After the bust that was the storm on Saturday, Mother Nature came back around and proved herself powerful and dumped a ton of ice and snow on us the last couple of nights; I woke up this morning to being completely snowed in. Thankfully a family friend came along and plowed us out, not without getting his truck stuck on our side hill. All of this time stuck indoors while Mother Nature does her thing has forced me to be productive, while I avoid going stir-crazy. Among the chores I did and the countless episodes of Friends I watched, I also came up with a recipe that I am excited to share with you in the coming week. It even involved using a calculator (what) – but don’t worry, you won’t need to!!
It may surprise you to know that I’m not much of a sweet tooth, which makes approximately zero sense given the nature of this food blog. I love to bake, the artistic nature and the science of it, but I prefer savoury dishes with good balance. Balance is really important to me in all aspects of my life – it’s the way my brain works, and I feel that I am easily set off-kilter if I ignore my need for balance. My idea of a good meal is one that includes carbs, protein, fat and veggies, has a variety of colours, and is balanced in taste; sweet, salty, sour, bitter, earthy. When I am planning my meals, I take into account all of these aspects; it has become second nature to me now, and often times I don’t realize that I’m doing it until somebody points it out. How do you plan your meals?
With balance in mind, I created this recipe. I have been wanting to incorporate herbs and spices that are well known for their savoury qualities into my baking for quite some time, but I felt uneasy about it. Although it suits my tastes much better, many people still have more of a traditional taste and mindset when it comes to their baked goods. These rosemary vanilla mini cakes are anything I could want in a cake. Their flavour is light, but yet pack a punch on your taste buds. Much like my other quickbread recipes, I added a whole grain flour to make a sturdier crumb and add a nutty flavour. The recipe calls for olive oil as apposed to coconut or canola, the purpose being to reinforce the savoury flavour; I used a basic, middle of the road olive oil here, nothing too expensive. I decided to compliment the lightly sweet and aromatic cake with a slightly tangy mascarpone frosting.
This recipe was designed for my 4 mini loaf pans, but would likely make 10 good sized muffins. Don’t fill your pan too full, or you’ll have some wonky shaped cakes like I did:
((If you decided to double this recipe, you could make a double layer 8 inch cake.))
Rosemary Vanilla Mini Cakes
with Vanilla Mascarpone Frosting
(makes 4 mini loaves)
For the cake:
- 1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
- 1/3 cup whole wheat flour
- scant 1/4 cup cane sugar
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1 large egg
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/2 cup milk (I used unsweetened almond, skim-2% is fine)
- 1/4 cup boiling water (may need slightly more depending on your flour)
- 1-2 tbsp honey (to taste)
- 2 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract)
- 3/4 tbsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped
For the frosting:
- 2 tbsp butter
- 3 tbsp mascarpone cheese
- 3/4 cup icing sugar
- 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste, or extract (optional – may need to add more icing sugar)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter and flour loaf pans lightly.
2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. Set aside.
3. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the egg and olive oil until thoroughly combined, followed by the milk and vanilla. Add to the dry ingredients, just barely mixing together, and slowly stir in the boiled water until just combined. Stir in the finely chopped rosemary and evenly distribute amongst your pans, filling them no more than 2/3 of the way full. Bake for 23-27 minutes, until tops are lightly golden, the edges come away from the pan, and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean (a few crumbs are okay). Allow to cool completely before frosting.
4. Meanwhile, prepare your frosting: in a bowl of a stand mixer, or a mixing bowl by hand, beat butter until slightly softened and it begins to stick to the sides of the bowl. Beat together mascarpone and butter until combined; add the vanilla now, if using. SIFT in powdered sugar and beat until it reaches your desired consistency.
5. Frost cakes! Chilled cakes frosted with chilled icing hold up much better and are easier to work with. Serve within a couple of hours, or refrigerate for up to a few days.
P.S.: I did a few renovations around here, adding a Recipes page to make navigation far easier, as well as some social media buttons (to your right) so that you can follow me elsewhere. As well, I have been wanting to change the name of this space from Little Adventures for quite some time to something a bit more suited to this food blog. So, welcome to the newly renovated Savour the Sweet food blog!