Rosemary Citrus Cake with Mascarpone-Honey Frosting

September 24, 2013

"I want to say something so embarrassing about September that even the leaves start blushing and turning red."

~ Jarod Kintz
Autumn has arrived and I've officially reached mid 30-hood. I'm slowing coming to terms with the fact that it's time to let go of the bond I had have with summer (and my twenties). Today, for instance, I'm wearing a nubby oatmeal-coloured, oversized sweater and a pair of grey woolen socks - thick socks; socks that will never slip comfortably into my favourite ballet flats. I'm starting to lengthen my nightly showers, too - trying to postpone that frigid moment when the water turns off and the warmth of the towel is still a few agonizing seconds away. 

I'm moodier during the autumnal months, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. There's a certain, almost raw, clarity of thought that comes from sadness. Writing, if I can escape my inhibitions, is much easier when I'm pensive. And baking becomes a form of creative (edible) expression - at least until I'm brave enough to share my poetry, or finally take up that long pipe dream, acting. Maybe next spring...

rosemary citrus cake with mascarpone-honey frosting :: une gamine dans la cuisine

My birthday falls on the cusp of two seasons. The weather this year has been especially manic, last week it was a sweltering, wonderful 80 degrees - today I'm huddled in an oversize sweater, trying to stretch woolen socks up past my knees. This cake is an ode to the seasons - a passing of the baton from summer to fall. I mentioned in a previous post that rosemary always makes me think of Simon & Garfunkel and Simon & Garfunkel always make me think of autumn. And whilst I bake with lemons and limes all year 'round, their airy bright dispositions will always make them summer's diplomats.

rosemary citrus cake with mascarpone-honey frosting :: une gamine dans la cuisine

I Loved this cake! You will too, hopefully. Because it's made with butter instead of oil, the cake is on the denser side of the spectrum - that heaviness is tempered, beautifully, by a tart lemon curd filling. As usual, my favourite element is the frosting. It's an earthy, woodsy frosting with hints of honey and lemon. I had to restrain myself from sampling too much with a spoon. Please don't be intimated by the recipe, it's much easier than it looks at first glance. Please note that the recipe is written for two layers but can easily be doubled to make four (don't worry about doubling the lemon curd, you'll have more than enough for a quad cake!). Also, don't worry if your cake is crooked (mine was!). I still have yet to make a perfectly symmetrical layer cake, thankfully frosting fixes just about anything.

Happy autumn, everyone! (To those of you who are lucky, happy spring!) xo

rosemary citrus cake with mascarpone-honey frosting :: une gamine dans la cuisine

Rosemary Citrus Cake with Mascarpone-Honey Frosting
makes one 2 layer 8-inch cake {recipe can easily be doubled to make 4 layers}

for the cake
2 Tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped
2 Tablespoons grated lime zest (about 5 regular limes or 10 key limes)
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
12 Tablespoons (that's 1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
3 room temperature eggs
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk, shaken

for the lemon curd filling
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 egg yolks
2 eggs
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into cubes

for the frosting
8 oz mascarpone cheese, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup (that's 1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1/4 cup honey
1 Tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
3 - 4 cups confectioners' sugar
1 - 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Prepare the cake: Preheat the oven to 350 F. Butter two 8 x 2-inch deep round cake pans, line the bottom of pans with parchment paper, butter the parchment and lightly flour the entire pans - gently tap out any excess.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the rosemary, lime zest, and sugar. Use your fingers to rub the rosemary and lime into the sugar until moist and fragrant. Add the butter. Using the paddle attachment, beat on medium speed until light and fluffy. Scrape down sides of the bowl. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. After you add the final egg, beat in the almond extract until the batter is pale and thick.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

Alternate adding the flour mixture and coconut milk to the batter, beginning and ending with the flour and only beating until each addition is just combined - scape down the bowl as needed.

