A Summer Cake on a Winter Day

I’ve made this cake lots of times but always in the middle of the summer.  It’s decorated with delicate lilac rosemary flowers so seasonally I suppose it’s a cake for spring/summer.  I’ve been eyeing the huge rosemary plant in our garden for weeks now, watching the flowers bud them bloom and slowly get bedraggled and washed away by the incessant rain.  I wanted to make it while I could still use the flowers as it feels quite possible that we could wake up tomorrow and be under 3ft of snow.

Honey, cinnamon and finely chopped rosemary give the cake a subtle musky flavour and the texture is a little like gingerbread.  It is really, really good and it seems just right on a day when the rain was horizontal and winter coats were dug out again.

The recipe is by Tessa Kiros and you can find it in her beautiful book Apples for Jam, which I will freely admit to buying purely for the picture of the little red T-bar shoes on the cover.

Honey Cake
150g / 5.5oz butter
115g / 4oz dark brown sugar
175g / 6oz runny honey
200g / 7oz plain flour
1.5 tspn baking powder
half tspn ground cinnamon 
1 tbspn finely chopped rosemary
2 eggs beaten
For the icing:
250g / 9oz icing sugar
100g / 3.5oz butter
1 tspn grated lemon zest
2 tbspn lemon juice
Preheat the oven to 180oC / Gas 4.
Grease and line the bottom of a 22cm / 8.5 inch springform cake tin.
Melt the butter, sugar and honey in a small pan and add 1 tbspn water, remove from the heat and leave for at least 15 minutes to cool.
Sieve the flour, cinnamon and baking powder into a large bowl, add the chopped rosemary and mix together.
Add the cooled honey mixture and the eggs, mix all together and pour into the greased tin.
Bake for 35-40 mins or until a skewer comes out clean from the middle of the cake.
Allow to cool completely in the tin.
To make the icing mix the icing sugar with the softened butter, add the lemon zest and juice and mix together.
Spread on the cooled cake and decorate with scattered flowers. 
Light the fire.
Make pot of tea.
Put the Muppet Movie on and ignore the wettest drought that there has surely ever been.


  • Hi there! Am new to your site and have just linked -was pointed in this direction by your cousin Corinne. What a lovely recipe? I have never put rosemary in a cake before but am keen to try. More lovely recipes please!

  • Hi Lucy
    Good to hear from you. The site is really new, about 3 weeks old so I’m new to it too! I love this recipe as well, the rosemary , honey and dark muscovado sugar gives it a lovely subtle gingerbreadiness (despite the lack of ginger…)I’ve just clicked to follow your site, really interesting. I’ll look forward to reading more about your life in HK. Good call Corinne! x

  • Anonymous

    Have been intending to make this since last week. Now the said honey cake is in the oven. Just a delight to make , will report on the taste later. It was the use of the flowers that had me sold on this cake. The best tasting bowl scrapings ever tasted!!
    I am now the proud owner of a springform cake tin. That spells serious baking in my book.
    Love Lola xx

  • Hello Lola, I hope that the cake was as good baked as it was out of the mixing bowl? The flowers are a beautiful addition and the springform was a damn good investment! x

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