How to make: rosemary & lemon olive oil cake with crystallised primroses




April has been a mixed month so far, sometimes all four seasons in one hour, nevermind one day.  It is a beautiful fresh month however & this easy breezy bundt cake is a celebration in itself.  The recipe is adapted very slightly  from one of my favourite food writers, Sky McAlpine. Olive oil cakes are really so delightfully easy (one bowl, a measuring jug, a spoon & you are set) & yet have a certain flavour & crumb that feels very grown up.   They are the little black dress of the baking world.  If you can, spend a little extra on olive oil, it guarantees that it is indeed olive oil & has a wonderfully nutty & distinct flavour that is worth the investment.  The trio of olive oil, in season lemons & fresh sprigs of rosemary come together to provide layers of flavour that release happily in your mouth.  Finished off with a lemon drizzle icing for a final hit of sweetness, this is a cake that is made to be baked again.





For the cake:

  • 150g plain flower
  • 50g ground almonds
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 180g soft brown sugar
  • 20g golden caster sugar
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • 2 medium eggs
  • juice & zest of  1 unwaxed lemon
  • 80ml olive oil
  • 60ml brandy

For the lemon drizzle icing:

  • 110g icing sugar
  • 2 – 3 tbsp water
  • generous squeeze of lemon juice to taste

Preheat your oven to 180° C & generously butter & flour a bundt cake tin.


  1. Sift your flour & baking powder in a large bowl.  Add in your ground almonds, sugar & salt & give a quick stir with your hands or a spoon to mix together & break down  any lumps of  brown sugar.
  2. Chop your fresh sprigs of rosemary very finely & stir into your flour mixture making sure to distribute evenly.
  3. In a measuring jug, measure out your olive oil & brandy.  Add your eggs & lemon juice & zest & whisk together.
  4. Make a small well in your dry ingredients and, using a spatula, stir in your wet ingredients (a 1/4 at a time).  Fold together until fully combined.
  5. Pour into your cake tin & bake for about 30-35 minutes until golden & the cake comes slightly away from the edges.  A skewer will come out clean.
  6. Leave to cool for about 15-20 minutes before carefully removing from your cake tin.
  7. Leave to cool on a wire wrack completely before icing.
  8. To make the icing simply sift the icing sugar into a bowl, add 2 tablespoons of water at first and mix together with a small whisk or metal spoon until it comes to an icing consistency.  If you want a slightly thinner icing, add more water at this stage.  Finish by stirring in the lemon juice.
  9. Drizzle over the top of the cake using a metal spoon & leave to set.




If you like, finish with a decoration of some fresh & crystallized edible flowers, I used some primroses here, which are in abundance in Ireland at the moment.  Some crystallized lemon or rosemary would also be very pretty.



Crystallizing flowers is very simple, but you do need to make them at least 24 hours in advance.

Carefully dip or paint the flower in egg white and then roll in caster sugar.  Place carefully in on parchment paper & leave to dry.


This cake keeps very well for 3-4 days, just keep somewhere cool & cover with clingfilm or pop in a cake box.



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