Blood Orange and Rosemary Cake

February 1st, 2013

This has been a difficult post to write.  I just deleted my original first paragraph that was full of disillusionment in this recipe and the way I executed it.  I literally thought I had “executed” the cake.  But after time away from the results and taste testing a few times, I feel better about the cake and can pass on a few tips to you to make it better than my experiment.

This Blood Orange and Rosemary Cake is featured in my new favorite cookbook What Katie Ate.  Katie Quinn Davies is an Irish transplant to Australia and is a very talented photographer and food blogger with a blog of the same name.  I was transfixed by the picture of this cake in her cookbook.  The blood oranges leant a beautiful bright pink to the frosting on her cake.  I knew it would be one of the first recipes I would make.  But I had to wait until blood oranges were in season.  They finally arrived at our supermarket this week.

I followed the recipe to a tee.  I noted that the three eggs that were listed in the ingredients were not mentioned in the written directions.  But I pretty much know when to add eggs to a batter.  I also discovered that you can go to this page on the internet to find the corrections to the cookbook.  I felt like 400 degrees was too hot to bake a cake.  I was right, especially in my oven.  Before I could rescue the cake the edges were blackened.  In my photos you can see that my cake looks like chocolate.  That is actually scorched batter.

When I poured the orange syrup over the cake the pulp in it stayed on the top and made funny ridges under the too runny frosting that I added later.  Straining it in a fine sieve would have been a good idea. Also the color of the frosting was not as vibrant as I would have liked so I added more blood orange juice, which thinned the frosting too much.  That was the only diversion from the recipe.  So I learned a lot.  The texture of the cake is good.  When I first tasted it, I thought the rosemary was a bit overpowering.  The directions call for three sprigs of rosemary.  How large are the sprigs?  I think mine were too large.  But after an hour or two David said “You know, this cake is growing on me”.  I began enjoying it too and feel that it has great potential.  It makes a great, not too sweet, treat with tea or coffee.  I had a piece for breakfast this morning.  So here it is- not looking as great as Katie’s cake.

But I do want to try it again.  Here is the recipe if you would like to give it a try.  I’ve added my changes in italics.


2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 cup superfine sugar – 1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cointreau – triple sec
3 large eggs
1 blood orange, peeled, pith removed and cut into segments
1 orange, peeled, pith removed and cut into segments
3 sprigs rosemary, leaves picked – 2 tablespoons
2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
2 teaspoons baking powder, sifted

Blood Orange Syrup:
Juice of 2 blood oranges – strain through fine sieve
Juice of 2 oranges – strain through fine sieve
1 tablespoon sugar

Blood Orange Frosting:
Juice of 1 blood orange
2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

Preheat the oven to 400 F ( I would recommend 350 F).  Grease a 6 cup capacity bundt pan (alternatively, grease and line a 9-inch sprinform cake pan).

Use an electric mixer to cream the butter and sugar for 10 minutes until light and creamy.  Add the Cointreau (Triple Sec) and the 3 eggs beaten and beat until combined.

Whizz the blood orange, orange and rosemary in a food processor until the rosemary leaves are finely chopped and the oranges are blended to a pulp.  Add to the butter and sugar mixture and beat together on low speed until combined.

In a separate bowl, mix together the flour and baking poser.  With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the flour mixture to the butter until everything is well incorporated.

Pour the cake batter into the prepared pan.  Bake for 45-50 minutes or until the top is golden and a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean.

Meanwhile, to make the blood orange syrup, place the ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring constantly.  Reduce the heat to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 10-15 minutes or until the sugar has dissolved and the syrup has reduced by about a third.  Strain syrup through a fine sieve and return to saucepan and keep warm while cake is baking.

Leave the cake to cool a little before transferring it to a wire rack.  Place a plate underneath the rack to catch any drips, then prick the top of the cake with a skewer, spoon the warm syrup over the cake and leave it to be absorbed.

Make the frosting by combining the blood orange juice and confectioners’ sugar until smooth.  Drizzle the frosting all over the cooled cake, then chill the cake in the fridge for 20 minutes before serving.

Printable recipe


11 responses to “Blood Orange and Rosemary Cake”

  1. Lyla Fox says:

    I love this post. You’ve let us walk with you through a recipe that didn’t quite turn out. We’ve all been there. Thanks for making us feel like we’re almost on your level of culinary expertise–which, in reality, we all know we are not. I too love the cookbook and with your corrections, may give the “bloody” cake a try.

  2. Sue@the view from Great Island says:

    Your experience with this cake sounds a lot like mine with a cake that I’m planning to post tomorrow. I love citrus cakes, and I’ve had similar problems getting the glazes just right, too. It’s nice to know that cookbook authors leave out critical parts of their recipes, too!

  3. Eileen says:

    It sounds like an interesting cake. It’s nice to know that things don’t always go as planned for someone as talented in the kitchen as you, too. 🙂 I think you learn a lot from posts like this. Mary at One Perfect Bite shares things that she’s not too keen on sometimes, too, and I think those are great learning experiences for all.

  4. bellini says:

    I like the changes you have made Penny. Blood oranges are abundant now so this is a very seasonal treat.

  5. Penny says:

    Thank you for posting the problems you had and the changes you want to or did make. I have to tell you that I really loved that first picture!

    I am finally done with most of the painting of my house, so I will be starting back on From Harvest To Table soon….finally!


  6. Sam Hoffer says:

    I too like the changes you’ve made Penny. Rosemary is an interesting ingredient. I find what one person recommends for rosemary may not be to everyone’s liking. The rosemary I grow at home seems to be very different from the rosemary in the packages at the grocery store.

    Have a lovely weekend.

  7. Karen says:

    It’s too bad when you pay a bunch of money for a cookbook and there are a lot of omissions in it. I like a not-too-sweet cake – I’m sure I’d have liked this.

  8. L.A. Brown says:

    Welcome to my world. I feel like this every time I bake. I have been so busy at work, I’ve hardly had time to cook, let alone browse that beautiful cookbook. That’s too bad the recipe may not be as complete as it should. At least you know how to adjust if you feel something is awry.

  9. christinefreshlocalandbest says:

    Penny, this cake is beautiful! I like how you staged it. I’m glad that you are able to find ways to continue to improve a recipe. This one probably just needed to be more specific.

  10. Susan says:

    It’s too bad that the recipe wasn’t thoroughly tested before being published. It sounds delicious and I’m thankful for your experience and notes!

  11. Sharon Nimtz says:

    Penny, your photographs of this cake are lovely. The black background is striking, and I love the little mess of crumbs. You’re doing some interesting lighting there. As for the cake, I’m sure I’d love it but I really am leaving wheat flour behind unless I can get some heirloom or European flour — Europeans are allergic to GMOs, LOL.

© Penny Klett, Lake Lure Cottage Kitchen. All rights reserved.