The year 2016 was a very difficult one. After such an exhausting period, the Christmas season felt like a joke and I was not in the mood for laughing. So instead of all the usual commotion, seasonal baking, hanging out with friends and family and packing festive pounds, this year I was curled on the sofa with my baby daughter, husband, mother and a book nearby. And while I cannot say that it felt good, it felt right.
During one of those quiet evenings spent with my mother at her place, we turned on the television. Nigella was on, cooking up a Christmas storm. Although my Grinch mode was on, I was mesmerized by the beauty of the TV set, the styling, the choice of recipes and Nigella herself – her velvet voice and her usual quirky yet no-nonsense approach to food and cooking. For the first time that festive season I felt like I was missing out on something.
Part of the show was dedicated to three similar, but differently flavored bundt cakes, one of which was a thyme and lemon combo. From the moment I saw it, I knew I had to make it: Baking love at first sight. I had the star ingredients at hand, lemons were in season and at their peak.
So, as soon as I got home the next day, I opened Simply Nigella and turned on the oven. Fresh thyme was nowhere to be found so I sent my husband to pick some fresh rosemary instead. It did the job perfectly. If you ask me, this cake is the best if eaten fresh, preferably on the same day it is made.
And despite my Christimassy intro – this bundt cake is not too festive. You can indulge in it any season of the year, any day of the week. I know I will.
ROSEMARY AND LEMON BUNDT CAKE
Recipe adapted from Nigella Lawson’s Simply Nigella
- 450 g plain flour
- 3/4 tsp baking powder
- 3/4 tsp baking soda
- 200 g soft unsalted butter
- 2 unwaxed lemons
small bunch fresh rosemary
- 250 g cups sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 250 ml buttermilk / milk with 1 tablespoon lemon juice / runny yoghurt
- 120 g icing sugar
melted butter and all-purpose flour, for greasing
Combine the flour, baking powder, and baking soda in a bowl, and fork to mix.
Put the butter in the bowl of a freestanding mixer or a regular mixing bowl, grate in the zest of both lemons, and beat until creamy.
Strip 4 tablespoons of rosemary and add along with the sugar, and beat again until you have a light fluffy mixture.
Now, one by one, beat in the eggs and, after the last one, slow down your mixing and add a third of the flour mixture, followed by a third of the buttermilk, and so on until both the flour mixture and buttermilk are used up.
Finally, beat in the juice of 1 of the lemons and transfer this mixture to the prepared bundt pan. Place on the baking sheet in the oven and bake for 1¼ hours, though start checking after 1 hour. Don’t be alarmed if it looks like there’s too much batter for the bundt pan: the cake will rise but then sink back down comfortably.
When a cake tester comes out clean, remove the cake to a wire rack and leave in its pan for 15 minutes before carefully unmolding.
When the cake is cool, slip the piece of parchment paper under the wire rack, then sift the confectioners’ sugar into a bowl and beat in the juice of the remaining lemon until you have a glaze that is thin enough to run down the cake – about 2-3 tablespoons – but thick enough to act as a tangy glue for the thyme leaves you are about to sprinkle on top. Or you can pour this directly over the cake on its serving plate. Duly pour the sherbetty glaze over the cake, and immediately scatter with thyme leaves and the odd sprig or two.
Store in an airtight container in a cool place for up to 5 days.