I must admit, I cringe a little when I hear the term “inspirational quote.” Makes me think of self-help books in which a single thought is expanded out to fill an entire book when a paragraph might have sufficed. So many experts – with so little and yet so much to say…
And yet, I’m incredibly fond of literary quotations. I love that the words of so many great writers carry on and make as much sense decades, and sometimes, centuries after they were written.
So this week, when I was packing to leave to visit my mother, I ran across this quotation of J. M. Barrie and I got a little excited. (You know, Sir J. M. Barrie, author of Peter Pan and so many other stories, books, poems.)
Shall we make a new rule of life from tonight: always try to be a little kinder than is necessary.
It’s a great rule of life – maybe the best – one we could spend our whole lifetime practicing. This got me thinking about the rules of life in general. Not something we pay a lot of attention to anymore if we aren’t part of an organized religion. Of course, we can do a lot of hand waving and talking about ethics and morality and general decency and doing unto others and manners…. but really I think trying to be a little kinder than is necessary and eating well could be way up the list of rules for me. I have another new rule too – turn my computer off by 10pm. And go to bed and read….
But the rules bring me to this rosemary and olive oil cake. I found the recipe on What’s Cooking – the food blog of Amanda, an NYC lawyer and writer. Her food appeals to me – healthy, flavourful, beautiful. She eats well – one of the rules….
Her photographs are serious works of art. If you don’t believe me take a quick look at this shot of lavender and rosemary. Plus Amanda is intelligent and lovely and kind. I suspect she’s kinder than is strictly necessary. And she’s a fabulous cook. I know because I cook her stuff. Like this cake.
I made the recipe pretty much exactly as Amanda did – except I didn’t have any lavender and I used brandy instead of Grand Marnier. I did look longingly at some lavender growing in a front garden down the street but in the end – I just used my own rosemary which I grow year round in a pot. It was a gift from a good friend. This is a beautiful, moist cake which feeds a crowd and also freezes well. Don’t hesitate to use at least 1 tbsp of chopped rosemary – the flavour is not overpowering at all.
Here’s my version & thanks Amanda for all the beautiful ongoing inspiration….
Rosemary Olive Oil Cake
What you’ll need: spring form pan or equivalent, whisk, grater
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 3/4 cup sugar (you will likely need this even though it seems like a lot – it makes a big cake)
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 1/4 cup milk (I used almond milk)
- 1/2+ tablespoon rosemary, chopped (I used closer to a tablespoon of chopped fresh rosemary)
- 3 large eggs
- 1 1/2 tablespoon grated orange zest
- 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
- a splash of brandy if you have it on hand
Heat the oven to 350° F. Grease a 9-inch spring form cake pan.
In a bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and rosemary. In another bowl, whisk the olive oil, almond milk, eggs, orange zest, juice and brandy. Add the dry ingredients; whisk until just combined. It seems like a lot of liquid but don’t panic. It all works out in the end.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 40-45 minutes – then check – and return to oven if necessary. Should bounce back when gently pressed and a cake tester should come out clean. Transfer the cake to a rack and let cool for 30 minutes.
Run a knife around the edge of the pan, invert the cake onto the rack and let cool completely, 2 hours. Dredge with icing sugar. Serve it to your friends and family and if there’s any leftover – send it away with them in the spirit of J.M. Barrie.