I recently read an article about beauty rituals from around the world. Some of the more interesting ones included using lemon juice to remove nail polish residue (apparently common knowledge to the French), and boiling daisies in water to create a tonic that intensifies the highlights in your hair (a Turkish secret). However, the most intriguing beauty ritual on that list by far – at least to me – was the use of rosemary water to improve hair shine and enhance hair growth. Imagine that! I guess that explains why I’ve seen shampoos and conditioners glorifying rosemary as a key ingredient.
Well, I’ve got a rosemary secret for you: the woody herb makes a pretty delicious addition to sweet cakes. The fragrant, evergreen leaves of this wonderful plant proved its worth by giving depth and flavour to the mandarin orange pound cake we made over the weekend. Of course, much of the flavour came from the oranges, but the brazen use of rosemary just added a little something extra.
As soon as we pulled this cake out of the oven, we were greeted with the best smell in the entire world. There’s nothing quite like the scent of a warm, sweet, amazingly aromatic, fresh-out-of-the-oven cake chock full of herby, citrusy goodness. We slathered the top with a simple glaze made of one part mandarin orange juice, four parts icing sugar. A single sprig of rosemary completed the look and made for the ultimate adornment.
Then came the taste test. We think it passed with flying colours. Baked to golden perfection with a slightly crumbly exterior and a moist-yet-dense interior (just like a pound cake should be), this thing was unbelievably buttery and gorgeously flavoured. We noted that the cake itself didn’t turn out too overly sweet, which gave the orange glaze the perfect time to shine.
Rosemary & Mandarin Orange Pound Cake
adapted from Tide & Thyme’s meyer lemon pound cake.
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
A pinch of sea salt
1/4 cup organic soy milk
Juice of 1 mandarin orange
Zest of 1 mandarin orange
1 large sprig rosemary
1 cup caster sugar
250 grams butter, softened
5 eggs, beaten
for the glaze:
1/4 cup mandarin orange juice
1 cup confectioner’s sugar, sifted
- Preheat oven to 160°C and line a 9×5″ loaf pan with non-stick baking paper.
- In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Mix well, set aside.
- In a small cup, stir the soy milk and orange juice together. Set aside.
- Remove rosemary leaves from sprig and chop finely.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the orange zest, chopped rosemary leaves and sugar. Rub the mixture together with your fingers until the sugar is moist and fragrant.
- Add the butter to the sugar mixture and beat until light and fluffy, then gradually beat the eggs into the creamed mixture.
- Alternating between the dry ingredients and the milk mixture, gently stir them into the mixing bowl in 3 or 4 increments, starting and ending with the dry ingredients.
- Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and use a spoon to smooth the top.
- Bake for approximately 55-60 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.
- Remove from oven and let cake stand in pan for about 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
- To make the glaze, combine the juice and sugar in a cup, stirring thoroughly until the sugar dissolves. Add more sugar or juice to create your desired consistency, then carefully drizzle the mixture over the cooled cake.
- Best eaten the day it is made, but you may also keep the cake stored in an air tight container for a couple of days.