Divide the batter evenly between prepared cake pans. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the cakes are golden and a tester inserted into the center of a cake comes out clean. Remove the pans from the oven and place onto cooling rack(s). Allow the cakes to rest in the pans for about 15 minutes before removing. Cool completely before adding the filling and frosting. {Note: The cakes can be made two days ahead of time. Be sure they're tightly covered in saran wrap and store in the refrigerator.}

Prepare the lemon curd filling: Place a mesh strainer over a large heat-proof bowl: Set aside.
In a medium saucepan over low heat, whisk together the lemon juice, sugar, egg yolks, and eggs. Add the cubes of butter and stir until the butter has melted. Turn the heat up to med-low. Stirring constantly, cook until the mixture thickens and takes on an almost pudding-like consistency (this can take 8-12 minutes depending on the heat level). Strain the curd into the heat-proof bowl. {Note: The mesh strainer will catch any egg white that might have curdled during the cooking process.} Allow the curd to come to room temperature. Press it has cooled off, press a piece of saran wrap directly on the surface - to prevent "skin" from forming. Refrigerate until ready to use. {Note: You won't need the entire batch of curd for the cake. Well covered and refrigerated, the lemon curd will last for about five days. Enjoy on waffles, crumpets, or by the spoonful!}

Prepare the frosting: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitter with the paddle attachment, beat the mascarpone cheese and butter together until well combined (about 5-8 minutes on med. speed). Add the honey and rosemary - beat to combine. Gradually add 3 cups of confectioners' sugar, about 1/2 cup at a time, beating well after each addition. Add one Tablespoon of lemon juice and beat to combine. If the frosting looks too thin, slowly add the remaining cup of confectioners' sugar until it reaches a spreadable consistency. If it's too thick, add a little bit more lemon juice. {Note: A little bit of juice goes a long way so don't add too much all at once.}

Assemble the cake: If the cakes have domed tops, use a serrated knife to flatten them out. Place one layer onto a serving plate. Spread about 1/4 cup of lemon curd over the entire surface. Place the second layer on top of the curd. Use a small amount of frosting to coat the top layer and the sides of the cake (this will be the crumb coat). Place the cake in the fridge for about 30 minutes. Once the crumb coat has hardened, use the rest of the frosting to frost the top and sides again. Garnish with rosemary if desired.

inspired by Katie at the Kitchen Door

rosemary citrus cake with mascarpone-honey frosting :: une gamine dans la cuisine


  1. A fabulous cake and delightful combination of flavors! I really like that idea.



  2. I am just not into fall either and thankfully it's still warm enough during the day here where I can pretend it's not coming. What you said about lengthening showers - yes!

    What a beautiful cake - so many layers of fabulous flavors in one!

  3. Such a beautiful cake, Valerie! Will you share your poetry with us someday soon?

  4. Beauty, I'm absolutely enchanted by these flavors and wish I could have a big slice for lunch instead of the healthier choice I'm about to make ;). And yes, frosting fixes just about everything. xo

  5. Just lovely. The writing, the photos, the cake, your thoughts. I just love everything about your posts.

    I really envy you for living in a place where you experience different seasons and it makes life more interesting. Living in the desert is plain boring. Trust me.

    I'm addicted to anything with mascarpone these days so I'll have to give this a try. Thank you!

  6. you always have the best of flavors going on :)

  7. The cake looks broodingly beautiful! I love cakes with honey, rosemary and lemon so this is going straight to the top of my baking list.

  8. Sounds lovely - perhaps a weekend project soon, thanks

  9. I'm a little jealous you get to experience fall. Here it's hot during the day and just cool enough to be able to sleep at night. I'm in a much better mood when it cools, so I can bake more. I love this woodsy, citrusy combo you have here. I say go for it, you should explore acting.

  10. What a lovely post and such a gorgeous combination of flavors. I just love cakes like this! It has been really hard to say goodbye to summer this year!

  11. That cake ... gurrrrl, you make a gorgeous cake!! It's absolutely beautiful. I am loving the layers, but the stuff in between is what I like to hang with. :-D

    Happy Birthday!! And 35 ain't that bad... ok, yeah, it sucks. ;-)


  12. You seriously killed it with this cake! Perfection!!!

  13. happy happy happy birthday sweet friend!
    what a lovely way to bid adieu to summer and welcome in autumn, as well as celebrate another year of life for you. <3

  14. This cake is gorgeous, and the flavors are a perfect pair. Now I want a pair of thick knitted socks. They sound cozy.

