This rosemary, olive oil and orange bundt cake debuted in the New York Times food section on Wednesday, March 8. I’ve already baked this cake twice. The first cake went to feed the homeless. The second one will be served as a birthday cake for a friend. The fact that Yotam Ottolenghi is the author of this recipe, has everything to do with the compulsion to bake this cake — now. I can’t wait to try my hands on the new recipe. I have found his cake recipes, in Plenty and Plenty More, to be among the most creative and distinctive uses of vegetables (cauliflower) and fruits (apricot).
Yes, I’m obsessed with finding recipes that push the envelop and stretch the limit — on healthful ingredients, unusual techniques and unique flavors. More than just the sound techniques of a good recipe, the story behind the recipe, by and large, has to deliver that intangible and important ingredient in connecting us with the food we eat. It is that other dimension that creates the indelible memory and the magic that lingers.
Ottolenghi wrote about his childhood memory in the limonaia, or lemon house (where lemon trees in their terra-cotta pots are kept out of the elements during the winter months), in his grandparents house in Italy. The smell of citrus hanged in the air in the limonaia. The memory of childhood and family lives on beyond the distant summers. So much so that a squeeze of lemon would invoke fond memory and makes him happy in the kitchen. This is a remarkable piece of writing by a chef. I won’t want to spoil it with all the details. Read it: “A Childhood Scented with Citrus” in the New York Times. The same can be said about the recipe. It can be found there.
This is a bundt cake decorated with crystalized rosemary and orange icing. Start with aerating sugar in olive oil, scented with orange zest and chopped rosemary. Next, two eggs are added to the olive oil mixture, followed by sour cream. I am curious about the use of sour cream, which does not usually show up in cake batters. There is a good amount (130 gm) of it, as much as the amount (140 gm) of olive oil, in weight. But I’m more than happy to add “probiotic” microbes which allow us to plant our inner gardens with a diverse bacterial flora. More than that, I believe sour cream is providing some liquid, at the same time, flavor and fat as well as sugars and proteins for the browning reaction. The dry ingredients are then combined with the wet ingredients. The batter goes into the bundt pan and bake for about 30 minutes in a 325°F oven. All are simple and straightforward steps in making a cake. Use the best ingredients you can find and follow the recipe; you really can’t go wrong with this cake.
This cake is all about the citrus scent and the earthy notes of rosemary that travel from the inside of your mouth to your nose. Stupendous and unforgettable. It brought back memory of an equally compelling dish I had in Venice, a lemon and rosemary risotto, flavored with Parmesan cheese….
Start imprinting food memories that go beyond the walls of your kitchen.