Rosemary Pound Cake Recipe photo

My Big, Beautiful, Rosemary Pound Cake!

It’s finally happened. I’ve let myself get talked into sharing this amazing recipe I only had in my head.

I had the rudiments of it on paper, but it was inadequate. You know. Lots of things I did differently than the person who shared her own version of it. Lots of changes I made, if I remembered. Lots of special things I made sure of, that no one could have known by reading the recipe.

Rosemary and me…

Cozy up with something warm to drink and let me tell you all about it!

Is rosemary the world’s most favored herb? I don’t know; maybe not. However, it is one of my faves, and in my cooking adventures it shines like a star. I love it so much, I grow my own so never to be without.

If you were to visit my herb gardens, you’d notice two robust rosmarinus bushes (alba and sativa) both in easy reach. I like to think they are hefty branches to guard the doors to my kitchen, but really they mostly supervise the frolics of the latest kittens.

They say the size of a rosemary bush carries great significance. Supposedly it indicates the strength of the woman in her home.

I’m not sure about that, either.

I have landscaped around my house with the useful, herbal plants, for over 20 years. My gardens have varied from move to move. There was the glorious stand of dill in a raised bed. For my birthday, once, a son helped me set in a semi-circular hedge of 70 lavender plants. And when we spent a short time in Mississippi, I created an entire enclosed convent garden featuring a beautiful nighttime white-garden section. (That one did let a few non-herbals in for the sake of the flutter-byes.)

But the four-inch diameter twisted trunk of the rosemary right by my back door remains my favorite expression of my love for herbs: Always at hand. Shelter to cats. Exuberant. Generous. What more could an herb lover desire in a true friend?

Rosemary in the kitchen…

We eat lots of Italian food; that is an understatement, really. However, even when we cook something as simple as a pot roast, or baked chicken, a lot of rosemary goes in. It’s the natural additive, here, to the point that when my son’s friends thought the lavender cookies I had sent him smelled like pizza, he just chuckled, knowingly.

How few guess the redolent education that is inherent to owning rosemary!

Now. It’s not as though a cookie with rosemary could not be astonishing in its goodness, but today, we are going to make a cake, a simple pound cake, and we’re going to make it astonishing. So read on . . .

Rosemary in a cake?

I’ve mumbled and fumbled my way through many a delicious pound-cake recipe, including this one, and the variations I offer here I have acquired on the journey. I lost the original recipe, even, and have had to concoct this current iteration from memory and by refashioning a few I had lying around.

Funny, it turns out to be the best. I think you’ll like the results.

In my opinion, there is nothing in the kitchen that compares to creating this cake. The satisfaction is complete.

Noticing recipes for cakes with a sugar crust built in to the pan coating, I dared myself to try it. Using butter instead of shortening or oil would surely add perfection to the immaculate flavor of a fresh pound cake. Doting on its plainness, I realized it would play well with a hint of rosemary and the playwright in me took flight.

This cake is not hard, at all and it will leave you speechless.

My first attempt was not impressive. The recipe I used to build this project had faults. I do not appreciate that when it happens.

  • First, there was nothing in the recipe about the absolute importance of having all ingredients at room temperature. I’m telling you now; it’s absolutely important if you want the ingredients to mix well, and if you want a high cake with delicate crumb.
  • Next, the oven time was simply wrong. I kept checking and checking until I thought surely it was burned up, but no. I’ve corrected the time, now, realizing any cake this full of goodness would need at least 75 minutes to reach perfection. Also, I devised a method for you to know if your cake is done (toothpicks and such just do not work) and I’ll explain that soon.
  • Finally, the directions were not explicit enough and I actually made it wrong on the first try. It did make a cake, but I had a time keeping it all on the counter, at one point. (Sort of a Julia Child moment, that.) I’ve fixed it so you cannot make the mistake I made and you can thank me later.

So the first one fell just a smidgen—it came out of the oven too soon, I am sure, and there was that episode all over the counter…. It was scrumptious and everyone loved it—especially the slightly-fallen-cake-lovers—but I was not proud.

I might be a bit too proud, now.

However, this cake is a hit everywhere it goes, its lovers stealing extra pieces to take home for seconds the next day, then later confessing and offering huge compliments to get back into my good graces. So I’ll make one again, soon?

I just laugh—it’s a life!