  15. A very happy birthday to you and wishing plenty sunny, warm and joyful moments!
    The cake is gorgeous and perfect to celebrate! Cheers :)

  16. Happy Birthday, Valerie! Lovely cake with my favorite kind of filling. Citrus curd is so easy to make, but many peeps are intimidated. Like we both said on our blogs, they need not be. Thanks for sharing and keep cozy and warm!

  17. Happy birthday!! what a supremely exquisite layer cake - I would do anything to have even just a slice of this! as usual, I just love everything about this post. I know I shouldn't complain, but I would love to have a chilly day and get to curl up in oversize sweaters and thick socks. alas, I'm still rockin the shorts and dresses.

  18. This cake sounds so delicious!!! I would really like to give it a try. So curious about the combination of flavours! I love autumn and it would be certainly better with a slice of your cake and a cup of tea.
    Happy Birthday!!!

  19. I love a dense layer cake with luscious frosting. Happy belated birthday!

  20. Loved hearing your thoughts on the season (as a writer I very much relate) and this cake looks lovely. Don't you love adding rosemary to sweet things?

  21. I too am coming to grips with the fall season. Getting older certainly has it's positives and its challenges - but simply being here is a good thing in my book. Your cake is absolutely brilliant!!!

  22. Oh my gosh this cake looks amazing! And sounds like it would taste just as good! Congrats on make it to your mid-30s-ish too! :) It's not such a bad place to be...

  23. I hope you had a wonderful birthday! We are still in the temperatures here where it is warm during the day and if I get dressed to go out I'm freezing by the time I get home... I have a love / hate relationship with the fall.

  24. Beautiful! I love the mascarpone, and the rosemary is a beautiful touch. I love it.

  25. You and I are really close in bdays.
    I had such a good one, and thankfully this year the weather was soooo nice.
    Last year, so much rain!
    You always make the most stunning and creative flavor-creative combo's in cakes.
    This, is so well done!

  26. Happy Autumn to you, Valerie. Delicious looking cake and that second's like a painting - so beautiful! :)

    Happy for cooler weather and the idea of a new season. Have a lovely weekend!!

  27. I would love if you shared your poetry, Valerie, if it's even half as lovely as your prose. Beautiful cake!

  28. Did I miss your bday? Happy Birthday, my friend. I feel happiness with fall b/c finally we get some temperature relief here. I love your posts and hope you explore with your poetry here one day (please):) GORGEOUS cake I've been enjoying on instagram, too. xx

  29. Happy belated birthday! This cake seems like the perfect way to celebrate. I so love rosemary desserts, it's a shame it's not a more common flavor.

  30. Happy belated birthday Valerie! I think your cake looks beautiful, that filling and frosting are over the top wonderful!
    Rosemary blooms in the Fall and the sweet little blue flowers are lovely to see in the garden which reminds me of your cake which I also enjoyed seeing in Instagram :)

  31. http://easytocookmeals.comOctober 1, 2013 at 2:58 PM

    What a beautiful picture you got here. Here in KS, we are also enjoying our fall . Thanks for the,post

  32. I just found this recipe through tumblr and it looks amazing. I can't wait to try it! I've never had mascarpone cheese - is it like cream cheese?

  33. @ZeeZee: Yes, mascarpone cheese is a lot like cream cheese - it's just a wee bit lighter. If you can't find mascarpone, feel free to use cream cheese instead. :)

  34. I made this for Thanksgiving. It was a big hit, a couple family members asked for the recipe! It did take a long time to make- probably 3 hours for me and my 11 year old niece all together. I am hoping next time will be quicker:) I am going to attempt to turn this into a cookie recipe to make on Sunday.

  35. Hi!
    I made this cake yesterday - although I only made a two-layer cake-, and it was delicious! All of my family loved it. Said it had a great balance of flavors, and I totally agree with them. I used fresh rosemary from my garden, and it tasted great in the cake! Just the right amour of lime/lemon & rosemary ^^
    Very very good cake!
    Thanks for sharing the recipe ;)

  36. Mel, I'm elated to hear such ravishing reviews on this cake!! :)
    Thank you so much for letting me know; in the back of my mind I always worry how a recipe will turn out for other people. xo


Thanks for visiting, and for taking the time to read through my ramblings!
If you have a recipe comment or question, I'd love to hear from you.

Happy Baking!
♥ Valerie


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