It’s the full moon stretching its golden arms toward the indigo sea. The long, searing notes of John Coltrane piercing your heartstrings in a crowded, dusky club. It’s the haute couture of cake; the Botticelli of bread; the ultimate apologia for a midday treat. It’s a taste that demands a soundtrack. It’s earthy, heavy, aromatic, and completely enticing . . . it’s the Rosemary Olive Oil Cake from 101 Cookbooks.
I adore the aroma of rosemary. It first fell into my radar many years ago at, of all places, the beauty shop. My hairdresser used Aveda’s rosemary mint shampoo, and it smelled so luscious I went out and planted a patch of both herbs under my kitchen window hoping to catch the wafting aromas while washing dishes. I occasionally snip it to wrap around kebobs, season a soup, or put in a marinade for chicken, but most often I just enjoy watching it thrive.
Ophelia pointed out that rosemary is for remembrance. My Aromatherapy Decoder says it’s also good for the heart and liver, for sight and speech. So I mix a few drops of the oil with grapefruit and lavender oils and broadcast the mixture into my office in hopes of channeling some combination of creativity and calm into my work. Does it work? I like to think, at the very least, I draw some inspiration from the aroma. At least my office smells nice – like my garden.
So, even though I’m not a cake kind of a girl, when this recipe popped up in a Facebook status update it caught my attention. Spelt flour and bittersweet chocolate aren’t the usual ingredients I have in the pantry, so I made a special trip to the market to gather the necessities. Kid Two helped me make it one afternoon, sitting on the kitchen floor with a mallet, smashing a hunk of bittersweet chocolate into irregularly sized chunks and slivers. It’s an odd, if simple enough, recipe. The wet ingredients combined don’t quite mix, producing an interesting mess of bubbles. And, as suggested, I baked it in a loaf pan and broiled it in the end to get a golden brown color on top – otherwise when fully cooked it’s – beige (not a color anyone likes to see on the top of a cake).
The second time I made this, I tossed in a handful of roughly chopped dried Bing cherries. Turned out to be an excellent addition, a nice counterpoint to the chocolate. The cherries also gave some depth to the sweetness with a subtle tartness that didn’t overpower the rosemary.
Brace yourself; it will not taste as you expect. It’s not sweet but not quite savory, either. At first bite you will think, “Hmmm” in a bemused sort of way. At second bite you will think, “Hmmm” in an interested sort of way. And at third bite you will simply think, “Mmmm” in a contented sort of way. Don’t even think about reaching to slather it with butter or honey. It has enough integrity to stand alone, accompanied only by a cup of jasmine tea. Enjoy.