I counting down the hours to Christmas break. I have only been back at work since the end of October and I can't wait for two weeks off. I have been promised a lie in at some point and I've no doubt in my mind that sleeping in past 8:30 would be the best Christmas gift I could hope for. My darling daughter may be a good sleeper but she is also a pretty early riser and I am not a morning person.
I go mad for vegetables or herbs in cakes. It's like, it shouldn't work but it does...and it tastes better than any cake ever made before. This is why carrot cake reigns supreme. Rosemary is just my absolute hands down favourite herb in the history of herbs forever amen. I sprinkle it on as much as I can get away with and now I want to bake with it for eternity. I'm getting carried away? Ok. I took this cake into work, left it in the communal kitchen and it was gone within ten minutes. I think, for cake alone, they were pretty glad to have me back off maternity leave ;)
I was sent a copy of April Carter's new book 'Decorated' to review and I think it's probably my favourite cookbook of 2014. I have had a renewed enthusiasm for cakes in recent months and this book is just everything I love about baking big-ass layer cakes. The photography and styling is beautiful and the recipes are classics with a great twist. I've had a few posts recently with chocolate in so I decided to try something different, otherwise I'd have been all over the salted caramel chocolate cake. April has included some great tips on decoration, including how to do scalloped piping and tips on photographing your cakes. My cake does not look quite as elegant as April's so I did my favourite 'naked' icing. I may have over done it with the cinnamon as well as my icing was definitely not as white as in the book, though very delicious nonetheless.
Apple, Parsnip & Rosemary Syrup Cake
(Recipe from Decorated by April Carter)
for the cake:
320g unsalted butter, melted and cooled
320g light brown sugar
4 medium eggs
320g plain flour
2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch of salt
100g peeled and grated parsnip (approx 1 medium psrsnip)
200g peeled and grated eating apple (approx 2 medium apples)
1 tablespoonnfinely chopped fresh rosemary
for the rosemary syrup:
125g caster sugar
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
for the cinnamon buttercream:
125g unsalted butter, softened
200g icing sugar, sifted
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
50ml double cream
crystallised rosemary, to decorate:
rosemary syrup (above)
a few sprigs of rosemary
50g caster sugar
Preheat your oven to 170 C/335 F/Gas Mark 3. Grease and line two 18cm cake tins and set aside.
Using a stand mixer or electric hand whisk, beat the butter, sugar and eggs for 2-3 minutes until pale and well combined.
Sift in the flour, bicarbonate of soda, salt and cinnamon and beat into the butter mixture until all the flour is mixed in.
Fold in the grated apple and parsnip and the chopped rosemary.
Divide between the two tins and bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 40 minutes. Test with a cocktail stick before removing from the oven. Leave the cool completely before turning out onto a wire rack.
For the syrup, add the sugar and rosemary to 250ml cold water and bring to a gentle simmer. Stir until the sugar has dissolved, turn off the heat and leave to cool before removing the rosemary sprigs.
To make the crystallised rosemary, dip some fresh rosemary in the syrup and lay on a sheet of grease proof paper. Sprinkle over the caster sugar and leave to dry for a few hours.
For the buttercream, beat the butter for 3-4 minutes until pale, sift in the icing sugar and cinnamon and add the cream. Beat for another 2-3 minutes until smooth and fluffy.
To assemble, cut each cake in half and place the bottom layer on your plater/cake stand. Brush the cut side with rosemary syrup and spread a quarter of the buttercream on top.
Repeat with 2nd, 3rd and 4th layers and finish with a layer of buttercream on top. If you want to recreate the naked look leave some to thinly spread around the sides as well. Decorate with the crystallised rosemary and serve.