Lately, I cannot get enough fresh herbs. Sprigs of parsley in anything; basil everywhere; cilantro, oregano, thyme, sage...all of it fresh and much of it locally grown. And rosemary! Oh, rosemary: such a wonderful herb for the winter. Woodsy, peppery, and evergreen, its needles hinting of its provenance in a magically fragrant forest somewhere.
This weekend, we used this divine herb to make a beautiful savory and sweet rosemary loaf cake. The aromatic rosemary contrasts so gorgeously and unexpectedly with the sweet and moist vanilla-infused texture of the loaf.
A not-too-sweet jam, such as fig or perhaps a tart orange marmalade, pairs well with this bread. I have been alternating between nibbling on pieces with jam and with fresh raspberries and blueberries piled on top and drizzled with a hint of Italian aceto balsamico. I enjoyed the latter while curled up on the couch with a homemade amaretto latte (Italian espresso+fresh cream+organic amaretto syrup), enjoying the warmth of the fireplace as the snow fell outside.
We made several substitutions to Nigella's recipe (noted within the recipe below) to suit our nutritional preferences.
(And while we're on the topic, a quick note about ingredients: my preference is to use organic ones whenever possible, so I tend to note the use of such in my recipes. However, I do not mean for this to be interpreted as an authoritative command. It is simply the fact of what I have used in a given recipe.)
Rosemary Loaf Cake (serves 8-10)
(Adapted from Nigella Lawson's How to be a Domestic Goddess)
1 cup plus 2tbsp soft unsalted organic butter
3/4 cup sugar (I used Whole Foods' brand of organic zero-calorie sweetener instead of regular sugar)
3 large organic eggs
1 2/3 cups self-rising cake flour (I used Pamela's Baking & Pancake Mix, which is made of brown rice flour and natural almond meal, and is wheat and gluten-free. I don't have a wheat or gluten allergy, but try not to consume it in large quantities.)
1 tsp organic vanilla extract
4 tbsp milk (I used organic 2%, but you can substitute soy or almond milk if you wish)
2 tsp chopped rosemary needles
1-2 tbsp sugar for sprinkling on top (again, I used zero-calorie sweetener)
9x5 inch loaf pan, sprayed with non-stick cooking spray
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream soft butter and sugar or sugar substitute. Beat in eggs one at a time, folding in a spoonful of flour after each addition. Add the vanilla. Fold in the rest of the flour, then the rosemary. Thin the batter with the milk. You are going for a soft, drapey texture. Pour into the prepared pan, sprinkle the top with sugar and bake for about an hour or until it there appears a golden crust on top.