And now is the time to make this darling, since rosemary is blooming right now and that’s the best time to harvest, so here goes!

(Oh, and you’ll need a stand mixer and a Bundt pan or other tube pan.)

That Scrumptious Pound Cake.

For the Crust. (Have ALL at room temperature):

1/2 stick butter (1/4 cup) (Should be almost soft enough to shed oils.)
1 cup sugar (approximately)
the leaves from two 5” sprigs of fresh rosemary, rinsed well, and DRIED


For the cake. Have ALL at room temperature. I’m not kidding:

A mixture of 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar, poured into 1-cup liquid measure with milk added to fill the cup. This mixture will be divided, later.
1 ½ cup butter, not margarine (3 sticks)
5 large eggs
3 cups sugar
¼ teaspoon soda
3 ¼ cups unbleached flour
1 teaspoon vanilla


For the glaze (optional). Have ALL at room temperature:

1 small can frozen orange juice concentrate
½ cup powered sugar


First: Prepare pan.
Slather butter thickly over all interior pan surfaces. The goal is to create a surface to which the rosemary leaves and sugar can stick. Do not ignore the hollow core part of the pan.
Sprinkle the rosemary leaves randomly over the butter. They will stick pretty well if the butter is very slicky-soft.
Over that pour about 2 Tablespoons at a time of sugar into the pan and twirl it around gently, to spread sugar all over, trying to keep leaves in place. If one or two rosemary leaves dislodge, it is okay.
Continue adding small amounts of sugar and spreading until absolutely no more sugar will stick. May take even more than a cup; that is fine. Set aside in a cool place such as an unheated room, or near a window, but not the fridge.


Second: Prepare the batter. (Pre-heat oven, now, to 350 degrees.)
Milk and vinegar should be well-combined, and set aside.

In a large mixer bowl, beat butter until pale and fluffy. Add sugar, gradually, until all is incorporated, beating until fluffy after each addition.

Add eggs to butter, one at a time, beating until fluffy after each addition, scraping sides of bowl occasionally.

Stir and divide milk/vinegar mixture, putting half into a 2-cup bowl. (The 2-cup bowl is mandatory.)

In a small dish, combine baking soda with one tablespoon of water, stirring well, then add to the ½ cup milk in bowl. Stir well. This will gradually foam up to about one-cup size or more, so watch it, being ready to place a plate under the bowl, if needed.
Add vanilla and mix well.

Beginning with the flour (!) add flour to egg/sugar mixture, ½ cup at a time, alternating with the soda/milk mixture, 1/3 cup at a time, mixing well after each addition until soda/milk is gone, continuing with the rest of the milk/vinegar mixture until all is mixed in (beginning and ending with flour!) Beat very well, until completely incorporated, after each addition.

Ease batter into prepared Bundt pan or tube pan, using a large spoon to place batter directly into bottom of pan, and not disturb sugar/rosemary coating. Place pan in middle of oven in all directions. Bake at 350 degrees for 75 minutes (one hour and 15 minutes.)

The test for doneness is to notice that the top of the batter will crack part-way through the baking. When the raw dough that is revealed in these cracks, begins to brown, the cake is done, especially if the cake is pulling from the sides of the pan. See photo:

Rosemary cake, showing baking step: checking for doneness.

This cake is beginning to brown inside the cracked places and to separate from the pan, indicating doneness.

Cool cake for ten minutes, in pan. Turn onto plate to finish cooling.


Mix orange juice concentrate with powdered sugar to desired consistency and serve as topping for cake, if desired.

Rosemary cake with glaze ready to eat!

You can thank me now! 🙂

Chocolate

Brush Your Teeth With Chocolate!

Okay, I know this is not dentist-approved, but let’s think about it a while. Has anyone out there ever tested it?

Thought not.

Well, I have. If I’ve just eaten, or if my mouth is less than satisfactory to me in any way, I love using chocolate for an emergency remedy. My teeth will feel cleaner, my breath will be far better than garlic, and I won’t get such a slump after eating.

Also, it is more pure, FAR less doctored with chemicals than most chewing gum.

Now, I don’t mean all the cruddy little desserts that claim to have a bit of chocolate in them. Most confections are pure sugar, another thing altogether from pure chocolate! I’ve been brought up in the United States, where it is possible actually to grow weary of sugar.

