What Katie Ate by Katie Quinn Davies is the featured book on the Cookbook Guru this month. I made Katie’s Rosemary and Blood Orange Cake. It turned out pretty well, despite some massive hesitations on my part.
If you are not familiar with Katie Quinn Davies, Ladyredspecs of Please Pass The Recipe wrote a great post on her background and work here.
One of the issues she mentions with the recipe she tried, a carrot cake that was definitely on my list to make, is a certain vagueness Katie has around specific quantities of some ingredients. This made me chuckle because only a few days before I’d had a very intense (and hilarious) discussion on just that point and it involved rosemary, one of the key ingredients in this cake.
I mentioned I was thinking of making this cake to the work girls. One of them visibly paled. “Go easy on the rosemary” she said. She then told us this awful story of how she had made a rosemary panna cotta for a dinner party and it turned out terribly.
“People were gagging, ” she told us. “The rosemary was soooo strong”.
We asked how much she put in. “Four sprigs” she said. There was then one of those talks which only happens when you really don’t want to go back to work. How big is a sprig? She thought it was the size of the stick you get in the pack from the supermarket. I think it is something about the size of your little finger. One of the girls thought it was about the size of the tip of your little finger. The internet was not really helpful. So we never really got an answer. She used four sprigs of rosemary in her gag inducing dish.
I got home and checked Katie’s recipe. It called for three sprigs.
So what to do? It was less than the panna cotta’s four sprigs and my idea of a sprig was smaller than my friend’s. But all of a sudden three sprigs seemed like a lot. Rosemary is a strong flavour. I really didn’t want people gagging over my cake.
In the end I gave in to fear and used two sprigs. And, as one of my friends commented “You can’t even taste the rosemary”. You could taste it could but it was faint. I should have trusted Katie, I think three sprigs would have been about right. And a more exact measure of rosemary would have been ideal!
The Rosemary and Blood Orange cake looked lovely. However, my version was quite bland. This was more than likely my fault for being a coward with the rosemary; it certainly would have been a bit more interesting if that flavour had been stronger.
It was a shame because the orange flavour was pleasant and the structure of the cake was great – the crumb was good, it was moist on the inside and golden on the outside. It just needed a little something…possibly another sprig of rosemary for it to level up from being a decent, if ordinary cake to something spectacular.
The cake keeps really well but the rosemary kind of works against it – after a few days it is hard to tell if those little green flecks are rosemary or teeny specks of mould.
I would like to say I would try this cake again but currently my spreadsheet of cakes to make contains 500+ recipes. So, let’s say I bake a cake every week, which I don’t and this goes to the back of the queue, that would mean baking it again in about ten years.
Actually, that seems about right. Let’s catch up in 2025 for an update on this!
Katie’s recipe, and her stunning photo of this cake can be found here.