Recipe: Ruth Pretty’s Homely Rosemary & Lemon Cake

Breadcrumbs and almonds form the base for this unusual Italian cake, which is delicate in texture and big on flavour.

Words: Ruth Pretty  Photos: Carolyn Robertson


For the cake:
⅔ cup ground almonds
60g bread (1 x very thick slice of bread such as sourdough or ciabatta — can be gluten-free) chopped or torn
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary leaves
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup caster sugar
4 eggs, separated
¾ cup olive oil

For the syrup:
½ cup lemon juice
⅓ cup water
¼ cup caster sugar
2 small sprigs rosemary
whipped cream, to serve


Heat the oven to 180°C. Grease a 23cm cake tin (preferably springform), then line with lightly greased baking paper.

Spread the ground almonds on a small baking tray and bake for 3–4 minutes until very lightly browned. Set aside to cool. Put the chopped bread and rosemary in a food processor and process until mealy. Tip into a bowl, then add the ground almonds and lemon zest. Sift sugar and baking powder into the mixture and stir to combine.

Place the egg yolks into the food processor. Keep the motor running and slowly pour in the oil. Stir this into the bread and almond mixture. Place egg whites into a very clean bowl and whisk until stiff. Add half the egg whites to the cake mixture and fold until barely incorporated. Add remaining whites and gently fold until combined.

Dollop mixture into the prepared tin and smooth the top. Bake for 40–45 minutes or until the cake is coming away from the tin’s sides and the top is firm to the touch. Cool completely on a rack.

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While the cake is cooling, make the syrup. Put all the ingredients into a small pot set over a low heat. Stir until sugar has dissolved, then increase the heat and bring syrup to the boil. Simmer for 4–5 minutes or until the syrup has reduced and thickened. Discard the rosemary.

Remove the cake from the tin and set it on a serving plate. Using a skewer, pierce the cake repeatedly and then slowly pour over the syrup. If the cake is cold, lightly warm the syrup in a microwave. If the cake is warm, use cold syrup. Slice and serve with whipped cream.


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NZ Life and Leisure This article first appeared in NZ Life & Leisure Magazine.
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