The art of baking

PUBLISHED: 12:00 17 August 2015

Orange and rosemary cake by Carol Kearns

Orange and rosemary cake by Carol Kearns

Carol Kearns

Known as The Cake Lady when a mature student at Norwich University of the Arts, Carol Kearns of Wymondham combines a love of baking with a talent for illustration. Words and illustrations: Carol Kearns

Growing up in the West Midlands, it was always a major event travelling to the coast. I remember only one occasion when I went on a day trip – an outing to Weston-super-Mare with the Brownies. The tide was out. Imagine our disappointment – all those miles and we didn’t even get to paddle in the sea!

Even after living in Norfolk for nearly two decades now, I’m still thrilled at the thought of a day trip to the coast. One of my favourites is catching the Coasthopper bus service from Cley to Stiffkey and then walking back along the Norfolk Coast Path. While there are some lovely places to stop for lunch along the way, for me the perfect day consists of a picnic - with some fresh dressed Cromer crabs quickly purchased from the Cley Smokehouse before the bus arrives.

Of course, a picnic wouldn’t be complete without a flask of hot tea and a slice of cake. This orange and rosemary cake is particularly suited to eating al fresco – easy to transport and epitomising, as it does, the flavours of a warm summer’s day.

Orange and rosemary cake

1 tsp fresh rosemary leaves, finely chopped

175 unsalted butter, softened

175g caster sugar

3 large eggs, at room temperature, beaten

2 tsp vanilla extract

2 tbsp milk

225g self-raising white flour, sifted

For the icing

1 tsp fresh rosemary leaves, finely chopped

Finely grated zest of half an orange

1 tbsp orange juice

150g icing sugar, sifted

You will need

A 2lb/900g loaf tin

Butter and greaseproof paper

Wooden or metal skewer

Cocktail stick

Makes 8-10 slices

1 Preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark four.

2 Lightly grease and line the loaf tin with greaseproof paper, extending it by 2cm beyond the sides of the tin.

3 Put the rosemary in a bowl with the butter and caster sugar and, using an electric hand mixer, beat until pale and light in consistency.

4 Continuing to use the electric hand mixer, add the eggs a little at a time, beating thoroughly after each addition. If the mixture threatens to curdle add a small amount of the flour. Fold in the vanilla extract, milk and flour.

5 Spoon into the tin and level the surface. Bake for about 50-60 minutes until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.

6 Make the icing while the cake is baking. Place the rosemary into a small bowl and pour over 2 tbsp of boiling water. Leave to infuse and when cool strain and add to the icing sugar with the orange zest and juice. Mix to the consistency of single cream, adding a little water if necessary.

7 When the cake comes out of the oven, pierce the top with the cocktail stick and then brush over the icing ensuring it is spread evenly over the top of the cake. Leave to cool in the tin.

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