One of my oldest and dearest friends, Leanne, always gives the best gifts; you know ones that always get it right? One of the (many) gifts that she’s given me over the years is this wonderful cookbook called, “Crazy Water Pickled Lemons” by Diana Henry.
Diana takes us on a magical journey of moving to London in her twenties and discovering the exotic ingredients that her Turkish-run grocery shop down the road offered, along with the other delights of the thriving Arab community along the Edgeware Road. All of the dishes are from her travels over the years to the Middle East, the Mediterranean and North Africa. Think pomegranates, saffron, figs, sticky dates and flower water… my taste buds are doing cartwheels thinking about it!
One of the recipes from the book that gets a serious workout in our house is the lemon and rosemary cake. It’s my favourite, and my husband makes it on special occasions; the last time was for my birthday the previous month!
The flavours complement each other so well and it’s made with olive oil, so, as far as cakes go, it’s relatively guilt free. If you fancy cooking the most delicious and interesting cake this weekend – one that’s also a great conversational point around the dinner table, this is the one for you!
I’d love to hear how you go… Have a great weekend everyone!
LEMON & ROSEMARY CAKE
55g (2 oz) stale white bread
100g (3 1/2 oz) blanched almonds
10ml (2 tsp) rosemary leaves
200g (7 oz) caster sugar
10ml (2 tsp)baking powder
grated zest of 1 lemon
200ml (7fl oz) olive oil
4 eggs, beaten
FOR THE SYRUP
Juice of 2 lemons
125ml (4fl oz) water
60 (21/4 oz) caster sugar
2 sprigs rosemary
FOR THE GARNISH
1. Put the bread, almonds and rosemary leaves in a food processor and grind as finely as possible. Combine this mixture in a bowl with the sugar and baking powder. Add the lemon zest, olive oil and eggs and stir well until everything is amalgamated.
2. Pour the batter into a greased 22cm (8 1/2in) spring-form cake tin. Put it into a cold oven and set the heat to 180° C (350° F) Gas mark 4. Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until the cake is browned and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Leave in the tin for 5-10 minutes to cool slightly, then turn it out on to a plate.
3. Make the syrup by gently heating all the ingredients together. Stir a little until the sugar has dissolved, then turn the heat up and boil for 5 minutes. Leave the rosemary in the syrup to infuse.
4. Pierce holes in the cake and strain the syrup all over it while it’s still warm. Leave the cake to cool. Dust with icing sugar and serve with berries or citrus fruits in syrup and a dollop of yoghurt.