Chocolate is not sweet. You can find chocolate that has very few grams of sugar in it, like those pictured above. Mostly it is out of kid reach in the stores — it is adult chocolate, after all. To apply it, just break off or open one square, usually about 10 grams.  Chew it. Enjoy it to its fullest.

Most serious chocolate has lecithin and cocoa butter, which make the teeth slick. Germs do not cling for quite a while. Also, chocolate, itself, contains the following wonderful benefits: caffeine (which helps you be lively), theobromine (which lowers blood pressure, lessens edema, lowers rate of birth defects, and is patented for research in cancer prevention), and quite a few antioxidants. The germs don’t stand a chance.

The trick is in stopping at just one piece.

It’s worth a try, I say.

But use regular toothpaste, etc., just before bed, if at all possible.

Spring Beauties!

Second and Third bouquets of the year

Hellebores and Daffodils

This is not the first bouquet of the year! No! Not at all!

In fact the first bouquet of the year will not appear until the 21st.

Sorry. It’s an unusual thing going on.

But stay tuned and I’ll explain on the 21st. Thanks!

 

What Do We Get? Rosemary!

When we are at home,we can do all sorts of things we always wished we could.

I often use my home time to tend, grow, and spread my herbal landscaping plants. A wonderful feeling rises up within me when I stir the earth, something like being in Eden, in my imagination.

Rosemary in Bloom

Rosemary in Bloom

Of all the herbs I tend, of all the herbs I have ever tended, rosemary is one of the easiest. You can find seed for it, but starting rosemary from seed is really rather difficult for the novice grower.

I like to begin with a scion. (Pronounced: sigh un, by those who sell cars or write dictionaries, or sky un, by plant people.) A scion is merely a small branch broken off. With the rosemary plant, the best way is to find a woody (not new or green) sprig and break it off backward, causing a bit of bark, called a heel, to peel along with it.

Well-heeled scions, stripped

Well-heeled scions, stripped

Actually, to be sure of success, perhaps more like six scions would be better. But if you do not already have a rosemary bush, you can have really good success also, by buying a packet of fresh sprigs often available at a grocery. If they look limp, wait for a fresh delivery to buy them. These will be clipped, and not have the heel, but I’ve gotten them to grow, before, using this method.

Strip the leaves (needles) from the lower half of the sprigs and insert them all, stripped end down, into a pot of good soil. Dampen well with warm water and enclose the entire pot and all the contents in a clear plastic bag and tie shut, creating a little greenhouse. Place in a temperate area with good light, but not direct sun, and then wait.

Sprigs in soil

Sprigs in soil

After about 3 weeks, check to see if roots are forming. If so, you may set the plant(s) out where you want them to grow, permanently. That must be a sunny place; on the east or south side of a building is good. If the scions have not developed roots by six weeks, probably they will also be showing some signs of decay and will need to be tossed out. Too bad, but hey, try, try again!

Once you have a rosemary plant up and growing, do not worry about it much. If the weather is really hot and dry it will need irrigation. Otherwise, remember that these plants grow wild from Europe to Australia, so yours will likely be a tough one.

Snow on Rosemary

Snow on Rosemary

Mine has withstood lots of cold and lots of drought, just fine, not to mention kitties playing tag in the lower branches. So fun to cuddle them all perfumed!

Something about owning a rosemary bush makes a person feel like experimenting with Italian cooking, too, so you’ll be glad tomorrow is another at-home day!

_____________

Hooray! My post with a brand new rosemary recipe on it just appeared at Arkansas Farm Bureau’s Taste Arkansas blogsite! Run on over there and see what I’ve been inventing to DO with all these branches! Thanks!

In case you need another cookie recipe…

…Lavender Sugar Cookies to the rescue!

Lavender Sugar Cookies

Lavender Sugar Cookies

And here is the recipe:

1 lb butter, softened
1 c. sugar
1 c. powdered sugar

Blend above, well.

2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla

Blend in well.

4 1/2 c. flour
2 Tbsp. pulverized, food-grade lavender blossoms
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp cream of tartar

Sift above and mix in, well. Drop by teaspooon onto ungreased baking sheets. Flatten with glass dipped into sugar.

Bake at 375 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes. Mmm!

 

Pollen is so tiny, yet so troublesome to us, yet so necessary!

