• The unexpected combinations in this very grown-up, elegant lemon, rosemary and olive oil layer cake with cream-cheese icing are perfect – the sponge is delicately flavoured and the icing silky. It makes for a delicious tea time treat.

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    Lemon, rosemary and olive oil layer cake with cream-cheese icing

    Serves: 1 large layer cake/5 individual layer cakes
    Cooking Time: 2 hours


    • Lemon, rosemary and olive oil layer cake

    • 2 eggs
    • 190g castor sugar
    • 5ml (1 tsp) vanilla essence
    • 160ml olive oil
    • 250g cake flour, sifted
    • 5ml (1 tsp) bicarbonate of soda
    • 5ml (1 tsp) baking powder
    • pinch salt
    • 15ml (1 tbsp) fresh rosemary leaves, finely chopped
    • zest and juice of 4 lemons
    • 125ml (½ cup) buttermilk
    • Cream-cheese icing

    • 500g cream cheese
    • 250g butter, softened
    • 1kg icing sugar, sifted
    • zest of 2 lemons
    • 5ml (1 tsp) vanilla essence
    • pinch salt
    • charred lemon wedges, to serve
    • fresh rosemary sprigs, to serve



    Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease and line the base of three 20cm round cake tins for a large layer cake, or fifteen 7cm-round cake tins for individual cakes.


    In a mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the eggs, castor sugar, 5ml (1 tsp) vanilla essence and olive oil together until pale and thick. Add the flour, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder, pinch of salt and 15ml (1 tbsp) rosemary to the egg mixture and gently combine by hand until mixed through. Add the zest and juice of 4 lemons and the buttermilk and mix well.


    Divide the batter evenly among the prepared cake tins and bake in the oven, 30 minutes for the large cakes and 20 minutes for the individual cakes.


    While the cakes bake, prepare the icing by beating the cream cheese and butter together until fluffy. Add the icing sugar in 2 batches, beating slowly at first, until well combined. Add the zest of 2 lemons, the 5ml (1 tsp) vanilla and pinch of salt and beat again.


    When the cakes are completely cooled, remove from the tins. To assemble the large layer cake or individual cakes, place the first cake layer/s on a serving platter and spread with a third of the icing. If making individual cakes, use a dollop of icing between the layers. Spread the icing a little, before placing another cake layer on top. Repeat with the 3 layers. Lightly ice the outside of the cake/s and decorate with charred lemon wedges and fresh rosemary sprigs to serve.

    Lemon, rosemary and olive oil layer cake with cream-cheese icing

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