tbsp milk, at room temperature
For The Streusel
- 5 tbsp brown sugar
- 5 tbsp flour
- 3 tbsp rolled oats
- 4 tbsp cold butter
- Preheat the oven to 170 C. Grease an 8×5 inch loaf tin and set aside.
- Combine all the streusel ingredients in a bowl, and, using your fingers or a fork, work everything together till you get a nice crumbly mixture. Set aside in your fridge while you work on the rest of the cake.
- In a bowl, sift together the flour and baking powder and set aside.
- In a larger bowl, cream the butter until soft.
- Add the sugar and continue beating until pale and fluffy.
- Crack in the egg and beat until well combined.
- Next, fold in half the flour. Once it’s combined, add 3 tablespoons of milk and the vanilla, and fold till evenly combined.
- Fold in the remaining flour, followed by the remaining 3 tablespoons of milk, and the rosemary needles.
- Fold until no streaks of flour remain and your batter comes together- it will be a thick batter, so don’t worry.
- Spoon the batter into the tin and smooth the top.
- Crumble the streusel mixture over the top of the cake. There will be some left over. Go ahead. Just eat it.
- Bake at 170c for 40-45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack before unmoulding.