Ready for a Very Special Cake

This Sunday has been very slow in-between our garden and little apartment. This slowness, or slothfulness ((I love that word, don’t you?) it always brings a sloth attempting to move very… slowly… from one tree to the other to mind), can probably be traced back to an incredibly busy week at work and, let’s not kid ourselves, a weekend that was filled with friends, wine, cocktails, and a lot of simple and incredibly delicious food. On Friday night, we, as always, met with our very good friends Torben & Kathrin, who cooked up a storm of divine pub food: home-made club sandwiches with all the trimmings – bacon, homemade mayonnaise, roasted chicken, perfectly ripe tomatoes, crisp lettuce –, accompanied by Negronis and Gin Collins on their roof-top terrace, overlooking the city and it’s hills; then, we moved back into their apartment where Torben made Cosmopolitans and they served the best & crispiest homemade fries, a chicken that was to-die for, spicy & sweet, and some cooling coleslaw. For dessert, Torben made a sweet & creamy cocktail with vanilla-icecream, bubbles, vodka, and fresh orange juice, which was too good to be true. It was a night filled with great conversation, excellent food, and good friends – what else can you ask for? On Saturday, I met my best friend Hannah and we went to „Centrale,“ a charming Italian restaurant, where we had all the deep-talk, wine, and Antipasti. It was superb and much-needed.

And so was Sunday and it was slow, which is very rare around here and somehow special. Just letting a day happen, evolve without a real plan in mind, is a uniquely sweet way of being around here, where the days are usually filled with work, teaching, writing, shopping, cleaning, other sorts of life-upceaping etc. (you know what I am talking about). So, a day of no plans is a superior thing. It’s distinctness comes with the basic connotation that there is nothing – no thing – that we should do that day. It’s a shouldless day.

So, on this extraordinary day, I decided to bake something special because I could (different from should!), while Kim was reading on the couch, every now and then sharing some insights from her book with me. Apples are not the most common summer fruit, but when I opened the fridge earlier, I found these Pink Ladies sitting in a bowl, looking all neglected and sad because we have been gorging on strawberry, peaches, and cherries for the last weeks. It is summer after all. But, I am an emotional sponge and apparently I even accept calls form fruit now, and so I freed them from the cold box, went into our garden and saw our gigantic rosemary bush, got the scissors, cut off some springs, and started baking, while sipping on my curcuma tea, a jazz playlist filling-in as background noise, kid’s joyful screams finishing-off that Sunday noise .

And what I baked is very special. It’s a spongy, dense, and tart apple cake with rosemary, topped with a rosemary-lemon drizzle. The basic recipe for this cake is adapted from Athena Calderone’s „Cardamon-Cognac Apple Cake,“ which is in her fabulous cookbook Cook Beautiful, which you should get right away. I love Athena Calderone’s food and her cake is spectacular in fall, but I was craving something more appropriate for this time a year. So, here comes my delicious adaptation. The rosemary in the cake mix brings in a slight peppery & balsamic-taste, which works beautiful with the sweetness of the Pink Lady apples. But, don’t think it stops there, and if you make this cake, please, please also make the rosemary-lemon drizzle. The rosemary-lemon drizzle brings in hints of lemon, a crunchy sugary texture, and a slightly minty aroma from the rosemary. It is superb. This cake makes a great afternoon tea, dessert, or present. We love it and I hope you will love it too.

Apple Rosemary Cake with Lemon-Rosemary Drizzle

125 g all-purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

a pinch of salt

2 large eggs

125g granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary

75 ml buttermilk

3 small Pink Lady apples

115 g melted butter

1 teaspoon brown sugar

For the Lemon-Rosemary Drizzle

2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary

1 teaspoon finely sliced lemon zest

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

4-5 tablespoons water

Preheat your oven to 175 degree celsius, line a small pie dish (ca. 20 cm ) with parchment paper, and butter the paper.

In a bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, and salt. In a second bowl, combine the eggs, sugar, vanilla, chopped rosemary, and buttermilk using a whisk until creamy. Fold in your wet mix into the dry one. Chop 2 small apples with the peel into small cubes and finely slice the third apple. Add your apple cubes to the cake batter, incorporating everything. Now, slowly fold in the melted butted into your cake mix until you have a smooth and creamy batter. Pour the batter into your lined pie dish, arrange the thin apple slices as you wish, and sprinkle everything with the brown sugar. Bake the cake for 55-60 minutes until firm, but still a bit spongy. Take out the oven to cool.

In the meantime, prepare your lemon-rosemary drizzle: in a non-stick pan or pot, combine 2 teaspoons of chopped fresh rosemary, the lemon zest, 2 tablespoons of sugar and 4-5 tablespoons of water and bring the mixture to a slight simmer. This should simmer for about 4-5 minutes until it becomes slightly thick and sirupy. Pour into a little bowl. Drizzle the cake once it is cooled and enjoy this very special treat.

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