Seven Steps to Stop the Sneezing!

I have noticed it’s that time of year again–lots of searches leading to this one again.

Enjoy.

 

Itchy eyes, ears, nose, throat; runny eyes, nose; stuffy nose; and cough are just a few of the delights that visit us each year, if we are among the pollen afflicted.

It’s Fall Fever. This is a made-up name for the Fall malady that corresponds to Hay Fever which happens in Spring.

And it makes us feel like yuck.

Outside of chemicalizing oneself half to death, what can a person do?

I have found several ways to beat autumn’s ragweed, and I’d love to share them with you.

  1. The first thing I do is eat honey all year long.
    Stop Sneezing steps pollen seven stepsNot just any honey will do. It must be raw, as in uncooked. If the label isn’t boasting, the honey probably isn’t raw.
    It also must be native, as in: from the area where you live. Even better is from someone you actually know exists.*
    Why? Honey contains minuscule flower parts in various forms, and eating it daily helps me beat my pollen allergies, like an immunization.
  2. Outside of honey, I avoid all sugars.
    Sugar kills immunities, especially the super-processed sugars.
  3. I take vitamin C. A lot.
    Vitamin C is supposed to help with the body’s immunities, so is what I need. Also, for me, the things I’ve read about Vitamin C acting as a mild antihistamine are true.
    They say you can tell how much you need when you develop loose stools. They say to cut back a bit if that happens. I usually take 1000-2000 milligrams per day, in divided doses.
    (Addendum to the 9/13 posting: One teenager I’ve recently met had sneezing so bad that his nose would bleed regularly. After only two 500 mg doses of Vitamin C, he stopped with both symptoms. Now he uses only one dose per day for upkeep.)
  4. I wash my face a lot, and even rinse my eyes with artificial tears.
    Every time I feel the pollen effect, I wash it off. Notice the above magnified photo of pollen: It looks prickly like cactus. No wonder it bothers sensitive tissues!
    After washing, I apply a coating of lotion, or even make-up, to my face to make a barrier between my skin and pollen. That also helps me.
  5. I stay indoors and keep windows shut.
    I know, some cannot do this, but remember, the pollen is out there, not in here.
    (Addendum for 9/13: This is especially true during the hours from mid-morning to mid-afternoon.)
  6. If I find myself still miserable, I use heat on my face.
    I run a basin of hot water and dip water from it with a washcloth to hold on my face, renewing as it cools. Or I stand in the shower with hot water spraying on my face.
    Do NOT scald yourself!
    It takes 10 or 15 minutes, but this wet heat draws out the histamines in my body. Histamines are what cause allergic reactions, what anti-histamines circumvent. As the heat applied to my face draws out the histamines, my face is itchy and my nose grows stuffy. When that itching stops, all the histamines my body could produce are out. Most bodies cannot produce any more for 4 to 8 hours.
    That’s hours.
    Of no itching, sneezing, stuffy nose, watery eyes, etc. It’s plenty of time to take a nap, go to a restaurant, or visit a friend like a normal person.
  7. If I happen to become wheezy, I drink hot coffee.
    Coffee is supposed to be a good emergency substitute for asthma drugs. I don’t have asthma, but hot coffee helps me breathe when the pollen count is high.

There you have it: what I do instead of taking pills. Sometimes, when it really is tough outside, I have to add pills to my regimen, but not often.

I love not being tied to chemicals, all drowsy or else wired to the sky.

*I’m sure it would shock you to learn that it is quite legal for our honey to have corn syrup in it in large percentages, and for it to come from any country in the world. So stick with a local, known source.

Note for 8/10/13: So many folks have searched and found this page using the terms “sneezing first thing in the morning” I’ve decided to add my opinion, for what it’s worth.
I have noticed that the body shuts down some responses and reactions during sleep. Perhaps you have had the experience of sleeping through a loud storm or sleeping with a headache. It probably is a merciful mechanism that allows us sleep in spite of life’s difficulties.
I have noticed that when I am really sick with a cold, I might cough all night, and that might be good, but once I begin to recover, I also begin sleeping more peacefully, which I am sure also is good. However, on those mornings, I must cough lots to make up for lost time.
Could it be that sneezing is the same? We don’t sneeze at night, so we can sleep, but then comes the morning? Just thinking out loud, here.