Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Rosemary + Lemon + Olive Oil Cake

I feel so fortunate to live in Southern California because our growing season is year-round. Fresh produce is plentiful and accessible through farmer’s markets or your own backyard. Rosemary is hardly considered an herb here because it grows rampant. People line their yards with rosemary bushes the size of large hedges. Awesome?! For sure! Not only does rosemary smell amazing but also you always have it on hand (or your neighbor does). Oh, and the citrus trees, they are blowing up right now! A couple of days ago our neighbor dropped off a small grocery bag filled with fresh oranges from his tree. These oranges are not like the oranges you buy in the store. You know, the oranges that look great but have no flavor or the oranges that are almost dry inside rather than juicy and delectable. Uck! These oranges may not look perfect on the outside, slight imperfections, but they certainly taste perfect on the inside. So sweet, juicy and divine!

Lemons? Yes, the lemons look like small grapefruit and they almost taste sweet as opposed to bitter and sour. Sometimes I feel like we live in the Garden of Eden because it almost doesn’t seem real. Basically if you live in Southern California there is no excuse for skipping out on fruits and veggies.

So what does one do with fresh lemons and rosemary? Bake a Lemon Rosemary Olive Oil Cake of course! The consistency is the cross between a pound cake and bread and is simply perfect with a cup of tea or coffee. It is outstanding when enjoyed fresh out of the oven or lovely served with the lemon glaze (see below). The flavors blend so beautifully and the rosemary adds a nice bite with its rich earthiness. Oh and the sweet savory aroma that fills the air while its baking is heavenly. There is really no reason not to enjoy this beauty.

Most people think of rosemary as a culinary herb that is used to season or flavor soups, sauces and meats; however, it has been used for centuries for its natural healing benefits as well. Rosemary is said to have anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. It is also a mood elevator and can provide pain relief and migraine help. Often used in anti-aging skincare for its ability to reduce puffiness, stimulate cell regeneration and increase firmness.

* Please note that I used ½ cup almond flour and 1 cup of all-purpose flour. You can skip the almond flour if you don’t have it and use 1 ½ cup of all-purpose flour. I also tried this cake with whole-wheat flour; however, it was much denser and with a different texture – still delicious. If you’d like the nutrients from whole-grain flour (like I do), look for white whole-wheat flour. This will give you the light airiness of all-purpose flour with the nutrients of whole-grain.

** It is also delicious when served with a lemon-honey glaze made from heating the juice and zest from one lemon with 1/4 cup of honey over the stovetop. Drizzle the warm glaze over each individual slice of cake before serving.

4 large eggs
1/2 cup of honey
3/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
Zest and juice from one large lemon
1/2 cup of almond flour
1 cup of all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons of baking powder
1/4 teaspoon of salt
2 tablespoons of fresh chopped rosemary (plus an additional 1-2 sprigs for garnish)

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Grease an 8” spring form pan (or 10” loaf pan) with olive oil and set aside.

Sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs for about 30 seconds using an electric mixer or whisk. Add the honey, lemon zest and lemon juice and continue to mix until somewhat foamy. With the mixer running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil.

Gradually begin to fold in the dry ingredients to the wet mixture. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, spreading the mixture evenly.

Bake for approximately 30 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and a skewer or toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the cake on a rack for ten minutes. Next, either release the latch on the spring form pan or carefully tip the cake out of the pan. You may need to run a knife around the outside edges before tipping.

Add the fresh rosemary sprigs to the top of the cake before serving.

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