It is hot outside. So hot. High of 102 degrees hot. There are a few things you can do in this kind of weather and before I had a/c my version of today would have looked like re-wetting a tank top with ice water several times and not going upstairs because it was unbearable. Now I have a/c but that also means I am stuck inside and baking seemed like the way to go. It certainly isn’t apple and pumpkin weather and chocolate seems too heavy, but I am also feeling done with summer. Berries and watermelon are heaven, but frankly, I am choosing denial about the heat. So I was looking for something light but earthy, and not too sweet (a common requirement for me).
Starting with this recipe from Smitten Kitchen, I developed a new flavor profile that fit what I was looking for while on a/c lockdown. I used a particularly grassy olive oil with the purpose of bringing out the brightness of the lemons and the earthiness of the rosemary. Nearly all my cakes get adapted in include yogurt or sour cream for moisture and texture, so starting with a recipe based on that concept is probably wise. I finished it off with a glaze of rosemary simple syrup. If you are looking for a sweeter treat, drizzle more syrup on each slice or pair with a favorite sour cream frosting recipe.
Just the type of end of summer, lazy Sunday afternoon treat I was looking for.
Lemon Rosemary Vanilla Yogurt Cake
1 cup whole milk plain unsweetened greek yogurt
1/3 cup olive oil
1 cup sugar
zest of one lemon
juice of one lemon
1/2 vanilla bean
2 sprigs worth of rosemary leaves
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
Rosemary Simple Syrup
2 sprigs of rosemary
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
Cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8-inch round cake pan and line the bottom with parchment paper. (Seriously, I didn’t use paper and was rilled with woe and regret)
Add chopped rosemary, scrapped vanilla bean seeds and lemon zest to the 1 cup of sugar. Work together with the back of a spoon to release oils and flavors into the sugars.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the yogurt, oil, sugar, and juice. Whisk in the eggs one by one. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add to wet ingredients and stir with a spoon until just combined.
Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the top is golden brown and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.
Syrup: Place rosemary, water and sugar in a small pan. Bring to a boil over medium heat. As soon as it begins to boil, cover with lid and remove from heat. Let sit until cool while flavors integrate. Remove sprigs. Syrup can be stored in airtight bottle in fridge for about 2 weeks. Use extra syrup for cocktails. Seriously.
Waste not, want not: Put your leftover lemon peel and scraped out vanilla bean in a small pot with a sprig of rosemary. Cover with water and simmer on the stove for the MOST AMAZING scent to fill you home.