Thursday, September 10, 2015

Rosemary Raisin Tea Cake

So, I’m finally getting around to telling you about this cake. I won’t go into the details of why I’m rarely around this site anymore. It’s not because the food isn’t good, that’s for sure. Really, it’s because there just aren’t enough hours in a day, days in a week, etc., etc.

This is a very simple, “everyday” sort of cake with a gentle sweetness, a burst of the somewhat exotic from the fresh rosemary, and raisins. As humble as they may be, I love raisins.

I have lots of fresh rosemary growing in a pot on my patio, and was encouraged by this bread recipe from the archives to expect good things from the combination of rosemary and raisins. This cake didn’t let me down. I added lemon zest to perk things up a bit and the simple lemon glaze from this cake, neither of which added a significant amount of extra work to this easy dessert.

While I really liked the faint piney-ness of the rosemary in this sweet medium, other fresh herbs would be good as well, as would other dried fruits. I recently found a recipe for apricot-sage scones, leading me to believe that combination might be good in this cake. Also, fresh basil is nice with citrus, if you choose to use other zests or a combination (like in these cookies).

Since this is all so simple and versatile, the possibilities can truly make this kind of cake an everyday thing in the kitchen, even if your days and nights are busy. Just as long as you don’t expect to have your cake and eat it too. Given the choice, I’d say eat it!

Rosemary Raisin Tea Cake with Lemon
Adapted from the Fanny Farmer Baking Book

½ cup raisins
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
4 tablespoons butter
2 eggs
¾ cup sugar
2 cups flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
½ cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice

1. In a small saucepan, combine the raisins, milk and rosemary. Bring to a simmer and cook 2 minutes. Set aside until cooled.

2. Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease and flour a 9-inch round cake pan. Trace the bottom of the pan on parchment paper and cut out the circle. Place the parchment circle on the bottom of the cake pan. Grease and flour the paper.

3. Melt the butter. Set aside to cool.

4. In a medium-size bowl, beat the eggs until light and frothy (you can do this with an electric mixer or by hand with a whisk). Beat in the melted butter. Beat in the sugar until the mixture is very smooth and pale in color.

5. In another bowl, combine the flour, salt and baking powder. Whisk or sift together. Stir in the lemon zest.

6. Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture and beat until very smooth. The batter will be very stiff. Add the cooled milk mixture. Stir until smooth.

7. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan. Bake at 350 F for about 40 minutes or until a pick inserted near the center of the cake comes out with a few moist crumbs attached.

8. Remove from the oven and cool 10 minutes on a wire rack. Remove the cake from the pan. (Turn it over again to cool right side up if desired. I liked the look of the top of the cake more than the bottom.)

9. When the cake is still slightly warm, sift the powdered sugar into a small bowl. Add the lemon juice and stir until the mixture is very smooth. The icing should be loose enough to glaze the cake. Spoon the glaze over the cake and smooth over the top. Allow the cake to stand until the icing is set.

Makes about 16 servings. Cover leftovers and keep at room temperature for a few days.

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